I spent the day interacting with children, parents and educators at Jozi’s Books and Blogs Festival on 28 July 2019. Wow! Was this interesting or what! An opening by Dr Elinor Sisulu with Fred Khumalo being recognised for his literary contributions; and the festivities began.
I had the privilege of telling a story using a felt board and theme. The twenty or so children who attended the session seemed to be riveted and a few of the parents sought me out afterwards to say how much they also enjoyed it! But….back to the story. One of the ways of using a felt board is to tell a story with the characters and then to ask the children to tell it back to you. This way, you can see if they remember what you have said. The older they get, the more they should remember. Not only is this a memory game, but it also helps with sequencing (getting things in the right order). When that is done, you can then ask the children to tell their own story using the same characters or using different ones. By being able to move the pieces around the board or off and back onto the board, you are helping with their fine motor skills too – bonus! Gentle questions can be added to the story such as “What colour is this flower?” or “What shape is the door on the house?”, to add yet more dimensions to this fun activity. And don’t forget the touchy-feely bit here – the characters are made of felt which may be an unusual sensation to your child.
Another way of telling a story with a felt board, is to use characters similar to ones they are already familiar with from a book you have been reading with your child. Get them to tell you the story to see how their memory is progressing. You will see that they can tell the story quite well and will probably change it in some way to suit their current view of the world, or in other words, to how they think the story should progress. This can give you an insight into how your child sees the world, if you pay attention.
So, hunker down and tell stories with a felt board and characters and help your child to develop the many skills they need to give them that head start at school.