Who knew when I started reading salon.com’s new column ‘Object Lust’ that I would fall victim to this deadly sin? Who could have predicted that the object of my attraction would be a flannel board?
Of course, it isn’t just any flannel board: it is Betty Luken’s Through the Bible in Felt, complete with over 600 pieces, many different backgrounds, overlays, scenery, and a guide to telling stories. I really do love this thing; I’ve been trying to figure out why.
I want my children to know and love the scriptures. I don’t think they will know them (not at ages 4 and 7, anyway) if we just read the KJV to them. But we’ve had some sweet experiences when we’ve done a flannel board story and then let the then-three-year-old retell the story. It’s clear that he knows it. (Not that he’s lost his sense of humor: we’re always dealing with minor catastophes like Jonah’s whale eating the tablets with the Ten Commandments on them.)
And I’m fairly well convinced that they won’t love the scriptures if their only exposure is the KJV. We subscribe to an educational philosophy around here that, in a nutshell, promotes the idea that elementary age students should be told stories, middle grade students should learn the relationships between stories, and high school age students should articulately express their opinions about stories. I love telling my children these stories, in a way that encourages them to know them. Really know them– and not just Noah, Jonah, and Daniel, either. With over 600 pieces, we can tell any story–even the ones Betty Lukens herself probably never thought about, like the daughters of Zelophehad.
I love the scriptures; the stories feel like old friends. I love introducing my children to these old friends for the first time. I like knowing that their “Hello . . . How do you do?” introduction from the flannel board is setting the stage for them to someday be familiar enough to ask these friends forehead-crinkling questions.
I’m also enamored of this particular set because, while its bright colors might not earn high marks for historical verisimilitude, it suggests something that I want to teach my children: that the scriptures, and the stories in them, are, in fact, bright, vibrant, engaging–gripping, even.
There’s also something about the set–stay with me here–that speaks to me. For example, there’s only one really old man, so he becomes Noah, Moses, Methuselah, Zacharias, etc. There’s (thankfully) plenty of female figures, but you’d probably still use the same piece for Deborah as you do for Ruth. There’s something here about the universality of figures that invites you to see each figure in the story as representative, which in turn opens the way for you to invite yourself in to be that person.
There’s practical attraction here, too: about 200 FHE lessons that I don’t have to plan or think about–just tell the story and, with my husband, adlib a discussion of the moral lesson involved.
I really like this thing.
(Note: If I have incited object lust in you, might I recommend that you get a used set from ebay? That’s what I did, and while I didn’t necessarily save any money, I didn’t have to cut all of those pieces out, either.)