About a year ago I was posting photos of a felt puppet project I'd started. Old MacDonald and all of his farm animals transformed that felt into sweet hand puppets. I made three sets, one for us and two for gifts. They were such fun to watch come together and we all enjoy playing with them.
The patterns and instructions came from Just Another Day in Paradise. (They are hand drawn patterns, so obviously a lot of work went into them. Thanks so much to Larissa for sharing.) These were not difficult to make, but there were tons of little pieces to keep track of.
I started by cutting the mitts, one pair for each animal. Then I tried to sew by color of felt - all of the orange pieces, all of the grey, all of the pink, etc. Then I did as many eyes as I could at once, and the hooves were on several, so I tried to do all of those at the same time. It didn't always work out, so there was a lot of changing of thread colors, but it did go quickly when I was able to spend some time working at the table. When we began work on the new flooring, the puppet project was put away and ended up staying put away until the summer was over and we were into Fall. I had to finish them, though, since they were birthday gifts for nephew. My Alex and Kale had been waiting since May for their birthday gift, and Connor's second birthday was quickly approaching in October. I probably sewed on them for between 10 and 12 hours altogether, but I was making three sets, so if you just want to make one set, cut that time by 2/3. A full set of puppets in one afternoon is awesome. A full set of puppets in one day is awesome. A full set of puppets after four months? Well... nope, they're still awesome. A couple of hours on a Saturday morning was all it took to put the final stripes on the kitties and the curly-q tails on the pigs. Somehow I ended up with extra stray pieces like eyes and hooves. I did finally just say no to hooves. They didn't fit anyway, and what little one was going to care about it. None. So I cut myself some slack and called them good. And they are so good! They're so CUTE.
I did, of course, change a few things as I put them together. I gave the old farmer guy overalls instead of jeans and shirt - my nod to Grandpa Adams, I guess. None of my three farmers have a hat yet, and that needs to be rectified. I think some of one of the kitties' stripes are different, I left off the blue on the bottom of the ducks, and of course, those evil hooves.
The felt came from the marts of Wal for the most part, but some was from www.fabric.com. I've always had great service and fast shipping from them, and can get a variety of colors not offered at the local box store. If you have to go out and purchase all of the felt for these, it would be a little bit of investment, but you get nine puppets. I had most of what I needed already.
As for play value, well, besides being fun to look at, there is the song. Songs build vocabulary. Did you know that often times children will sing words that they don't say yet? Plus, you've got the bonus of the song teaching children all of the animal sounds. I don't know why knowing animal sounds is important, but don't we all test young children on this all the time? "What sound does a cow make?" "moo." Yeah! and we clap wildly. Okay.
There is also the dramatic play value. Kids can create scenarios between animals and/or the Old Mac guy. They have the power to control the puppets, to lead and construct the story. Plus, these guys are just fun to look at.
If you decide to sew up a set, I'd love to see them.