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Inexpensive Human Chess Set for After-School Club

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DIY Human Chess Set

While teaching an after-school chess club for elementary students, my club needed a creative (a.k.a. "inexpensive") way to make a human chess set for the kids to wear.  It also had to store pretty compactly, since we have little room in our club's Rubbermaid bin for an elaborate multiple costume set.

I came up with this system of headbands and foam chess pieces that can easily attach to each other using hook and loop closures, yet can store flat in plastic gallon bags in our club's bin without taking up too much room.  And it doesn't cost as much as outfitting 32 children with character costumes!
 
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Step 1: Materials List

Picture of Materials List
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You will need the following:

36" X 36" package of black felt
36" X 36" package of white felt
4 sheets of 12" X 18" (2mm or 3mm) black foam 
4 sheets of 12" X 18" (2mm or 3mm) white foam
Scissors, rotary cutter, and/or Xacto craft knife
White thread
Black thread
White Hook and Loop closure (Velcro), 16 inches each side
Black Hook and Loop closure (Velcro), 16 inches each side
White 3/8" elastic, 128 inches total
Ruler
Black Permanent Marker
White Paint Marker
Double Stick Fusible Glue and/or E6000 craft glue
Sewing Machine
Clipart images of the chess pieces (included here)

Step 2: Foam Chess Pieces

Picture of Foam Chess Pieces
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I found reproducible images of chess pieces on the internet and printed them out on regular paper.  I cut out the images and traced them onto the foam sheets with pencil.  Yes, I know I have included two queens of each color into the set.  The extra queen allows for a pawn to turn into a queen if it happens to get across to the other side!  

I then used the black permanent marker to outline the white foam pieces and the white paint marker to outline the black foam pieces according to the clipart images.  
That is a great idea! Definitely makes chess more interesting :)
kellechu (author)  Penolopy Bulnick1 year ago
We always have fun playing human chess games at our school. The first time is definitely a learning curve on what works and what doesn't work with kids aged 6 to 13. But the second time playing with all the kids was a blast!