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Using Flannel Boards in Early Childhood Education

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What is a flannel board or story board?  It is an invaluable and versatile educational tool for preschool teachers and children.  The story board has become an integral part of the preschool curriculum. It is basically a story-telling board covered in a flannel or felt  material that teachers can use with preschoolers to tell visual stories with pictures, storyboard shapes and a variety of other manipulatives that are made from flannel or felt cut-outs (flannel sticks to flannel).  Flannel boards can come in a variety of sizes and can be mounted on a wall or be a smaller table-top style with an easel that easily folds up to put away.

 

The table-top style is great for small groups of children and encourages more participation and interaction and can easily be stored away.  The larger wall-mounted style is more permanent and better for large groups such as in a classroom setting.  Flannel boards or story-boards can be purchased commercially but it is very easy to make your own.  Some of the commercially bought ones have a magnetic side on the reverse for use with magnetic manipulatives and some may have whiteboards on the reverse.

 

Story re-telling is an important skill in developing language and memory skills with preschoolers.  Pre-literacy is important and even toddlers will benefit from listening and watching as older children play. Younger children always learn by observing and modeling older children.  Most preschool settings have a multi-age population and age overlaps for various groups, just as most families do.

 

Encouraging a child to re-tell a story or a number sequence or identify colors and shapes is a great independent activity as well as partner fun.  Re-telling reinforces learning and abstract concepts.   Preschoolers will gravitate toward this anyway if the materials are left on the board for their use.  They will also make up their own creative stories using the flannel board shapes in a free-play setting.  Children enjoy touching and feeling the soft manipulative shapes.   

 

For parents, flannel board play is a great independent activity for quiet times such as waiting at the doctor’s office, long car rides or just before bedtime or nap time. Flannel boards are also fun for rainy day activities for kids. Teachers love to use them for everything from storytelling; abc kids games, themed lesson-plans to teaching songs, rhymes and finger plays.

 

Flannel board sets are soft, colorful felt cutouts of shapes, alphabet letters (upper and lower case) colors, numbers or story characters and props.   Commercial sets can be found for fairy tales, nursery rhymes, popular literature, safety lessons, maps, the seasons, calendars, animals (zoo, jungle, farm, pets, etc.), special holidays, dinosaurs, multi-cultural ideas, Bible characters, games, transportation and many more early childhood themes. They can be purchased pre-cut or teachers and caregivers on a budget can make their own designs from felt. 

 

Flannel board activities are fun for families, pre-school centers, Head Start centers, home daycare providers, home school families, early childhood education settings, Sunday school teachers, special education classrooms,  librarians, and school teachers in the lower elementary grades.  Even teachers in higher grades may find good use of flannel boards for teaching the States or other geography, maps or math lessons. The usefulness is virtually endless. From Rainy Day Prek!



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Recommend a Board Game for an Advanced Toddler?

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Activities for 3 year olds: My son will be turning 3 next month. I want to get him a board game, but the problem with board games that are meant for his age, is that he already knows his ABC’s (upper and lowercase) and how to count to 20. (Known since he was 20 months old.) He gets bored with things he already knows, and games that are meant for kids ages 6 and over are a bit too much for him. Do you know any ABC kids games that are in-between? Anything that teaches counting over 20, and how to put letters together to form small words.

 


 

My daughter just turned 3 and is also advanced.Her favorite board game is “Chutes and Ladders” and she also likes the memory game. I know it isn’t a board game but it does cover what you’re looking for.We bought our daughter a V-Smile for Xmas and it has some wonderful games that do all the things you’re looking for. And they are age appropriate starting with activities for 2 year olds and going up. My daughter loves the Thomas game as well as the alphabet game (abc kids games) …Just a thought because I know how hard it is when you have an advanced toddler to find something that keeps teaching them without boring them… M.G




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Scribbles Masterpiece – Art Activities for 2 Year Olds

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Finger Painting Toddler

Art for toddlers (ages 12-36 months) and young preschoolers is an often misunderstood concept. Can the scribbles that two year old children create really be called art? Absolutely! Allowing a two year old to explore art materials and create something unique is an important part of child development. It is important to plan some age appropriate art activities for 2 year olds into the daily schedule. At around age 2, your child is beginning to gain greater muscle control so fine motor skills are more targeted. Also, eye-hand coordination is improving which helps the child to be more focused on the art project. Attention span is also improving.

So, although the child’s art looks like scribbles and splatters – much more paint or crayon is making it to the paper rather than on the child and table. The child is able to make some repetitive shapes like circles or ovals or a series of lines – still not very discernable but a definite improvement over last year’s skills (even just last season’s skills!) They will begin to show greater control over the markers, crayons or paint brushes which will reflect in the finished art work. Scribbling can be hard work too – strengthening the muscles in the hand as the child holds tightly while scribbling.

From birth to age three, a child’s physical control over the body improves greatly month by month. Each small skill and effort at coordination becomes more refined and fine tuned. And so will the results of his art activities. Between the age of two and three the child will begin to make the connection that pictures represent something that is in real life – this is called ‘representational thinking’. They may begin to name the shapes in the drawings. At this age, art activities for 2 year olds are all about exploring and manipulating the medium whether it is paints, pudding or peanut butter!

Sensory perception is the way toddlers and preschoolers learn about their world. It is through sight, sound, hearing and especially taste and touch that they can internalize and eventually understand what the world is made of. Adult supervision must be keen because this age group still experiments by touching, smelling and tasting objects so if the play-doh smells like cherries you can bet they may try to taste and eat it! Incorporating art activities for 2 year olds into your daily preschool curriculum will enhance their development and provide rich learning experiences.

Celebrate their success with praise, stickers and a special place to hang their masterpiece for all to see.

From Rainy Day PreK !


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