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by Karen Paulson
November 25, 2000
Here's a project to make that is inexpensive, easy, and fun-- a flannel board, which may also be known as a felt board.
A flannel board is simply a board covered with flannel or felt, and is used by placing shapes, symbols, and story character cutouts on it. After making a board, you will likely find it useful in many various ways. A flannel board offers a nice alternative way to share stories with children; it can be used to help little ones count, add, and subtract; and, in addition, it is helpful when explaining other skills, such as letter, shape, and color recognition.
HOW TO MAKE A FLANNEL BOARD
There are various materials you can choose from when creating a board, such as plywood, cork, and heavy cardboard. Make it as big as you like, but do consider storage. A rectangular board that is about two feet high and three feet long will be plenty big without being too large.
Cover the board with felt or heavy flannel. This will provide a background base for your cutouts. Black and light blue colors work well for this. Measure your board, and allow for a two-inch overlap on all of the sides. (Once I covered a board with the underside of an old vinyl table cloth, and it worked, too.) When securing the fabric, avoid using glue on the front side of the board under the fabric. Glue will interfere with the static electricity needed to make the cutouts adhere to the board. I have, however, used a hot glue gun to secure the fabric on the back side of the board.
To use, you might find it comfortable to sit on the floor, and lean the board against a chair, or you may prefer to set it on an easel.
Cutouts can be created with any material that will cling to the board. Here are some recommendations: felt, interfacing, construction paper, etc. When using paper shapes, covering them with contact paper, or having them laminated is recommended; Doing so will make your pieces sturdy. Attaching some pieces of felt or sandpaper to back sides of the covered paper pieces will ensure that they will stick to the board, too.
Coloring books are an excellent source for finding simple patterns to use when making your cutouts. Trace the pattern onto paper, then transfer it to felt, or just use the paper picture itself.
To add accents and embellish your cutouts, some good choices are: felt pens, colored pencils, fabric paints, craft paints, water paints, and crayons. If you use crayons and colored pencils on interfacing, you can set the colors by placing the interfacing between two sheets of wax paper, and pressing it with a warm iron.
Using Tacky glue to attach layers of fabric or paper onto a cutout figure looks very attractive. To do this, cut out the base shape first, such as a simple body shape made from felt or interfacing. Then cut out the clothing for the figure from other felt pieces, and, applying glue along the edges, attach the clothing to the character's body.
To store your flannel board cutouts, manila envelopes come in handy. Label each envelope so your child will be able to find the story he or she is looking for. If your child is a pre-reader, draw or glue on a picture depicting the story inside the envelope. Place all the envelopes upright in a box.
FLANNEL BOARD TECHNIQUES
Know a story well, so that you can tell it to your child, using the flannel characters as visual aids. Keep story figures out of sight, such as behind the board, then bring them out and press them onto the board when it is the appropriate time in the story for them. This adds an element of surprise for the children.
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Hope you will enjoy it!
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