Guest Author - Terrie Lynn Bittner
I love flannel boards. I use them to tell stories, to display visual aids, to explain complicated materials and even to play games. I use them for adults and children alike. They are a very simple and versatile tool for parents and teachers who like to add visualization to a lesson. They are a fun way to add creativity to your family night lessons.
You can make a flannel board very inexpensively and simply. To make a board, use flannel or felt. Place it on whatever you have handy that is sturdyóóa pizza box, stiff cardboard, a light piece of board or a cereal box. The cereal box is handy for themed collections of pictures, such as a flannel board collection related to the farm or to the story of Nephi. Pieces can be stored inside. The pizza boxes also provide storage. You can line the two inside boards with one color and make a two-level display and then do the outsides in two additional colors. When you teach, use whichever color suits your lesson. If you have a freestanding chalk board, consider putting flannel on the back side. You can use both sides when teaching your lesson.
The Friend and many church manuals contain pictures for your flannel board Church manuals and magazines are available online at LDS.org in the Gospel Library and pictures can be printed. You are not limited to pictures designed for this purpose. Any appropriate picture can be turned into a flannel board picture. Cut out the picture and attach flannel, felt, sandpaper or other textured materials to the back. You can also use magnets on the newer magnetic chalk boards or on purchased magnet boards. Since we donít know what biblical characters looked like, choose figures that are appropriate and reuse them often as various characters.
Always practice a flannel board story before trying to tell it. You need to plan the most effective way to handle the materials. Lay the materials out in the order you will need them. Be sure you can reach them easily, and see them. Practice telling the story from memory so that you will not be trying to read a book and handle the pictures at the same time. Next, practice with the pictures.
Go slowly and pay attention to how the figures look on the board. You donít want too many on display at the same time or your children will be distracted. How will you handle changes in time and place? Where will you put characters you take off the board if you will need them again later and where will they go if you donít need them? Memorize what each character looks like. Even your littlest children will remember who is Laman and who is Lemuel, so don't mix them up. Continue to practice until you can tell the story smoothly and with expression.
You can also use the flannel board to tell stories to adults and teens. Adults, like children, listen better when they have something to look at. Naturally you will use a more sophisticated approach, but the same guidelines for preparation apply.
Flannel boards are good ways to display items other than visuals for stories. Words strips fit nicely on a board. When you need to show progression or stages, use the board to place the steps. Try displaying a scripture on the board instead of on an easel or poster. A clip can attach them if you donít want or need flannel. Many teachers enjoy using a large picture displayed in segments as they teach. For example, they might show a bare garden and gradually add flowers, with each flower representing a principle. This can be done very effectively on a flannel board.
If you are teaching children, let them help build the picture. They can each hold a picture to be placed at the proper moment. Later, they can retell the story as a review, using the flannel board to clue them.
Flannel boards are a great tool for holding your family's attention as you teach your lesson. Once you've become comfortable with the technique, you may wonder how you ever taught without one.