Displays

Flannel Up Your Space

Flannel Wall with multi-colored leaves

How is your Children’s Room looking lately? Is it appealing to the eye, inviting guests to explore? Does it feel innovative, educational and yet playful? If you don’t happen to have a huge budget but are looking for a quick way to add some flair in the Children’s Room, try a flannel wall!

You will need:

  • Wall space, shelf, or pillar
  • Hot glue & gun
  • Flannel fabric
  • Felt fabric
  • Stick on Velcro tape
  • Die cuts (not necessary, but definitely convenient) & cutter

About Our Flannel Pillar

Our pillar is located in the heart of the Children’s Room and is visible the moment you enter the room.  We covered this black pillar with blue flannel and it displays three different sets of felt activities (one on each accessible side), which then rotate according to seasons or holidays.

Colorful stripes velcroed onto a Flannel Wall Why Do We Need Hot Glue and Velcro?

Felt material will stick to your flannel wall, but not firmly. Similarly, stick-on Velcro pieces do not guarantee a firm hold. To avoid flannel figures falling on the floor, we hot glued Velcro to the figures and that solved the problem. Kids can still move the pieces around, yet these will stay on the flannel. Library staff will also be thankful for the glue, because it reduces the amount of times that they have to pick up the figures from the floor!

For example, these rectangular stripes emphasize patterns and colors. However, children can also use them to create other designs and figures.

A note about the figures: Creativity is your best ally! Don’t hesitate to stock your flannel wall with a variety of shapes, themes, self-explanatory activities, seasonal décor, and passive educational subjects. We used die cuts and a cutter as well as our own templates to create the figures. We used nonwoven fabric, which is thinner than the normal flannel sheet, and thus easier for the cutter machine to cut through.

Colorful geometric shapes on a flannel wallEducational and Inviting

Caregivers were very excited about the flannel pillar. It provided a space for a passive activity while enhancing imagination and learning.

These geometric shapes are very popular. Kids move them around the pillar and mixed them with the other figures. Notice that these shapes are big enough to both be handled by small hands and also, avoids a choking hazard.

Life cycle of an apple tree on a flannel wallThe educational experience of your felt board can also include a STEM passive activity. Here the figures are organized to convey the life cycle of an apple starting from the seed, to the tree, the fruit, the harvest, and consumption, which will produce another seed and repeat the cycle (These figures were ordered online).

"I Knan Old Lady" flannel board storyThe old lady who swallows many animals is a fun felt activity for older kids. Make sure the Lady has a strong hold in your flannel wall, she will become heavy as kids position animals inside her mouth.

Inform Your Staff & Seek Their Assistance

Once your flannel wall idea has been approved, notify the library’s staff of the upcoming implementation. Pages and other staff will be pivotal helping you keep the sustainability of the flannel wall. Moreover, keep in mind that like everything else in your Children’s Room, the flannel wall will be disorganized and need daily (if not hourly) maintenance.
Questions you might have

  • Will it be messy?
    • Yes, but a messy wall indicates usage and popularity.
  • Will the pieces be lost?
    • We have already lost some figures, but because most of them were not bought but made, they are not difficult to replace.
  • Will it be worth the time spent and staff effort?
    • This is a project that will enhance your room and provide a friendly space for passive activities.

Have you done a flannel wall already? I would love to hear your experience with this idea.

(All images are courtesy of Kathia Ibacache)

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Penguin Random House winner, Kathia Ibacache
Kathia Ibacache

Kathia Ibacache, is a Youth Services Librarian at Simi Valley Public Library. She has worked as a music teacher and Early Music Performer, and earned her MLIS from San José State University and a DMA from the University of Southern California. She loves to read realistic fiction and horror stories, and has a special place in her heart for film music.

Please note that as a guest post, the views expressed here do not represent the official position of ALA or ALSC.

If you’d like to write a guest post for the ALSC Blog, please contact Mary Voors, ALSC Blog manager, at alscblog@gmail.com.

2 comments

  1. Tricia

    I took an old flannel/whiteboard easel and covered the whiteboard in flannel as well, then have been changing it up seasonally for a few years now. Pumpkin, turkey, teddy, bunny, zebra, giraffe, Clifford, Mr Potatohead, Mrs Potatohead, Pete the Cat, snowperson, Christmas tree with ornaments, beaver, a map of Canada with provinces and territories … and so many accessories. We have hats, eyes, noses, mouths, hair, bows, buttons, scarves, purses, sneakers. All made with felt in-house. It is ohhhh so messy, but always in use. Parts are constantly being updated. Accessory pieces hang in a plastic kit bag on the arm of the easel and are rotated depending on the subject. The Christmas tree is very popular with kids who don’t celebrate Christmas… they love decorating it! We are a small community branch in a multi-cultural neighbourhood and the easel is out in the picture book area.

  2. Kathia Ibacache

    Hi Tricia,

    How great! you have a long tradition of using your flannel whiteboard.

    Ours is also messy all the time, but it means it is being used. You mentioned that accessory pieces hang in a plastic kit by the easel. Are there accessories available to the public at all times, or you make them available according to the season?
    Thanks for sharing your experience !

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