Saturday, September 10, 2011

Flannel Board Free

When I started working in NYC I didn't even know what a flannel board WAS. I don't know if anyone in NY Public Library was using them back then.

Thinking back in fact, I'd say that as good as the training at NYPL was for children's librarians--and it was--it was sadly lacking in terms of story hour training. We were taught to storytell in a very traditional way (more about that sometime)but aside from that and learning how to select books, most of what I learned I learned on my own.

And I am very, very, grateful to have worked with the children's librarian who did story hours at the library I came to work at down here in Virginia. As much of a pain in the ass as "Guitar Lady" was as a coworker (and she WAS!)she was and is a marvelous, creative storyteller. By the time she resigned and I had to start doing ALL the story programs, I had really learned the basics and was ready to branch out.
"Guitar Lady" is now a freelance performer and does much better at that than she did working in an office environment, where she regularly pissed off the staff. I hire her each summer to do some programs 
with me and thoroughly enjoy it.

But back to flannel boards. What "Guitar Lady" used and I soon caught onto were not flannel boards, but  MAGNET boards. Instead of cutting objects from flannel and getting them to stick onto flannel, we made our shapes from paper, covered them with clear Contact paper, and added stick on magnet tape to the back. Then we used them on a blackboard easel.

Magnetboard shapes have a lot of advantages over flannel. Making them is much easier since you don't need to make patterns and cut flannel. Back then, we had designs in books and we would just copy them and color them. Later, Print Shop software helped as well. Nowadays, with the Internet  I can get patterns right off websites, or get pictures from sites like Google Images.  A color printer does the work, or I can always use magic markets, fabric paints and glitter glue to augment the designs.

But their biggest advantage is that they stick and don't fall off of the board, as I've seen flannel boards do. I remember going to a "sharing" program for a batch of local library systems and watching with sympathy as a pair of librarians struggled with a lovely flannel set that kept tumbling off the board. "Guitar Lady" and I just looked at each other and were glad that we used magnetboards!

Over the years though, I've found myself using them less and less, because flannel/magnet boards are basically flat objects on a board. I've found that props or puppets are much more creative and hold the kids attention far better than board stories.

Plus, you don't have kids rushing up trying to pull items off the board. Because they DO........

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