It seems that as my girls get bigger, their toys get smaller and have more parts to them. And they like to play in different rooms in the house, as well as on the floor, on the couch…so I find their little toy parts everywhere. Nothing’s creepier than a Lego head staring back at you when you lift a couch cushion. I had found two wooden trays on two different trips to two different thrift stores. I was going to redo one for my mom and one for myself, when it dawned on me that I could stick a Lego board on it and also provide some “wells” to catch their Lego pieces. I also realized that they could also use the board for beads as well as their felt pieces (like their Screen Printed Felt Paper Dolls) by laying a piece of beading mat on top of the tray (it’s like a really soft felt for keeping beads from rolling around on your work surface).
The tray would keep everything in one place as they move around the house, and encourage them to put one project away before they take out a new one. Maybe Mama needs one for her crafts, too. Here’s how I made our Kids’ Activity Trays For Beading, Legos, and as a Felt Board
- Wooden tray. Again, mine were thrifted.
- Lego building plate that fits your tray. Mine is the LEGO Green Building Plate (10″ x 10″)
- White Primer
- Craft Paint
- Wooden dowels to fit your tray (you may need to trim them)
- for the well (mine were stamped…see my DIY Foam Rubber Stamps for Kids tutorial)
- for the dowels (use long strips to wrap around the dowels)
- Ruler/Straight edge, rotary cutter and self-healing mat (to cut fabric)
- Mod Podge (I used Matte)
- Foam brushes
- Push Pins
- Not shown: Sand paper, band saw (if needed to trim the dowels), sticky Velcro dots, beading cloth such as this one: Beadalon Beading Mats – Prevent Bead Rolling 12 X 9 Inch (Set of 3) or you could use a piece of felt.
Directions Sand, prime and paint your wood tray. My girls selected purple and pink. I stuck push pins on all four corners underneath to serve as little legs to give me a place to hold the tray while painting it, and so it would dry without sticking to my newspaper (idea from Chica and Joe). While the tray is drying, trim your wooden dowels if needed, and cut out your fabric to fit the dowels as well as the fabric for the bottom of the well (in my case, that would be the stamped fabric). For the dowel fabric, you can cut it just slightly longer but cut the width the exact circumference of the dowel. Also, stick a push pin on either end of the dowel to give you a place to hold the dowel while you are applying the Mod Podge. Sand the dowel and coat with a layer of Mod Podge, and another coat on the wrong side of the fabric strip. Here’s an easy way to apply the fabric to the dowel smoothly…lay the fabric strip down horizontally on your workspace, and hold the dowel by the pushpins with both hands, like rolling pin. Then roll the fabric right on to the dowel, smoothing the fabric as you go. The seams should meet together if you cut it exactly. Apply a coat of Mod Podge on top to seal. Allow to dry. Repeat with all dowels. One of my girls insisted on using this purple floral, but it wasn’t long enough. So to hide the seam, I wrapped a strip of fabric around it and Mod Podge’d it down. When the paint is dry on the tray, add the fabric strip that is the bottom of the well. Apply Mod Podge to the tray the width of the fabric, then apply Mod Podge to the wrong side of the fabric. Smooth down the fabric and apply a coat of Mod Podge on top to seal. Repeat for the other well on the opposite side. Allow to dry. Use the glue gun to glue the Lego plate to the center of the tray. Then apply a bead of hot glue down the seam of the dowels and press down onto the tray, along the edges of the stamped fabric. You may need a rather thick bead of glue for it to stick. Test for wobbliness when it dries…if it wobbles, you can peel it off the tray carefully, peel off the dried hot glue, and reapply a thicker bead of hot glue and press down harder. Finally, add Velcro to the tray and the beading mat which can be removed when the girls want to play their Legos, but the Velcro will keep the mat in place when they’re beading or using it as a felt board. All done! Here are our trays in action… -As a Felt Board -For Beading -For Legos, whether working on our own separate projects… …or collaborating with each other.