Ask any preschool teacher to list her top 10 teaching tools, and a flannel board is likely to appear on that list. Flannel boards serve as a neutral, reusable surface for stories, songs and finger plays. So when your preschooler says he's bored, pull out the flannel and felt, and turn your living room into a hands-on learning room.
Making the Flannel Board
If you don't already own a flannel board, the good news is that they are simple to make and require just a few supplies from a craft store. Choose a painter's canvas in any size, and then grab enough flannel to cover the front of it. Neutral colors are best to display a variety of stories and characters. Light blue will look like the sky and pale yellow a sandy beach. Avoid distracting patterns.
Smooth the piece of flannel across the floor or large table. Place the canvas on top of the flannel piece. Center the canvas in the middle of the flannel, canvas side against the flannel. Make sure that the flannel is at least four inches longer than the canvas on all sides.
Fold one side of the flannel over the back of the canvas. Use a staple gun to staple the flannel to the back edge of the canvas, pulling it tight and smooth as you go. Add a staple every 3 to 4 inches. Continue this process until all sides of the flannel are firmly attached to the canvas board. Flip the canvas over and you'll have a beautiful flannel board, ready for decorating.
Decorating the Flannel Board
Decorating the flannel board is your opportunity to get creative. Most teachers use pieces of felt to create characters for the flannel boards. The felt sticks to the flannel, allowing you or your child to tell a story, moving the characters as needed. Gather pieces of felt in a variety of colors and sizes.
Use the felt as is, cutting out simple shapes and decorating with markers. Or if you'd prefer more detail in your pictures, print or draw story characters onto pieces of paper. Cut out the characters and use a hot-glue gun to attach the paper to a similarly sized piece of felt. Trim off the excess felt as needed.
Involve your child and encourage her to use her imagination to create characters. Need inspiration? Many preschool teachers use flannel boards to tell counting songs and stories, such as "Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed" or "Five Little Ducks." Traditional fairy tales also work well on flannel boards, like "Goldilocks and the Three Bears" and "The Three Little Pigs." Don't be afraid to think outside the box -- Maggie and the Magical Macaroni? Why not?