Category Archives: Carpet Squares

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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Carpet Squares: Not Just for Sitting on Anymore

Those good old standbys, carpet squares, can be so much more than just a seat! Check out these cool new ideas for using carper squares in your programs.

1) Surfboards:

Spice up a summertime or ocean-themed program by inviting the kids to climb aboard their carpet squares and surf along with your favorite Beach Boys tune!

 

2) Color Action Game:

If you have carpet squares of different colors, use them to play a color recognition action game. (If all your carpet squares are the same color, put processing dots of different colors in the corners.) Then sing the song below and invite the kids to perform the actions:

(to the tune of “If You’re Happy and You Know It”)

If your carpet square is red, pat your head.

If your carpet square is red, pat your head.

If your carper square is red, then go ahead and show it.

If your carpet square is red, pat your head.

Blue…touch your shoe…

Yellow…wave to a fellow…

Brown…jump up and down…

White…curl up tight…

Green…do a forward lean…

Black…scratch your friend’s back…

Grey…shout “hooray!”

Any color…give a holler!…

 

3) Play a life-sized board game:

Set up a path of carpet squares around the room, randomly mixing up colors. (Again, if your carpet squares are all one color, mark the corners with different colored processing dots.) Designate a starting and ending square. Create cards of each color by cutting up pieces of construction paper (or put dots on index cards if you are using the dot method. If desired, mark some squares with pictures relating to your theme and make cards to match. (For example, a Fall storytime might include a pumpkin, apple, leaf, and tree.) Have the children line up at the starting square and then take turns drawing a card from the pile. If a child draws a red card, he or she goes to the first red square. If a child draws a picture card, he or she must go to that square, even if that means going backwards. Keep playing (reshuffling cards as needed) until everyone gets to the end.

Literacy variations:
  • Alphabet matching: Mark the squares with letters of the alphabet and make cards to match. (Or use a set of magnetic alphabet letters and have each child draw one out of a bag on his or her turn.) Be sure to ask the child to identify the letter and match it to the correct square.
  • What’s that sound?: Mark the squares with letters of the alphabet as above, but make cards with simple words that begin with different letters of the alphabet. On each child’s turn, read a word aloud without showing it to the child, and see if the children can guess the first letter by sound. If they have trouble, show them the card and help them identify the first letter and its sound before moving to the correct square. (Make sure that the letters on your cards and squares are consistently uppercase or consistently lowercase to avoid confusion.)
  • Big and Little Matching: Mark the squares with uppercase letters of the alphabet, and make cards showing the lowercase letters. The children must match the letters to find the correct square.

 

4) Make Your Own Flannelboard:

Give each child a carpet square and a set of simple felt shapes, and invite them to tell the story along with you as you use the large flannelboard. This is a great activity for baby storytimes, as it encourages one-on-one interaction between parent and child, and gives parents a useful model for storytelling with their little ones at home. A simple flannelboard story such “Dog’s Colorful Day”, based on the book by Emma Dodd, is ideal for this activity. (Download a free flannelboard pattern by artist Melanie Fitz here.)

For older children, consider using this activity with a tangram story. Tangrams, a traditional Chinese puzzle and storytelling form, are easy to make and can yield thousands of different shapes. Check out one of the books below for stories and instructions on how to make a tangram set:

  • Grandfather Tang’s Story: A Tale Told With Tangrams by Ann Tompert. New York: Crown, 1990.
  • Grandfather’s Shape Story by Brian Sargent. New York: Scholastic, 2007.

 

5) Lilypads:

Liven up a froggy storytime with this rhyme, performed on carpet square lilypads.  Follow up by inviting the kids to hop from lilypad to lilypad around the room while you play a frog song such as “Jumping Frog” from Pretend by Hap Palmer (Freeport, NY: Educational Activities, Inc., 1998).

Lilypad Rhyme

I am a frog, lovely and green

I sit on my lilypad, calm and serene

Until a fly comes whizzing by

Then I LEAP in the air so high!

I stick out my tongue and SLURP.

Down goes the fly and out comes a burp.

I like being a frog, so I don’t think I’ll stop

Because it’s so much fun to hop!

There goes another fly, I really must dash.

I hop into the water with a great big SPLASH!

 

6) Tuffets:

Invite the kids to imagine that they are Miss Muffet sitting on her tuffet and act out the silly rhyme below.

Miss Muffet’s Tuffet

Little Miss Muffet sat on her tuffet

Eating her curds and whey

Along came a spider and sat down beside her

And frightened Miss Muffet away.

But she came back around and sat back down

And continued then to eat.

Her toes got cold, so she was told

To put the tuffet on her feet!

Miss Muffet was done, she’d eaten a ton

But she didn’t care.

The spider came back and jumped on her back

So she waved her tuffet in the air!

It started to rain, she said, “What a pain!

I don’t want my hair to get wet!”

So she lifted her hands like that, and made up a hat

She put the tuffet on her head!

The rain started to slow, and the spider had to go

So she said, “I’ll see you around!”

She put the tuffet on the floor, and then once more

She sat herself back down!