Have you ever looked at an old flannel and really wanted to give it a makeover?
When I started doing storytimes, I made flannels willy nilly… but my idea of what makes a good flannel now differs drastically from when I first started out. This basic seashell set, where the only variation is color, just doesn’t work for me anymore:
Why not? Because variety is the spice of life! Adding variety to flannels leads to richer conversations and vocabulary. It allows for more diverse representation and more participation from all ages. In terms of visual discrimination, kids can recognize different types of objects long before they can recognize different colors. Recognizing colors isn’t even the most important early math skill!
I had grand plans for this flannel. I wanted to make all different kinds of seashells and talk about how the shells were the same and different. I wanted seashells with all kinds of patterns, some with stripes and some with spots and some with swirls. I wanted to hide something inside each different seashell to surprise the kids – a pearl, a crab, a snail, a fish…
I mean just look at this seashell identification chart! Aren’t you inspired? There’s so much more to life than the simple scallop!
Well, you know what they say about the best laid plans of mice and men. Instead of giving this flannel the ultimate makeover, I got diagnosed this year with a vestibular disorder and balance nerve damage. Suddenly making flannels wasn’t so fun anymore. It wasn’t even physically possible! For awhile my eyes couldn’t visually track well enough to cut felt. Focusing my eyes on anything exacerbated my already constant dizziness and nausea. Getting crafty just wasn’t an option.
What to do? My husband Jason came to the rescue, as he has so often this year. He helped me cut out three different sized pearls to hide inside the shells:
Little Shell, Little Shell
Green shell, green shell, what do you hide?
Do you have a pearl? Let’s look inside!
(repeat with other colors)
Voila! A mini math makeover! The kids enjoyed guessing where the pearls might be and peeking inside each shell. Just this small alteration led to more opportunities for math talk, such as…
- How many pearls did we find?
- How are they the same?
- How are they different?
- Which pearl is the biggest?
- Which pearl is the smallest?
We also learned that the most common pearl color is white, but that pearls can be found in almost every color!
It’s not a full-blown makeover, but it’s a little better than it was… and, as I’m learning lately, every little bit better matters!
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