Flannel Board and Shoe Box Stories
An Article written by Mandy
(reprinted with permission from Kaleidoscope Family Child Care Home)

Flannel boards have so many uses. I have a large one on my wall and a few smaller ones that the children can uses where ever they choose. My large one has my calendar, with calendar pieces and theme related clip art and pictures in the center. Our weather pictures and “weather bear” are on the left side and the right side is used for our flannel stories and activities.

You do not need to spend a lot of money on a flannel board. Using the back of a chair or couch works great as well as carpet (I have several little carpet mats we use for group flannel stories). Another great an inexpensive idea is to cover the inside lid of a pizza box or shoe box with flannel, you can then store your flannel pieces inside the box . If you make several of these you can use one for each story or activity and label the outside and store stacked on a shelf for easy finding. For larger flannel boards cover a large piece of plywood or cardboard and screw it to your wall. I had a friend that found one of those carpeted office dividers at a second hand store for $5.00. It was the best flannel board ever! It could be moved anywhere and used on both sides. I used to drool over it all the time!..lol A good hint to remember when choosing your flannel is that the pieces will stand out better if you use a darker coloured flannel.

When I first stated childcare I steered clear of flannel boards, the pre-school I worked at had a large expensive board, with expensive pieces and a lady at the church the pre-school was in would also sew these beautiful elaborate stories and rhyme pieces. This is what I thought a flannel board was, I chickened out thinking I could never do that, and never have enough money to make it worthwhile. But I soon discovered that flannel pieces are easy to make and so inexpensive, with little creativity needed. Figure out what story, song, poem or rhyme you would like a flannel pieces for. Look in colouring books for compatible pictures, clip art sites, you teacher resource books or hand draw and then colour. Glue onto heavier paper (I use the back of old file folders for this) and then cover on both sides with clear contact (mac-tac) paper. Attach a piece of sticky backed velcro on the back so it will attach to the flannel board. Easy, inexpensive and very durable! I have also heard of others attaching a piece of sand paper or a dryer sheet to the back instead of velcro, I personally have never tried it, but it is supposed to work well. I also have made flannel pieces out of flannel. I just trace, cut and cheat by using fabric glue. I usually do this for less elaborate stories.

Another really neat idea I came across was for “box stories”. You need a shoe box, cover it with coloured paper. On one of the long sides glue 5 clothes pegs clip side facing up to the inside rim. You use this similar to a puppet theater. Put the laminated story or rhyme pieces inside the box and place the box on your lap. As you tell the story attach the pieces to the clothes pegs. The children really enjoy this!

I hope these ideas inspire and help you out! Have fun!

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