How to Make a Flannelgraph

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Flannelgraphs, also known as "felt boards," are an effective and engaging way to tell stories and teach basic concepts. Use these steps to create your own board, along with several useful interactive shapes.

Things You'll Need

  • Stretched canvas, plywood or matboard
  • Flannel or felt
  • Adhesives
  • Scissors
  • Cardstock
  • Stencils, cookie cutters or coloring books
  • Pens
  • Embellishments
  • Clipart
  • Easel
  • Buy a stretched painter's canvas, piece of plywood or thick matboard to serve as the base of the flannelgraph. Choose a size large enough to accommodate several shapes-18 by 24 inches are often-used dimensions.

  • Cover the board with flannel (fuzzy side up) or felt. Use spray adhesive to attach the fabric to the surface, then pull the edges taut and secure them in back with additional adhesive, staples or hot glue. Black, white, beige and blue are popular colors since they allow most flannel figures to stand out.

  • Decide on a theme to create your first set of flannel shapes. Some teachers and parents use flannelgraphs to tell nursery rhymes or discuss facts about farms, aquariums, modes of transportation or daily household chores. The boards are also helpful for teaching counting, math, spelling and phonics lessons.

  • Use sharp scissors to cut shapes out of flannel (or felt if you've backed the board with felt), fuzzy side down so they'll stick to the board. You can also make shapes from cardstock and mount them onto felt with spray adhesive before trimming. Use stencils, cookie cutters or images traced from coloring books to design your shapes.

  • Add detail to plain shapes with layering. Simply cut several of the same shape in different colors of flannel, then cut them apart and reassemble in layers like a paper doll. Try doodling with fabric paint pens or adding embellishments like sequins, tiny buttons or paper flowers with glue or stitching.

  • Create more detailed figures by printing clipart from the Internet onto cardstock. You can then adhere the images to flannel and trim them. (See Resources)

  • Place the completed flannelgraph on a painter's easel so the entire class can watch and participate in the story or lesson. Sitting the board at a slight angle will also help the figures adhere to the backdrop.

Tips & Warnings

  • Order pre-printed flannel shapes on the Internet if you're short on time. (See Resources)
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