Using felt board pieces are one way I am able to make stories or rhymes more tangible. Matthew and Elizabeth enjoy putting the felt pieces on our modified garage sale-bought (for $5) easel. It's "modified" because I covered the chalkboard side with 4 sheets of adhesive felt ($1 per 8" x 10" sheet).
Beyond Play sells magnetic felt boards and felt boards with cardboard backing. I didn't want to spend $20 to $30 on a felt board for our purposes. I suppose I could've also made one using a flat panel of wood from the hardware store and covered that with adhesive felt sheets. Hmmm...
We have several felt story sets. So far, we have "5 Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed", which is pre-cut and store-bought (online from Beyond Play). Matthew enjoys pulling the monkeys off the felt board and dropping them on the floor. Then he says, "No, no" while shaking his head when we get to the part "No more monkeys jumping on the bed."
The rest I made using felt board templates from an educational resource website called DLTK's Growing Together. There is an option to print in color or black and white - with the idea that the kids will color the pieces. Then I cut out the pieces, laminated them (I use a Scotch Thermal laminator. It is so easy to use and does the job very well.), and put adhesive felt on the backs so they'd stick to the felt board. I tried using cut up pieces of sandpaper but the glue wouldn't hold the sandpaper and plastic together.
We have Baa, Baa Black Sheep, 5 Little Ducks, and Itsy Bitsy Spider.
I also made a fish tank felt set (with stiffer felt) just for fun. It's been good for counting and colors. I only made 10 fish though.
Our latest homemade felt story set is "Brown Bear, Brown Bear" since that is the book that Matthew's preschool class is reading at school this week. I also made separate pieces with just the words "brown bear", "yellow duck", "blue horse", and so on for all the animals in that book.
Play time with the felt stories isn't consistent though. The kids' staying power largely depends on their moods and how interesting I make it. Sometimes they'll be into the felt stories for 5-10 minutes at a time. Sometimes I am only able to hold their interest for 2 minutes. But that's ok. With most activities I do with them, I go for repetition and fun instead of length of time. Repetition has always been one of the important keys to Matthew's learning. And of course, it has to be fun!
Overall, they've been great to have for my visual learner (Matthew) and my quick study (Elizabeth). They are another simple tool to encourage speech, language, cognition, and reading.