Flannel Friday: Please, Mr. Panda

I know Flannel Friday doesn’t do weekly round-ups anymore, but I still love the flannel community. When I saw Brooke post a picture of Mr. Panda on Instagram I begged her to write it up as a guest post here. Luckily, she agreed!

Brooke Cusmano is a recent graduate of the iSchool at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. She loves her new gig as a Youth Services Librarian at Rolling Meadows Library, which is located in a northwest suburb of Chicago. You can follow her on Instagram @brookethelibrarian.  Take it away, Brooke!

Please, Mr. Panda by Steve Antony is one of my favorite books to read for either a preschool or toddler storytime. It’s a versatile book that can be used for a variety of themes such as manners, kindness, bears or the letter P. It makes a nice flannel, too, with the colorful donuts contrasting against the gray background and simple black and white animals. And because of the repetition, Please Mr. Panda is also an easy book to do from memory or from a few notes.

6 Tips for Creating Awesome Flannel Stories6

1. Bigger is Better

As long as you have the storage and a big enough flannel board, make the pieces big enough that everyone in the back can see them.

2. Photocopy the animal from a book (or use an image /clipart from online) and then trace the outlines onto a piece of felt.

This is a technique that Miss Darlene from the Rolling Meadows Library taught me. It is a fool-proof / non-artsy-person way to create a flannel.

For Please Mr. Panda, I first photocopied all of the animals from the book, increasing the size of the penguin and the skunk, yet still keeping within proportion to the rest of the animals.

Once photocopied and cut, I traced the panda flipped over so that the lined side became the backside of the flannel piece.

Back Side
Front Side

3. It’s Not You, It’s the Scissors

If you find yourself struggling to cut through felt. STOP, and get a new pair of scissors.

This freshly cut white felt outline is the piece in which all other colored felt pieces will be glued onto, which brings me to my 4th tip…

4. Layers

Layering felt pieces brings a thickness and brightness in color to the flannel. It’s also a lot easier than trying to color felt with a marker.

Once you’ve completed the white felt piece, layer all of the other black and colored pieces on top of it. I cut out the next pieces from the original photocopy. In the picture below I am cutting out the arm and the legs.

Flip these pieces over as well and trace the outline onto black felt. I used a SILVER SHARPIE for dark felt.

Once these pieces are cut, we glue them in place onto the white outline.

5. Use Elmer’s Glue, lots and lots of Elmer’s Glue

Especially around the edges. The felt absorbs the glue, so you basically need a puddle to get the layers to stick together. When the glue dries the felt hardens and becomes nice and stiff.

We continue on this way…cutting from the photocopied panda, tracing onto the felt, and then gluing onto the white template until the panda is complete. I actually decided to make the Panda two-sided so I could turn him over every time he says, “No, you cannot have a donut. I have changed my mind.” Unfortunately these two pieces did not fit seamlessly, so I built the gray piece to fit in between them. This ended up being a much thicker piece than I usually like, but it didn’t fall off the flannel board – so a win!

6. Google Eyes!

I love the use google eyes whenever possible on flannels because…umm…google eyes. In this flannel I used them on the whale, penguin and skunk.

I hope these tips help you to create the flannels of your dreams. 😛 These techniques can be used with any illustration or clip art you find, whether in a book or online. Happy Flannel Making!

Flannel Friday: A Peanut Sat on a Railroad Track

Dana and I may live on opposite sides of Canada right now, but that doesn’t mean we don’t swap storytime ideas through text messages! Dana sent me an “I love storytime” moment the other day when she shared a picture of a felt story she made of the traditional children’s song, “A Peanut Sat on a Railroad Track.”

Sad to say we don’t have a video of this song on Jbrary. You can find it on YouTube easily though, like this one described as a “gross kids song.” Why stop at one verse though? My co-worker Adam Smith wrote additional verses that Dana based her felt pieces on. He’s given me permission to share them here. If you’ve got a silly preschool group or a K – 2 class visiting, you’ve got to try this out. Trust us.

Dana made her felt pieces by printing clipart images and pasting them to felt, then cutting around the edges. So easy! I love how she put a number 10 on the train to match the first verse. Here are the other verses:

A potato sat on a railroad track
To see which way the train goes
Around the bend came the Number 10
Toot Toot
Mashed Potatoes!

An apple sat on a railroad track
Feeling a little lost
Around the bend came the Number 10
Toot Toot
Apple Sauce!

A chickpea  sat on a railroad track
Wondering what that sound was
Around the bend came the Number 10
Toot Toot

An avocado sat on a railroad track
But it got up too slowly
Around the bend came the Number 10
Toot Toot

An olive sat on a railroad track
Feeling a little sad
Around the bend came the Number 10
Toot Toot

A sesame sat on a railroad track
Roasting a little weenie
Around the bend came the Number 10
Toot Toot

A tomato sat on a railroad track
having a little poop
Around the bend came the Number 10
Toot Toot
Tomato soup!

An eggplant sat on a railroad track
listening to the wind go wooooosh
Around the bend came the Number 10
Toot Toot
Baba ghanoush!

