A little over a year ago, I was watching one of my library co-workers lead a storytime for 3- to 5-year-olds, and she used a flannel board for the kids to help illustrate a song; each kid had the chance to add a piece to the board. (“Flannel board” is a misnomer; it is actually felt, not flannel. The felt pieces stick to the felt on the board, no adhesive necessary!)
I remembered her flannel board a few weeks ago when I was thinking of birthday presents for my almost-one-year-old(!). I read a few blog posts (Storytime Katie has a whole collection of flannel boards, and Mel’s Desk had some ideas too). I also remembered an amazing flannel board a former co-worker had made around Emily Gravett’s book Orange Pear Apple Bear, one of my favorite board books.
Making a flannel board seemed doable, and more personal and unique than buying a toy or piece of clothing. I set about collecting supplies: some felt from my local fabric store (Fabric Corner in Arlington), and a bulletin board from the Five and Ten. I cut a piece of gray felt to cover the hard back side of the bulletin board, and stapled the extra to the cork side.
I used construction paper, a pencil, and scissors to make templates for a few simple shapes – ducks, fish, and trains – and got advice from yet another co-worker on how best to make a Very Hungry Caterpillar. (Having children’s librarians as co-workers is the best.) Altogether, minus the time to acquire the materials, it only took about two hours, though I still need to glue the train wheels and windows to the train cars, and glue all the caterpillar segments together.
I’m planning to make a Very Full Caterpillar as well, and a turtle, and some strawberries; I may use puff paint to do faces on the animals (googly eyes are a choking hazard for the little one, who still likes to put things in her mouth). The neat thing about a flannel board is that I can continue to add to it throughout the year and beyond, so (hopefully!) it will remain interesting. Have ideas for flannel board pieces? Send ’em my way! One week to go till the big day…