For preschool classes using the He Established a Testimony or He Has Spoken by His Son curricula, we recommend using felt visuals with a flannel board for the presentation of the Bible lesson. One source of these visuals is through Betty Lukens.
With young children, it is very important to use visuals to hold their attention and help them visualize things that are unfamiliar. For example, showing a picture or felt figures of Abram on a camel in a caravan will help children understand the unusual mode of transportation and the barren conditions of the slow journey Abram faced.
Tips for Teaching with a Flannelgraph
Less is more when using a flannelgraph. Sometimes spiritual truths can get lost in the busyness of illustrating the story. For example, using enough male figures to show all of Joseph’s brothers takes more time than their role warrants. A single group of men can represent the “brothers,” even if it only shows a few. You may discover that you cannot show Pharaoh’s chariots following Israel into the Red Sea because the chariot faces the wrong direction and is four inches taller than the parted walls of water. But, you can use the chariot piece to show what a chariot is.
While teaching, be sure children know the story is coming from the Bible. Keep your Bible open in front of you while teaching and read verses directly from your Bible where appropriate as you tell the story.
Before class, it is helpful to stack the felt pieces in the order that you will use them and set up your background. Start out simply by just putting key figures on the board, or moving a figure from one spot to another to demonstrate movement. The short attention span of a preschooler is better filled with God-themes than a technically precise depiction of everything that happened in a story.
The manual that comes with the Betty Lukens flannelgraph set is helpful in finding and choosing the felt pieces that fit particular Bible stories. Detailed information about preparing to teach the preschool lessons is included in He Established a Testimony and He Has Spoken by His Son. We do no recommend teaching the Bible stories from the Betty Lukens manual.
Flannel board and felt pieces can be very versatile and customizable to the story. Betty Lukens pieces are available in two sizes. The 6-inch size is easier to use and works well with small groups of children. But, if you have a large group of children, the 12-inch size is easier for the children to see. Having an interior and exterior board is very helpful, but you can substitute the dark, plain board (intended for night sky scenes) with a dark flannel cloth placed over another board.
Betty Lukens offers a filing system for the pieces that is well worth the price. If you are new to using the flannelgraph, take the time to browse the filing system so you have in mind the range of pieces available. The felt pieces will arrive printed on sheets that need to be cut out. Recruit some help to cut out all the pieces and file them before the year starts; your weekly preparation time is better spent studying the Word than cutting out pieces. The Deluxe Bible Set is best to accompany the full, chronological Bible overview found in the Children Desiring God preschool curriculum.
To learn more about teaching preschoolers and see an example lesson being taught with using the flannelgraph, we recommend watching the Preschool Lesson Preparation and Preschool Teaching and Small Group Leading seminars.
Alternative Preschool Visual Options
For some situations, flannelgraph may not be practical or within your budget. Here are some other options to use when teaching the preschool lessons:
- New Tribes Missions: They provide a variety of Bible pictures, maps and charts and coloring pictures to supplement your teaching. We recommend considering their chronological Bible picture sets which are available in a variety of print options or electronically.
- Free Bible Images: These downloadable photos and illustrations that you can print out are a free starting point, but they will not cover all of the stories in the preschool lessons.
- Clip and Tell or Snip and Tell: Captivate children with simple paper cutouts that unfold as the story is told.