Taking The Story On The Road

January 26, 2010

I don’t really know what to say for all of your prayers and thoughts for my sister-in-law. I sat in front of this computer last night feeling really overwhelmed at your kindness, and I truly believe that they will lift her spirits . I plan to respond to each of you personally, just to let you know how much your words meant.

In my last year of college, I took a class called The Art of Storytelling. Truth be told, I needed to fulfill an elective, and storytelling sounded dreamy and magical. What I got was a little less glamorous, but a whole lot more interesting. The class was all about the structure of a story, and the ways that we can engage the listener through body language and expression.

Twelve years later, and that one semester has paid off. Storytelling has become a pretty serious pastime in my house lately, and the boys are loving telling elaborate stories about space astronauts, comets and world cup soccer players. we have worked with storytelling in a few different ways recently, from giving each child a few objects, and asking them to create a story with them, to working with felt story boards.

When I first read Bernadette’s article in Rhythm of The Home, I realized that story boards were a great way to give children a space to create both a verbal story, as well as a physical picture of that story. Our story board has become a great spot for the boys to act out what ever is on their mind, or lose themselves in their imagination.

Since the storyboard has been such great fun, and since I am ALWAYS in need of something that will occupy the little ones in the car, or at the doctor’s office, etc, I thought that it would be neat to try and create a portable storyboard to take with us wherever we go.


Jacob and I talked a bit about what he thought that he would need from a board like this, and we came up with the size, and the fabrics that we wanted to use. I wanted to include my boys in sewing this project, so we kept it simple and fun


Cut your inside fabric (this is your board, and can be either flannel or felt) to 16.5 x 16.5. Cut your main fabric, and a medium to heavy weight fusible webbing (keep in mind that this needs to be rolled, and can not be too stiff) to the same dimensions.
Following manufacturers instructions, adhere your webbing to your main fabric.

Decide on what kind of ties you are going to use, and get them prepared. Once they are ready, you will place them in between your two fabrics (which are right sides together), and pin them into place.


Create a pocket to keep your felt characters in by using an 11.5 x 11.5 piece of fabric, folding in all of the sides by 1/4″, and then again by another 1/2″. Sew around all of your edges, then fold into an envelope and stitch up the sides to hold the envelope in place.


On the opposite side from your ties, open up your two fabrics (again, they are facing each other), and line up the bottom of your pocket with the edge of your fabrics. The front of the pocket should be facing the flannel or felt fabrics.


Beginning 1/2 way down one of the two sides that does not have any extras like pockets or ties, begin to sew using a 1/2 seam allowance. This is a really great project for children to practice or learn sewing, and it is easy to fix if anything goes a little awry.
Continue around all four sides of the board, stopping 3 inches before your starting point. Trim your corners, being careful not to cut your stitches, turn right side out, push your corners out, and press.

Using a zigzag stitch, stitch all the way around the entire board, being sure to catch your fabric from the original 3″ opening.


Using stencils, or drawing free hand, cut out your characters in wool felt, put them into the pocket, and roll the bag up for your little ones to enjoy many hours of storytelling fun.

For my boys, we do a lot of character play with people, trucks, back grounds, etc. What is shown above is a simple few characters that are perfect for little ones to learn to tell stories.

{ 25 comments… read them below or add one }

Suzanne January 26, 2010 at 12:44 pm

What a wonderful idea! Portable. We have bought mnay flannel sets but they always have the clunky boards. Perfect for the car:-) Thanks!

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adirondackmama January 26, 2010 at 1:06 pm

Oooh, I love this. What a great tutorial. I have so much felt kicking around, I'll have to give this a go.

I bet the boys are in heaven.

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Andrea January 26, 2010 at 1:17 pm

What a fantastic idea! My kids would love this. I love portable projects for the car. Thanks so much for sharing.

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solstice letters January 26, 2010 at 1:47 pm

This is such a wonderful idea, Heather. I'll certainly have to add it to my list of "to-do's". So perfect for travel. My heart is heavy for your precious sister-in-law. There are no words…but there are miracles.

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Sarah Jane January 26, 2010 at 2:05 pm

These are fantastic. I used story boards when I was a school social worker- so helpful to understand what's going on in a kiddo's mind.
Also, prayer for your SIL and family. Scary.

