Not Your Grandma’s Flannelboard

As long as there have been library storytimes, there have been flannelboards. Here are some suggestions to give them new energy in your programs. 

1) Use yourself as a flannelboard:

Put on an apron with pockets to hold the flannel pieces and tell a story on your belly.

 

2) Use a story-appropriate object instead of a board:

Telling a story about cooking or food? Use a pot, flat pan or spatula with magnetized pieces. How about a metal music stand for a music-related story? Repurpose an old pet carrier or aquarium to help you tell an animal story. You could even raid your local junkyard for part of an old car to use for a transportation-related story!

 

3) Group storytelling:

Create pockets on the bottom of a freestanding flannelboard and fill them with a variety of pieces from your favorite flannelboards. Let each child have a turn to pull a piece out and add it to the board and telling part of a story. For example: Child 1 pulls out a dog and says one sentence about the dog, then Child 2 pulls out a sun and says a sentence about the sun that relates to the first… The dog went out to play, and the sun was shining…

4) Flannelboard hide and seek:

Hide flannel pieces (apple, balloon, car…) around the room, then give each child a letter of the alphabet and ask him or her to find the item that starts with that letter. If you want to work on counting, have each child find a certain number of items around the room.

 

5) Make your own flannelboard:

Pass out a carpet square and a set of simple pieces to each child so the children can tell the story along with you. (This is especially great for tangrams, an ancient puzzle/storytelling form from Asia! Find easy tangram patterns here.)

 

6) Color match:

Make multiple pieces of a flannelboard in different colors. Pass the pieces out to each child and ask them to come up and place their pieces on the board when you call their color. Some suggestions to use with this idea:

  • “The Little Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe”: cut simple child shapes to pass out (There was an old lady who lived in a shoe, and she had so many green children she didn’t know what to do…)
  • “Baa Baa Black Sheep”: cut sheep shapes to pass out and repeat the song several times, replacing “black” with other colors
  • “The Wheels on the Bus”: pass out animal shapes and sing the song with various animal sounds (The cows on the bus say moo, moo, moo…)

7) Mix and match forms:

Try using a flannelboard to preview a book, or to have the children help you retell a book after reading. Sing a song like “I Know an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly”, then use the flannelboard to review the story/song sequence with the children. Doing so reinforces narrative and sequencing, which are important pre-reading skills

 

8) Play a memory game:

After telling a story, song, or rhyme with the flannelboard, play a visual memory game. Ask the children to close their eyes, then take one item away. Tell the children to open their eyes, and see if they can identify which item is missing. (Once they do, place the item back on the board to show where it was.) Repeat until all the items are gone. You can even take this activity one step further by teaching Spanish, American Sign Language, or other vocabulary for the flannelboard items, and asking the children to identify the missing item using their new vocabulary.

 

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