Engaging programs to keep kids coming back to the library
To celebrate Flannel Friday’s 4th anniversary, I am helping guest host for the Guest Post Palooza. So help me welcome Jessi…
Hello! Super excited to be a guest here on Thrive After Three! I am Jessi Peterson and I am a children’s librarian in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin. We are deep in the heart of America’s Dairyland, so I am going to share about one of my favorite materials for flannel stories –milk filters!
On a dairy farm, milk filters screen the milk from individual cows before it goes into the bulk tank. They are made out of a white papery kind of cotton fiber meshed together like plywood. They have a mildly wiry texture, so they hold onto the flannel board easily. You can see through them, so tracing from clipart is easy. They will take color from colored pencils, markers, crayons, oil pastels, and some types of paint. You can also print clip art on them with the printer – just cut the milk filter to your paper size, print, then add color by hand as desired. If you have access to a die cut machine, they can be run through that easy peasy too. They come in two sizes, 6 inch and 15 inch circles, and can be found at your local farm supply store. A box of 100 15 inch filters costs about $15, which should last a looooong time – most of the time I can make several flannel stories out of one filter. I love the versatility of milk filters – they’ve got a little more heft than plain paper, they are easier to cut intricate pieces from than real felt, and you can be as simple or as wild artistically as you want. If you have a magnet board rather than a flannel board, slap a piece of magnetic tape on the back and off you go. Occasionally I augment the stickiness of the milk filter with a tiny piece or two of Velcro hook if a really big piece doesn’t want to stick, but most of the time the natural nubbiness of the filter is enough the stick nicely.
One of my favorites that I have done with milk filters is this version of the song “The Green Grass Grew All Around” inspired by an art print I found on one of my favorite Etsy stores, Bee Things. We start off with the pond, complete with cattails and lily pads, and sing
Just down the road (clap clap clap clap)
There was a bog (clap clap clap clap)
The wettest bog (clap clap clap clap)
That you ever did see (clap clap clap clap)
AAAND the cattails grew all around, all around, the cattails grew all around.
Then we progressively add the brownest log, the pinkest/fattest hog, longest/shortest dog, and the greenest frog to the mix. It’s a great song for rhyming, colors, opposites, and a few words that are off the beaten path, like bog and hog. The vibrant matte colors of this flannel come from oil pastels which get in all the nooks and crannies of the milk filter.
Another favorite is based on There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Trout by Teri Sloat, illustrated by Reynold Ruffins. I love the wild, folk art style illustrations and the fact that the old lady doesn’t die at the end, but our copy was on its last legs, so I thought I’d better flannelize it before it was too late! I made a giant size old lady out of construction paper and laminated her, then attached a full milk filter with brads to form her stomach. She swallows in turn a trout, a salmon, an otter, a seal, a porpoise, a walrus, a whale and then the entire ocean before getting the hiccups and belching them all back out again. The animals I drew with water soluble colored pencils, so I was able to paint over the colors and make them look a little watery.
I hope this inspires you to give milk filters a shot. To see other flannels I have done as well as things that are in my to-be-flannelized inspiration box, check out my Flannel and Felt Ideas board on Pinterest here. If you make something awesome with milk filters, please share it on Flannel Friday. Thanks again to Lisa for hosting me – now let’s go forth and flannelize!