One of the really fun things I get to do at my library is update our Storytime Resource Packs, and create new ones. These Resource Packs are sets of materials on a theme. Our storytime providers can request them to help jumpstart their storytime planning and preparation. We include books, flannelboard pieces, activity ideas, and some puppets and props when we can.
As I help update the packs, I’ve started to add in what I call “Color and Counting Sets.” These are sets of laminated clip art flannelboard pieces–usually 36 pieces in 6 different colors. So for the Boats set, there are 6 blue boats, 6 red boats, etc. These sets can be used in a number of ways.
Here’s a few examples for the Boats set:
Choose 10 boats, and sing “10 Little Motorboats” to the tune of “Ten Little Indians” as you place them on the flannelboard.
Hand out one or more boats to each child. Then, tell them it’s time for all the blue boats to sail into the harbor. Have the children with the blue boats bring them to you. They can hand them to you or put them on the flannelboard. Repeat with the other colors.
If you like, before they sail into the harbor, you can play with them a little first! You can say, “Sail your boat on a quiet lake!” (Move your boat slowly and steadily straight across the air in front of you.) Or, “Sail your boat on big ocean waves!” (Move your boat up and down.)
For younger children, place three red boats in one corner of the flannelboard, three blue boats in another corner, three yellow boats in a third corner, and three green boats in the last corner. Put one red boat in with the blue boats, one blue boat in with the green boats, one green boat with the yellow boats, and one yellow boat in the red boats.
Tell the children that some of the boats are mixed up! “On no! There’s a blue boat with the green boats! Where is it?” Let them respond, then take the blue boat and say, “Where should the blue boat go? Let’s put the blue boat with the other blue boats. Where are they?” Put the blue boat with the other blue boats, and say, “Oh no! Which boat doesn’t match the blue boats? That’s right, the red boat! Where should the red boat go?” Repeat until all the boats are sorted out.
“Stay and Play”
If you have time for some free play after your storytime, show the children and their grown-ups how to make patterns with the boats. Let them play with the flannelboard and the whole set of pieces and make patterns out of the boat colors: Red, Blue, Red, Blue. Or Green, Orange, Orange, Green, Orange, Orange.
You can also pile all the boats up and let the children and their grownups count the boats, and sort them by color.
I love these sets because you can use them in different ways, and there’s no rhymes or stories to memorize or read from cue cards.
What else could you do with the Color and Counting Sets?
(Ed. 11/11: I am no longer sharing my clip art files due to copyright concerns, so I’ve taken down the link to these files. However, if you search in Microsoft Word clip art you may find the original files I started with. These sets are easy to make. I make them with Microsoft Word clip art, using “Edit Picture” to change the color of the original image, and copying and pasting until I have a set of six on each page. I print and laminate the images so they stand up to lots of handling and sorting!)