Flannel Friday: Flannel Organization and Preservation

That title sounds like it could be a class in library school and no, I do not have a flannel story about organization and preservation (though it would make that class a LOT more interesting!).  We are currently on a story time break and I have no new flannels to share.  We tend to get the month of August off to wind down from summer and gear up for the fall season, so I will be making more soon.  Plus, for the last two weeks I was for too distracted by the Olympics to be posting.  Therefore, this week I am sharing my flannel storing tips.

Fist off, flannel organization:
Each person in our department has a file drawer to do what we please with.  Mine is currently being used for storing my flannel / foamie stories, though I am quickly running out of space.  I suppose I could move into boxes, but I like having the whole collection together.  I have a large envelope for each story and the envelopes are shoved in there alphabetically.  I do have a decent sized section at the beginning with those that have a number in the title, such as 5... or 10..., first by number then subject.  Fairly straight forward.
I keep a template in a Word document so that I can have uniform labels on all of my envelopes (very anal librarian of me, I know).  Each label has first the title, larger and bolded, and then additional information, such as 'based on the book...'  Sometimes I share pieces among stories, so if that is the case I will note that under the title, i.e. 'use cow and pig pieces from 5 Red Apples.'  Often I will type out the entire rhyme or story if it is not from a book.  If the rhyme is particularly long I will leave a printed copy in the envelope to pull out and use during story time.  If I save any paper templates I will also keep those in the envelope in case of future emergency.
 In addition to my Word document I also keep an Excel spreadsheet with the titles of all my flannels.  Each entry has a spot for four possible themes.  For example, the entry 5 Red Apple has the themes: counting, animals, food, and Based on the book 10 red apples by Pat Hutchins.  Obviously not every entry has something in all four categories.  And, in many cases I could add more but I pick the four that are most obvious or are more useable for story time.
I try to update my spreadsheet at the end of each story time session.  We have four a year and that seems to work well for me.  During the sessions I stack any new flannels at the front of my drawer until they have a labeled envelope and are added to the spreadsheet.  I e-mail the spreadsheet to my co-workers every so often, just so they know what we've got (there are 4 of us doing story times).  I used to have a column for the last time I used a flannel story, but I also keep a story time theme spreadsheet with the books and songs I used each week, so I note the flannel story there.

Next up, flannel preservation:
Well, I am not sure how much preservation this really is, a little, but the envelopes are part of that too.  Basically, this part is my new glitter preservation trick.  I like to really like to amp up my foam pieces with glitter whenever possible (I think this stems from my dad's ban of all things glitter when I was a child).  Usually this means spreading a decent amount of glue around and shaking LOTS of glitter over top of it.  You can use the glitter glue, but I just don't think it has the same sparkle.  The upside is that my pieces stand out, are memorable, and often get an audible crowd reaction.  The downside: glitter EVERYWHERE.  My lovely co-workers do not complain about the trail I leave from the work room to the story time room, or the puddle that is left on our shared story time cart, or the chairs, or the desk...  But, they are rather polite, and, at the very least, it drives me nuts (partly because that means there is less glitter on the piece).

Recently I realized that if I spread a coat of Mod Podge over the glitter it will stop it from coming off everywhere and still allow the sparkle (I'm sure regular old glue could work too, but I have not tested that theory).  So, I coated all of my glittery pieces with one coat of Mod Podge and no more glitter trail!  Now, I can glitter to my heart's content and not worry that in a few years I will have to re-glitter my flannel boards.  **Be advised that the Mod Podge does leave a shiny sheen.  This does not matter when coating glitter, but if you goof and get it somewhere else that part will shine a bit when dried.  Though that could come in handy if you want something to look wet!**
Freshly Mod Podged piece
Dried piece; white goo turns to a clear and shiny top coat
Lots of glitter-ized at various stages of dry-ness

Now that you know how to organize and preserve your flannels, you need to go make some!  You can find this week's ideas with Mollie at What Happens in Storytime...  All things Flannel Friday related can be located at the Flannel Friday Blog and all posts are pinned to the boards on Pinterest.


  1. I have a very similar method of organizing our storytime visuals. I use the manila envelopes and write the name of the rhyme/book/song on the front. I keep a copy of the rhyme or story (not a copy of the book, but I always include title and author) in the envelope with the visual. Right now I have a volunteer working on cross referencing my Excel database and she is also working on taking a picture of every visual so we can put it on the outside of the envelope. That way, all the librarians will know what the visual looks like before taking it out and using it. This has become a massive project since we have hundreds of storytime visuals. I ran out of room in my file cabinet drawer, so I have had to move it to a larger Rubbermaid tub. That quickly filled up and we still have more visuals to store. I don't know what we are going to do. Thanks for sharing your method. I might incorporate your cross referencing tools for the Excel database.

  2. I love the mod podge idea! I use the Excel spreadsheet too, but I have 4 scary drawers to keep track of. :)

  3. Great post! I have to admit that I'm not nearly as organized as you. My flannels are kept in plastic Ziplock bags, only half of them have the corresponding rhyme/story/instructions (I'm working on that), and they're all thrown together into a big Rubbermaid tub. And I have no Excel sheet; I just keep them all in my head (granted, I don't have that many just yet.)

  4. Using mod podge is a great tip - thanks for sharing!

  5. Great tips! Wish I was as organized as you are! I think I have this mental block that tells me that I will be less creative if I am organized. :o} Silly, I know!

    Maybe your post is just what I need to inspire me to get more organized. I do have to say that I am a little more organized since I started my blog. I credit FF for that!

    Thanks for sharing!
    Enjoy your weekend!
    ~ K ~

  6. Oh my gosh - you are living up to the profession by being so organized! I use ziplock bags and big plastic boxes, but the excel idea is brilliant, including the 4 themed areas. Thank you!!

  7. Haha! Thanks everyone, but I have to admit, one of the only things organized about me is my flannel drawer! It does really help when I need to grab one last minute, or if anyone else needs one. If anyone from my family read this post they would wonder who in the world I was writing about :)