Dec 19, 2011

All About Felt Stories (Flannel Board)

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom
Early childhood educators have been using felt stories (flannel board stories) for years. The felt pieces will sit upright onto felt boards or easels, thus allowing caregivers to provide colourful and vibrant visual aides to a group of preschoolers. In addition, young children enjoy playing with felts themselves. Felt pieces can be used for telling a story or poem, as a visual addition to lyrics of a song, to help teach concepts, or utilize as a transition out of group circle.

The Benefits of Using Felts in Early Childhood Settings

Felt material is beneficial to all young children, but in particular is useful for children who need extra attention visually. Children who have speech delays benefit with large visual pieces to view as the words are being spoken, as with children whose language being spoken is not their first language learnt at home.

Furthermore, felt boards can help children who are hearing impaired as the pieces are easy to see. At a group circle, the teacher/storyteller can give felt pieces out to the children to bring to the board and contribute, thus involving children who otherwise might be easily distracted and/or disruptive to the teacher led activities. The benefits of this alternative way of storytelling and teaching are plentiful.

Felt Stories and Poems

One of the favourite ways to use felt boards is to tell a story with the felt pieces. Stories and poems that have limited pieces or that involve pieces coming off and on to a board work the best. When there are too many felts needed to effectively tell the story, the board can become too busy and difficult for the storyteller to manage effectively. Some suggestions of books that transfer well to felt stories are Eric Carle's Brown Bear, Brown Bear and The Very Hungry Caterpillar, The Rainbow Fish by Marcus Pfister and I Know and Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly.

In addition, using short poems are a wonderful way of displaying the felts onto a board for the children to enjoy.

Felts With Songs

Songs can be enjoyed with the visual support of felts. The children can listen to music on CD or join in with the teacher to sing. Some great songs that correlate well to felts are fingerplay songs which have the number five in the title. Five is a nice number of felts to view on a board! Plus, we have five fingers to use for extra visualization and child engagement, such as:
 Felt Glove: Five Little Monkeys Swinging on the Tree
  • Five Little Ducks
  • Five Green and Speckled Frogs
  • Five Little Monkeys

Using Felts to Teach Concepts

Felt pieces are a wonderful way to teach children concepts, such as color and number recognition, sizing and matching to name a few. By allowing the children to bring the felts to the boards they are learning with hands-on experiences. Some ideas for this type of learning involvement are matching winter mittens, correlating colour cars to colour garages, placing autumn leaves in the right order from small, medium and large, and matching numbered raindrops to the right numbers on an umbrella.

Felt Pieces and Transition

Lastly, felt pieces on the board can facilitate children transitioning out of circle. In Early Childhood programs, such as preschool and daycare, it is best for children to leave the group in a slow transition, to aid with structure and pace. For instance, if all the children leave the carpet area and rush to the washroom to wash their hands before snack, it potentially leads to problems that need to be addressed. Asking children to come to the board one by one helps with transition. An Educator can ask questions, for instance, "can you find me the red car?" followed by, "great, now you can leave to wash your hands".

Felts are fun for children to use, watch and learn from. Felt material is durable and timeless and is a wonderful addition to any early childhood educator's toolbox.