And here are some bonus holiday verses:

A pumpkin sat on the railroad track
Having a little cry
Around the bend came number 10
Toot toot
Pumpkin pie!

A loaf of bread sat on the railroad track
Huffing and puffing
Around the bend came number 10
Toot toot

A soybean sat on the railroad track
Enjoying a cup of tea
Around the bend came number 10
Toot Toot

Can you think of any other verses? Hit me up in the comments with your rhyming geniusness.

Flannel Friday: Two Little Blackbirds

Guess who is participating in Flannel Friday this week!?

I’ve had this flannel set for so long and recently started using it again. It’s been a total hit! I forgot how much the kids love to do this classic fingerplay with the extra verses.  Because my felt board is black I made the birds blue so they would stick out more. We sing, “Two little bluebirds…”  Aren’t familiar with this rhyme or extra verses? Check out our video first!

Here are the felt pieces I made and the verses I do with them.  First I put up all the different objects. Then I bring out the two birds. They always start on the hill. We sing:

Two little bluebirds sitting on a hill
One named Jack and one named Jill
Fly away Jack, fly away Jill
Come back Jack, come back Jill

Then I ask where they should fly next. I let the kids direct the rhyme in that way. Here are the places we go.

Two little bluebirds sitting on a car
One named near and one named far
Fly away near, fly away far
Come back near, come back far
(Put one finger near your body and one finger outstretched)

Two little bluebirds sitting on a stick
One named slow and one named quick
Fly away slow, fly away quick
Come back slow, come back quick
(Really draw out the slow. The kids love this verse.)

Two little bluebirds sitting on a cup
One named down and one named up
Fly away down, fly away up
Come back down, come back up

Two little bluebirds sitting on a cloud
One named quiet and one named loud
Fly away quiet, fly away loud
Come back quiet, come back loud

Two little bluebirds sitting on a lily
One named serious and one named silly
Fly away serious, fly away silly
Come back serious, come back silly
(Make your best serious face for this verse – the kids crack up!)

I’ve been using this one right after we read Hooray for Birds! by Lucy Cousins which is one of my 2017 Favourite Storytime Picture Books.

Make sure to catch the entire Flannel Friday round-up here on Jbrary at the end of the week!

Flannel Friday: Come Under My Umbrella and Rain is Falling Down

It’s time for Flannel Friday’s Winter Extravaganza!  Amy at Catch the Possibilities is hosting this week’s wintery round-up so be sure to check out her blog for more winter ideas.

I’m sharing some super simple felt pieces I whipped up to go along with two songs I love to sing in the fall and winter.  I live in Vancouver, otherwise known as Raincouver, so these are very relevant to my storytime kiddos!

Come Under My Umbrella

Come under my umbrella, umbrella, umbrella
Come under my umbrella, it’s starting to rain
With thunder and lightning and thunder and lightning
Come under my umbrella, it’s starting to rain.

Before I sing this one, I ask the kids what the weather is like today.  Then I pull out the rain felt and we practice making the sign for rain.  Then I ask what we use to stay dry and pull out the umbrella piece and we practice making the sign for umbrella. Then we talk about how sometimes there is thunder and lightning and I put up the lightning pieces as we practice the sign. Then we sing the song together.  This really helps me slow down my pace, especially for toddlers.


Rain is Falling Down

Rain is falling down. Splash!
Rain is falling down. Splash!
Pitter patter, pitter patter,
Rain is falling down. Splash!
Sun is peeking out. Peek!
Sun is peeking out. Peek!
Peeking here, peeking there,
Sun is peeking out. Peek!
Snow is falling down, shhh!
Snow is falling down, shhh!
Falling here, falling there,
Snow is falling down, shhh!

I love using this one at the end of any storytime – babies, toddlers, preschoolers. It gives a nice calming vibe and can be done with scarves too. The sun is from my Zoom, Zoom, Zoom set and the rain is from the set above.  The snow verse is not in the video as I’ve only recently added it. All I had to make were some snowflakes to complete the song!

What are your favourite winter songs and rhymes? Let me know in the comments!

Flannel Friday: Toot Toot Beep Beep + Extensions

I love felt stories that can be used in multiple ways. My Flannel Friday submission this week is courtesy of my SUPER AWESOME co-worker Kate Lowe who made this felt story and created the extension activities.  It is based on the picture book Toot Toot Beep Beep by Emma Garcia.  Thank you, Kate, for letting me borrow this felt story and for allowing me to share your genius on my blog!

Here are the cars she created to retell Garcia’s picture book version. Kate said she added in a few extra cars to be able to do the extension activities. If you have a small group of storytimers, this is an excellent story to use to practice turn taking. Give each child one of the cars and have them place it on the felt board as you tell the story.  They could even be in charge of saying the sound associated with the vehicle. She also made a stop sign which can be used to practice letter recognition. Maybe follow it up with a fun stop sign rhyme!

For the extension activities, Kate made a set of numbers 1- 9. Then she plays a “Little Mouse” type game where she asks the kids which car they think came in first place in the race. She uses this rhyme: Race cars, race cars, the race is done! Race cars, race cars, which car won?  Then they lift each car up to reveal a number. The car with the number one is the winner!


