Flannelboards!

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You may have noticed something new on the table in the children’s section…

For those of you who don’t know what this is, or what you do with it, this post is for you!  This brilliant little thing is a flannel board (or felt board), and it is used by teachers, librarians and parents for storytelling and creative play with their students/children.  The purpose of this post is to inform you of the benefits of flannel board play, as well as to encourage you to make your own!

What is a flannel board?

A flannel board is a flat surface (such as thick cardboard, an artist’s canvas, etc) that has been covered with flannel, felt, or other fabric with a nap.  To use the flannel board, cut shapes or images from felt (or paper that has been laminated with sandpaper or velcro adhered to the back).  The pieces will stick to the board for listeners to view while the story is being told.

What are the benefits of using a flannel board?

-Visual representation of a story helps some listeners understand better

-Interactive (oral participation–ask children to identify the piece you are about to put on the board; physical participation–children can place the pieces or take them away)

-Entertaining

-Seeing the pieces prompts the storyteller’s memory of what comes next in the story

-Since flannelboard stories are told without a book, it allows direct contact with listeners

How can I make my own flannelboard?

I was able to make two small flannelboards very quickly and easily with things I had lying around my office.  I followed the directions here and they worked very well.  You can also go here for instructions on how to use a clean pizza box to make a clever flannel board with a place to carry your pieces.

What you need:

thick cardboard (I had two 11″ x 14″ sheets of about that I glued together) or artist’s canvas

felt (pick a neutral color so that all pieces will show up well.  I used gray)

scissors

spray adhesive

glue gun

packing tape

What to do:

1.  If you have two pieces of cardboard like I did, spray one with spray adhesive and lay the other one on top.  Use packing tape to reinforce the edges on all four sides.  If you are using artist’s canvas or a single sheet of cardboard, proceed to step 2.

2.  Lay felt out flat and place the cardboard or canvas on top.  Cut around the cardboard, leaving a bit of room on the edges so that you can fold it up onto the back.

3.  Pick up the cardboard and spray the felt with spray adhesive.

4.  Place the cardboard in the center of the felt and press down firmly.

5.  Use glue gun to place lines of glue on all four sides of the back of cardboard.  Leave corners up without glue–you will cut them later (see the link above for very helpful pictures).

6.  When you have glued all four sides with glue gun, go back and cut the corners with scissors, leaving a mitered corner (again, see the link above–you’ll know what I mean when you see her picture.)

7.  Use packing tape for extra reinforcement along the back like so:

Now, what do I do with it?

For my first set, I just cut basic shapes out of different colored felt.  However, the possibilities are endless.  You can also make pieces by printing out or copying a picture (or using one from a coloring book!), cutting it out, and laminating it with clear contact paper (see my Silly Sally post for a how-to on this inexpensive way to laminate!)  Then, place one or more velcro dots on the back to make it stick to the flannelboard (see my Soup-er Storytime post to see the one I did for the vegetable soup song!)  You can make felt pieces for songs, stories, or just making pictures.  You can tell your child stories using the pieces, then they can tell you a story using the pieces.

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