Felt storyboards or flannel board stories is a multi-sensory activity. It is the way of storytelling using a board covered with flannel and objects made of felt that can stick to the board.
This visual aid requires preparation: choosing an appropriate text, creating characters, and other props. During telling the story the teacher or/and the students add felt pieces to the board according to the plot. Felt storyboards work best with very young learners.
What are the benefits of using felt storyboards?
First of all, it is more engaging when the story is told than read. Even if you can’t narrate dramatically, different characters will catch young learners’ attention and help you to make a bright show.
Secondly, this activity fosters creativity and encourages imagination especially if new scenarios are added by children.
Thirdly, telling a story using a board increases group participation which is really wonderful for shy pupils.
Storyboards help to develop language and skills: enlarge vocabulary and grammar, improve listening, encourage speaking. Children will retell the story or repeat the phrases from it after listening to it many times.
Moreover, it is much easier to organize felt storytelling than a finger or hand puppet theatre. If a tale involves 5-7 puppets, you have to practise controlling the characters.
What can felt storyboards be based on?
Preferably, simple and short narratives that don’t require too many characters. Such as:
- short stories
- simple fairy tales
Tips for using storyboards with young learners
- Even people who can’t sew can manage to create a felt story. It’s easy to cut figures using patterns and hot glue for attaching small details. I usually create patterns myself without trying to make them perfect.
- A board is made of cardboard covered with flannel or fleece. The simplest way to create it is to use a big photo frame. The fabric for the background should be either light or dark with neutral colours such as sky blue, different shades of green, grey, or brown. Personally, I prefer dark colours because in this case, neither of the figures blend into the background.
- Check that all characters fit on your felt board. Make a couple of boards different in size for different purposes.
- Such props as lakes, forests, houses, furniture pieces can be made and used for all the stories.
- For large classes, a board should be bigger and it is easier if it hangs on the wall so that the teacher has both hands free.
- You need to know the text by heart. A short plan or a script can help.
- Before telling a tale, place the felt pieces in an easily accessible place for you and your children. Put figures in order of their appearance.
- You can pre-teach some words by demonstrating felt pieces.
- When you describe the events encourage the children to help by adding props. If the narrative is familiar, ask them to finish some phrases. The pupils can also produce different sounds made by animals, transport etc.
- After finishing the narration, you can ask simple questions to discuss the characters: Was she happy or sad when…? Did Goldilocks behave well or badly?
- Felt storyboard is great for playing language games. For example, “Mouse, mouse, are you in the red house?”, which practises colours. Hide the mouse under one of the houses while pupils don’t look. Encourage them to guess by asking: “Mouse, mouse, are you in the (colour) house?”. Check if they are right. If not, the game continues. Watch this video for better understanding. For older learners, the selection of colours should be wider.
More game ideas are ➡ here
Felt stories are relatively easy to make and are so much enjoyed by children. A considerable variety of tasks makes board stories a perfect tool for creative lessons with young learners.
Speaking activities are, obviously, essential for English language speaking classes. A lot of students join classes particularly to develop their communicative competence, become more fluent, versatile, adaptable, and confident communicators in English. However, designing speaking activities might be time-consuming and nerve-wracking for any teacher. We have prepared a memo with superb ready-made speaking tasks that will make your student talking. Download it here.