I grew up back in the dark ages, before people even had personal computers! I know that’s very hard to imagine, but it was a great time to grow up in lots of ways. Moms worked at home and we had WONDERFUL school events. Every year, the weekend before Halloween my elementary school had a Fall Carnival, and I mean it was a real carnival, complete with red and white striped awnings, fortune teller in her tent, haunted house maze through the school stage area, confetti eggs, and live goldfish. I’ve never seen anything like it during my many, many years of teaching—no one has the time to devote to such elaborate events anymore, but it was one of the many benefits of growing up in a more community oriented time.
One of the childhood school materials I used right up to my last day of teaching was a flannel board. (Doesn’t look like much, does it?) I loved making characters to teach Bible stories to my friends when we had a Good News club in my backyard playroom. We did all kinds of things with those flannel boards—
- retell stories,
- pass out pieces and tell the stories as a team,
- use the same characters and make up our own stories,
- change the settings for the stories,
- change the characters for the stories,
- make new problems for the characters to solve,
- make up our own characters and stories.
Flannel boards are probably why I understood so well how to develop a story–and my students were known for being good story writers, too!
One of the first classroom materials I ever made was Senorita Bruja—a flannel witch I used to help four-year-olds learn body parts in Spanish. Since then I’ve used flannel boards for lots of different classroom activities including
- story telling
- story inventing
- math manipulatives
- math story problems
- finger plays
- vocabulary building
- and all kinds of language development activities.
There’s probably nothing you can’t do on a flannel board. It may seem old fashioned, but in every class of little ones I’ve had (second grade and below) I’ve always had at least 2-3 children who just LOVED the flannel board. I could get concepts through to them with it that I couldn’t get through in any other way.
And now that we can get magnetic paper, it’s even easier to create the same type of activity using magnetic white boards. There is just no end of uses for magnetic stuff in classrooms, and at home, too!