hand felting is easy!!! All you need is some hot water, some mild detergent, and a bumpy surface, if you can find one.... my sink has built in drain boards on the sides, but if you can find a glass washboard that would work too. OR anything that is water proof and bumpy but smooth (as opposed to rough).... like the wire racks for cooling cookies maybe???
Just saturate whatever you're fleting in the hot water, add a teeeeeeeeeny bit of soap, and start scrubbing!!!! You'll have to dunk it often, and I like to "shock" the yarn when i'm hand felting by dunking it in cold water every once in a while.
Hand felting takes a lot longer, obviously, and sometimes the results aren't as even, but you DO have greater control over the felting process.. like if your projct is shrinking too much in one directio--say width-wise-- you can rub it in the other direction--lengthwise-- to catch it up!. It is great for small projects... like you can take all of your wool swatches and hand felt them into coasters.
you can hand felt with just plain roving too, and this can make AWESOME kid projects... I've felted a lot with my niece and nephew. Their favorite project was these soap thingies... we took a bar of ivory, but it in half, and wrapped roving around each half in layers; then the kids washed their hands and rubbed it on the drain boards for about 20 minutes, and I added bits of roving to the outside in layers until they have this "soap in a scak" type thing. We've done 3 or 4 of them, and they LOVE it. Kind of looks tye-dyed. One tip...make sure that your hands are TOTALLY DRY before touching the roving to pull off pieces, or you'll end up ruining the whole thing.
There is a felting tool, like these http://www.marrhaven.com/winghamtool.html#Needles, where you repeatedly push it and pull it out of the work which causes the fabric to felt. No water or mess involved, though I've heard that it is labour intensive!
DIY just had a segment on the Crafters Around the Country (or whatever it's called) and there was a girl on there that made felted hats which she felted by hand. It was pretty interesting. You might try checking their website for directions.
Children don't care how much you know....they want to know how much you care.
Don't mess with dragons....they think you are crunchy and taste good with ketchup!