Want to practice colours? Kate came up with these two rhymes to help the kids identify the colour of each vehicle.

Little Car

Little car, little car
Can you say what colour you are?

Car Star

I’m a car star.
I will go far.
I can tell you
what colour you are!

There you have it! Three different ways to use these set of cars: to tell a story, to learn numbers, and to recognize colours. Thank you again to Kate for sharing her knowledge of early literacy and superb felt story making skills.  And thank you to Jessica at Storytime in the Stacks for hosting this week’s Flannel Friday round-up!

Flannel Friday: 5 Little Snow People

Does it snow where you live? This is the first year I’ve lived in Vancouver where it has legitimately snowed multiple times, leaving the ground covered in centimeters of the white stuff.  I took a walk around my neighbhourhood a few weeks ago and was greeted by many snow people, this one being my favourite.

Since I knew many of my storytime kids were experiencing their first snowy winters here, I decided to read Snowballs by Lois Ehlert in storytime. I love this book – it’s just right for a mix of toddlers and preschoolers.  I’m always delighted by Ehlert’s found object art and playful language.  My Flannel Friday submission this week is what I made to accompany Ehlert’s book.

First I found this snowmen rhyme on Sunflower Storytime.  When I presented it in storytime I asked the kids who these snow people might be. Most of them said, “snow dads!” but you could also have snow moms, snow boys, snow girls, snow babies, or a snow granny or grandpa. Whatever the kids say, that’s what we sing. Here’s how I adapted the rhyme:

Five little snow _____ all in a row
Each with a hat
And made of snow.
Out came the sun
And it stayed all day
And one of those snow _____ melted away.
(Count down to zero)

As with all my felt stories and songs, these snow people aren’t perfect and they’re definitely not complex.  But they were super easy to free hand – just cut out the shapes you want and hot glue them together.  We talked about the different coloured hats after we sang the rhyme. I imagine you could add lots of little details to the snow people to boost the talking potential.

Thank you Kathryn at Fun with Friends at Storytime for hosting Flannel Friday this week. Make sure to check out her blog for lots of other felt story inspiration!

Flannel Friday: 5 Little Pumpkins

Last week I wrote about my favourite Halloween songs and rhymes.   I recently stumbled upon the Pete the Cat book version of “5 Little Pumpkins” and decided it would be an easy enough felt story to make for a novice like myself .   It’d also be great to help my toddlers visualize the rhyme as we count on our fingers.  Lots of people have done a felt story version before – check out the Halloween board by Flannel Friday for more ideas.  Here’s what I did!

Step 1: Find clipart pictures of pumpkins and adjust them to different sizes. Print and cut out.


Step 2: Trace pumpkins onto felt. I used a pen. Cut out the pumpkins. I ran out of orange felt and had to add some yellow pumpkins.


Step 3: Cut out all sorts of different shapes for the eyes, noses, and mouths. These pieces are tiny and can be tricky, but the kids will not care one bit if they are wonky. I promise.  I used scraps of black felt for this part.

Step 4: Cut out strips of brown felt and make one end pointed. They can be different lengths and widths. Cut out two longer strips that will hold the gate together.  Make the gate as long or as short as you’d like.

Step 5: Assemble pumpkins and gate usually hot glue. Burn your fingers multiple times – don’t fight it; it’s inevitable. Don’t panic when your gate looks like it’s been through a windstorm. This gives it character (right?).

Step 6: Use in storytime!


Thank you to Kathryn at Fun with Friends at Storytime for hosting this week’s Flannel Friday round-up.  I love the Flannel Friday community.

Flannel Friday: Brown Squirrel, Brown Squirrel

When I first moved to Vancouver I was a little surprised that most people don’t have screens on their doors or windows.  I didn’t think too much of it until one day I was relaxing on the couch when a squirrel ran into my living room!  It jumped from a tree, onto my balcony, and straight into my apartment.  We stared at each other for about five seconds before it bolted back out the door.  It’s safe to say that since that day I’ve put up a hanging screen on my balcony door.

Despite the little rascal that ended up in my home, squirrels are curious and cute critters that most kids recognize.  Dana taught me this super fun chant to sing when your storytime kids need to get up and move around.  I love doing it with scarves – you can ask kids what colour scarf they are holding and then change the squirrel to that colour.  Dana also discovered the delight that comes from putting the scarf in your back pocket and shaking it like a tail.

Here’s some felt pieces my co-worker Karen helped me make to go along with the song.  I like to move the nut around to the different squirrels when we sing their colour.  Because squirrels are so common, I use this song as a way to encourage caregivers to talk to their kids about their surroundings.  I might say something like, “When you go outside today, ask them what they see in the trees, in the sky, on the sidewalk.  Asking questions about your neighbourhood is a great way for your child to practice talking  and to learn new words.”

brown squirrel

Thank you Kate at Felt Board Magic for hosting this week’s Flannel Friday round-up.  Learn more about the Flannel Friday community and how to participate.