Since beginning ABCJLM in 2008, I desired to add flannelgraph as a technique to teach Bible stories. Two years later, this dream came true when I was introduced to Betty Lukens' Through the Bible in Felt sets and book! I believe flannelgraph is still one of the best ways to teach Bible stories - when done well. Because of this, in each lesson plan you will see page numbers associated to the Through the Bible in Felt (Teacher's Manual). On the specific page of the Teacher Manual, the Bible story as well as a list of the needed flannelgraph scenes, characters, and props are listed to help you tell the story.
The use of flannelgraph is not new. My Grandma remarkably used this technique in Sunday School 70 years ago. By using flannelgraph scenes, characters, and props, the child(ren) are given a visual picture of the story as the Bible story is told to them. When you allow the child to help place the flannelgraph items on the board, they are actively involved in the story. If you allow the child to tell the story using the props, learning has been taken to the very highest level. All of this helps children retain the learning.
How Do I Teach a Story Using Flannelgraph?
In using a flannelgraph board or props, follow the same three steps that you would for teaching a child a new concept. On the first day, tell the child the story using the flannelgraph or props yourself. The next time allow the child to assist with the props as you tell the story. By the end of the week, the child should be able to tell the basic plot of the story by themselves.
So...in a week, introduce the story on Monday. Leave the props out in an area where the child can play with them. On Tuesday, allow the child to assist you with the props as you tell the story. On Wednesday, let the child interject main points into the story – maybe peoples’ names or places or emotions. Continue until on Friday the child can tell the story on their own to someone else or put on a play for their stuffed animals or dolls.
What are Specific Items that I need to Remember when Telling a Story?
1. Be prepared. If you are not prepared, this will not be successful. You may need to practice a couple times before telling the story to children.
2. Before Bible time, collect the flannel board, scenes, characters, and props needs.
3. In a stack, lay the characters and figures in order so that you can easily pick up what is needed next as you tell the story.
4. Before beginning, place the background scenes on the flannel board.
5. Use the figures and props to aid in telling the story, not take over the plot.
Here is an example given in the Teacher's Manual:
Wrong: "Now, this is Noah. See his long beard and his very beautiful robe!..."
Correct: [As figure of Noah is placed on the board] "Noah did just as God told him to do. Every day he preached to the people [as figures of people are added] ...
6. With younger children less is sometimes more. The short attention span of young children be not be able to handle all of the details. You may be able to add an extra figure each time/day you tell the story.
Here is an example: On Monday show Jesus and the little lost lamb. On Tues. have Jesus, the lamb, and add the 99 he left behind to hunt for the one, etc.
7. Don't stand in front of the flannel board.
8. Placement of characters is very important. Make sure that people are "grounded" (not floating in the air) and children don't appear to be taller than adults.
9. My Grandma never told a Bible story to children without the Bible in her lap. I would suggest having the Bible open and if you need the manual, lay it on top of the Bible. It is important for little ones to realize you aren't just telling them a story but it is from God's word.
10. Relax and have fun. Children are very forgiving!
Some suggestions taken from the Teacher's Manual. Thank you Aunt C for other great ideas.
Why the Betty Lukens sets?
After viewing the Betty Lukens set, I was thrilled with the clarity and realness of each figure and object. My children immediately picked out the different Bible stories just by looking at the pictures. The felt is thick and the colors are vivid. I am very impressed with the quality of the pictures and stories in the Teacher's Manual. In using the ABCJLM curriculum, I suggest the Deluxe Set as they contain all but one of the Bible stories in the ABCJLM curriculum. The Small Deluxe Bible Set (6 1/2" figurines) is perfect for a family. The Large Deluxe Bible Set (12" figurines) is wonderful for a large group of children as the characters are much larger.
But the cost?
I do realize that the Deluxe Set are expensive. Thus, adding the flannelgraph to the ABCJLM curriculum is a suggestion not a must. With that said, if you are looking at homeschooling, running a preschool, or working in a church setting for any length of time, I believe you will find your purchase worthwhile. (And from what I hear from several of you, it was a worthwhile investment.) But, if you find yourself jumping between ideas in teaching your children, then I would start off with a small set and check to see how much you use it before diving in.
Where to Purchase?
Betty Lukens has given ABCJLM users a 20% discount on all products purchased on their website!!!
Using Flannelgraph on a Budget
Purchasing flannelgraph sets can be very expensive. But there are ways to create your own! Read more...
Using Flannelgraph to Tell the Story of Creation - Read more...
Using Flannelgraph to Tell the Wordless Book - Read more...
Here are two videos of our children telling a Bible story using the Introduce/Recognize/Identify teaching method and the Betty Lukens Flannelgraph.