How to Make a Flannel Story

I’ve been mentoring a new children’s librarian who has never made a flannel story! So I thought this post might be helpful to other newbies. I decided to write it to celebrate Flannel Friday’s birthday. For other ideas check out Mel’s Desk, she’s hosting the birthday extravaganza this week.

There are different ways flannel boards can be used:

  1. To tell a story (especially if it’s an out-of-print story, or if the artwork/book is too small)
  2. To accompany songs/fingerplays
  3. To have the children participate in the story
  4. To help children remember a story’s sequence

There are different mediums to use to create a flannel story:

  1. felt
  2. foam (with velcro tab glued to back)
  3. computer generated images (laminated, then velcro tab glued to back)

The one I work with is felt. It’s reasonably priced, you don’t have to add anything to the back to make it stick, it’s tactile, they last forever, and they’re washable if they get put in little ones mouths (which is inevitable!). Other librarians have posted why they love felt or why they love computer generated clip art if you’d like to think about it before you decide. You can use freezer paper to cut intricate felt pieces.

Though I’ve made lots of different felt board stories, my favorite are the kind to keep the children actively participating in the story. I always make enough pieces to pass out to the children before I begin reading the story. This also gives the children a chance at learning to be patient and learning how to take a turn. I also love using these in storytime so that the families come back again and again to see what surprise they’re going to get each week! Here’s how I make a story:

I pick a story that will fit into lots of different themes so I can use it throughout the year in storytimes and outreach. If you’re looking for a list of tools needed, Storytime Katie has you covered. One I made recently was The Stuffed Animals Get Ready for Bed. This story features lots of different animals that I can use in various themes, and bedtime stories are always a hit!Stuffed Animals List

First I make a list of the pieces I will create and note their color.

List of animals

Then I collect the colors I will need. Usually one 8.5 x 11″ sheet is enough for 4 animals. If I need more than this, I go to the fabric store and purchase felt by the yard.

Colors of flannel needed

When I’m ready to start drawing, I find a page in the book to copy each piece.

Sketching panda

First I cut the felt piece in quarters (occasionally if it’s a snake or giraffe I cut it in thirds going the long way). After I draw one, I can usually cut out three pieces at a time if it’s not overally complicated.

Cutting out panda

I lay out the pieces and use fabric paint for the details. If you need guidance on using paint, read Miss Mary Liberry’s post here.

Four pandas

Once all the pieces are painted, I let them dry and move on to the next animal until I have enough pieces for my biggest storytime crowd. I always make more pieces of the animals in the beginning of the story, rather than the end of the story. This particular story has ten animals. If I know certain children are impatient or young (little siblings), I give them an animal in the beginning of the story. By the time I get to the last animal, I usually need two pieces.

When all the pieces are dry, I stack them in order of the story to mix them up. If I’m doing a Toddler time, it also helps to remind me who is holding which animal.

Stacked animals

I add this story to my excel sheet of stories/themes for easy searching and am ready to use it this week! (One of these days I’m going to write an Organizing post!)

Stuffed Animals with blanket

I like to use my lap board, so I’ll ask that all the pandas come up, I’ll cover them up with a flannel blankie (they make fancy felt sheets these days), and then I’ll take down all the pandas to make room for the next animal.

Good luck and have fun with it! Thanks to Flannel Friday for all the great ideas and inspiring me to become a blogger!

3 thoughts on “How to Make a Flannel Story

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