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denise January 26, 2010 at 2:08 pm

i always loved felt boards as a child. these are great. praying for your sister-in-law.

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AG Ambroult January 26, 2010 at 2:27 pm

The storyboards would be a great gift. I am scheming already…
thanks for the tutorial :)

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Kelly January 26, 2010 at 3:11 pm

I love this idea!!

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Meg Evans January 26, 2010 at 3:24 pm

What a fantastic idea–this morning my son had to come to my gyn appointment with me. A story board would have been great (but he did okay).

And I will keep your sister-in-law in my prayers.

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Valarie January 26, 2010 at 3:28 pm

This is so cute. Am I too old for this? Maybe but I'm going to sew one up for my friend Jennifer who has two young children. They are planning a car trip to come and see us and this will help along the way. Thanks Heather. It's so fun.

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Ivy January 26, 2010 at 3:29 pm

I love this idea. You lost me a little bit with the envelope and the ties, but I am determined to figure it out. It looks like such fun.

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Linda January 26, 2010 at 4:18 pm

I just love this idea! Love it…

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larissa January 26, 2010 at 5:25 pm

Love the fact that it's portable – I so could have used this at the greek restaurant last weekend. greg works most weekends and about once a month the kiddos and i like to try a new restaurant in the big city and hour from our house – but one little girl has a really hard time waiting for the food to arrive and we need an alternative to our usual crayons and madlibs. Thanks for this great idea!

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Its_Lily January 26, 2010 at 6:07 pm

I really like this idea. The possibilities for story telling are endless and barely limited by the character pieces you choose. ooooh….really good idea.

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nicola January 26, 2010 at 6:27 pm

oh i LOVE this idea. THANK YOU. it is one both my kids (3 years apart) would love. a good easter basket item!
nicola
http://whichname.blogspot.com

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Jennifer January 26, 2010 at 6:51 pm

What an awesome idea! Our oldest really enjoys magnetic scenes when we are on long car trips or plane rides, but I love that he and I could make something like this together! I think he would like it even more and the play would last even longer that way. Plus, we can always make new wool shapes to use with it to reflect the seasons, the journey we are on, his interests, or even the actual place we are going! Hmmmm… We're leaving Thursday for Texas; can I get one finished in time?…

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MaryYDP January 26, 2010 at 8:00 pm

Such a great idea, we need to do this!

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kerry January 26, 2010 at 8:31 pm

I love this. If I can get my act together, I may try to make one for a birthday this weekend. One of our little neighbors is turning 5. Continued prayers for you all.

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Stephanie January 26, 2010 at 11:09 pm

Great tutorial, and what a sweet photo of your son sewing. My little guy requested to be in my lap today while I did a little sewing, it made it difficult, but I wouldn't have it any other way!

Sorry to hear about your sister in law, I'm praying for her.

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Jennifer January 27, 2010 at 12:35 am

We have a portable felt board but the back is cardboard. I love this idea because it can be folded up easily. Great tutorial. I will be saying prayers for your sister in law and your family. Take Care

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Roxy Schow January 27, 2010 at 3:13 am

What a fun way to make the storyboard portable! We made little ones and put ribbon handles on them, like little satchels, but I love the idea of a roll-up board. Prayers are going up here, for you and your family. I feel like I know you from reading your blog, and I wish everyone in your family – especially your sister-in-law – healing and a sense of peace.

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quirkygranolagirl January 27, 2010 at 4:04 am

great idea!

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Imene January 27, 2010 at 3:02 am

I love this project. We have made a couple of felt boards but they're in a cardboard box. Thank you Heather!
And big hugs and a ton of positive energy for your sister in law

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samthehamsmom January 27, 2010 at 1:59 pm

Great idea Heather~I have a ZUNE in the car, does that count as a portable story board????LOL.

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Coniqua February 22, 2010 at 4:01 am

I'm so glad i came across this, just today we opened presents my son recieved and he got a set of felt dinosaurs for storyboards. I may whip him up a board to take along with us. I've also seen a project where the kids decorated the outside of a pizza box and lined it w. felt for a portable board.

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