My daughter is getting to the age where we want to start introducing the alphabet to her and it’s so exciting! I figured an alphabet-themed play mat would be perfect, something to use to practice the letters in a fun way. As a former kindergarten teacher I love the book Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, where all the letters climb up the coconut tree. And so the idea for this felt alphabet tree play mat was born. I love how adorable it turned out – perfect for fun alphabet play!
I plan to hang mine on the wall like a felt Christmas tree, using poster tape (or command strips). We’ll use it like a big felt board (sometimes called a flannel board). Felt sticks to felt, so the letters will stick to the felt alphabet tree play mat. But this play mat could also be used on the floor if you don’t want to hang it up on the wall, and put away when not in use.
Felt Alphabet Tree Play Mat
- green felt for the leaves (I used a piece about 44 inches by 72 inches)
- brown felt for the tree trunk (I only needed 5 inches by 32 inches)
- light blue felt for the play mat background (I used a 36 inch square)
- smaller pieces of colorful felt for the alphabet letters
- white felt to glue on the back of the letters (optional, but I used about half a yard)
- alphabet letter pattern (link in this post)
- lo-temp hot glue gun & glue sticks
Cut out the letters
First I printed out the pattern I made for the alphabet letters. It is in a very simple font, but I did fix a few of the letters to make them look right for kids learning the alphabet (I added the line to the top of the J & I for example, and fixed the lowercase a). I wouldn’t want to cut all these letters out without a pattern!
I rotated between a few felt colors as I cut out the letters, carefully trimming them to match the pattern.
After cutting out the letters I decided they were too floppy to use on the felt board. So I ended up using my glue gun to glue each letter on a big piece of white felt, leaving just enough space to cut around each letter. Then I cut them out again so that each letter was two layers of felt (making them a little stronger). Each letter has a white felt backing on it.
We have a free printable resource library for our awesome newsletter subscribers, where you can grab a copy of the free printable letter pattern. Just fill out the form below. I’ll send the access info right to your inbox, easy peasy!
One note of caution: Make sure you pay attention to the direction of each letter as you glue them on the white felt backing. I’m not sure what I was thinking with the backwards S (you can see it in the picture below), but I had to make a new letter S to make sure it faced the right direction. I did this with F, too. Oops!
If you think the letters are fine with just one layer of felt you could always skip the step of adding the white felt backing. The letters might be a little floppy, but skipping this step would certainly save you some work.
Make the Tree
To make the felt alphabet tree play mat, I trimmed a large piece of light blue felt into a 36 inch square (making it similar in size to my felt Christmas tree). Of course, you could make your felt play mat any size you’d like.
Then I used a large piece of green felt and traced the shape of leaves for my coconut tree using a yellow crayon (you could also draw them with a piece of chalk). Each leaf was approximately 11 inches wide by 18 inches long. I cut out 4 leaves for my tree from the green felt.
Next I used the brown felt to cut out the tree trunk and coconuts. I made the trunk 5 inches wide by 25 inches tall. To make the coconut circles, I traced a round glass onto the leftover brown felt with my yellow crayon and cut out two coconuts that were 3.5 inches in diameter. In the picture below you can see the pieces I laid out before putting together the coconut tree.
To assemble the felt alphabet tree, I used my glue gun to glue the pieces where I wanted them. The finished play mat is shown below.
I am super excited to use this finished felt alphabet tree play mat with my sweet girl, and have a few ideas for fun ways to play with it. It’s the kindergarten teacher in me, you know? 🙂
1. Call out letters to “climb” the tree
Put only a few letters on the play mat and call out each letter, pretending to make it climb up the tree. You could just use uppercase letters for this, or just lowercase, depending on what you’re working on.
2. Act out the story
You can set out all the lowercase letters and have your child put each letter on the felt play mat as you read the book Chicka Chicka Boom Boom. To make this easier, you can have all the letters in order on the floor or a table nearby. To make it a little more difficult, mix the letters up so they have to find the right one.
3. Call out a letter for your child to find
You can have a set of letters on the tree (it doesn’t have to be all the letters- just the ones you’re working on). You say the name of a letter and your child has to find it. They can either hand it to you or pretend to make the letter fall out of the tree. Later on when you move to working on letter sounds, you can call out a sound and your child finds the letter.
4. Matching uppercase and lowercase letters
You can work on matching the uppercase and lowercase letters. Find each letter pair to put on the tree together- Aa, Bb, Cc… (In the book Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, all the big letters come to help their little letters when they fall out of the tree.) You don’t need to use all the letters (that would be a lot). You could just do a few at first, like maybe Aa-Ee, and add more as your child learns more letters.
5. Alphabetical Order
You can set out all the uppercase letters or all the lowercase letters and reenact the story, by adding them in alphabetical order to the play mat.
Of course, all these alphabet games are dependent on your child’s knowledge of the alphabet. Since my daughter is new to the alphabet, we will start with a only the first few uppercase letters and introduce more as time goes on. Then once she knows the uppercase, we’ll do the same with the lowercase, introducing a few at a time. Eventually, we’ll work on matching the uppercase and lowercase and talk about the letter sounds (when she’s older, I might call out the sound and have her put that letter on the tree).
I hope you love this felt alphabet tree play mat as much as I do! I am so excited to use this with my daughter and made one to send to my nieces, too. My girl loves her felt Christmas tree, so I know she’ll enjoy this felt alphabet tree. And of course having an educational tool like this to play with together is awesome!
I love this felt alphabet tree play mat – so fun!