This past week, I observed a wonderful 30-year preschool teacher tell a story with her young 3s using a felt board.  Can you tell from the picture below what the story was?

It may be hard to see so I will give you some hints.

There are 2 cookies, a glass of milk, a refrigerator, a straw, a mirror, a book, and a pencil (there are a few more).  Using these clues, can you tell that this is the story called If You Give a Mouse a Cookie?

This teacher did such a lovely job telling this story and including each child.  She knew the story by heart and each time the mouse needed something new, a child would come and find the felt board piece and add it to the board.

These children were in their second week of preschool and they did an awesome job taking turns, finding the pieces and getting them to stick to the board. For a first felt board experience, this was really nice.

One of the great things about the Laura Numeroff books (there are several that are similarly themed) is that they incorporate, cause and effect, if-then statements, and predictive sequencing. During this telling of the story, the teacher did not focus on these obvious elements as she was clearly just beginning to work with these newcomers, and her goal for the moment was that they participate, listen and enjoy.

However, once the children become accustomed to the activity and become wholly familiar with the design of these stories, it is important that the children put the pieces of the story on the board in order so they can tell and retell it themselves.  I appreciate the hand-made pieces (they were beautiful) but I would have also included a felt mouse, since all of the action happens around him.  A felt mouse could also be included in the telling which might make the felt board version more coherent for the children.

Imagine laying out each piece in order (a cookie, a glass of milk, a straw, and so on) and then have the mouse mover through the sequence.  Rather than having the children put the pieces on the board, they could come up and take them off.  Once the mouse eat the cookie, he want some milk.  In order to drink the milk, he needs a straw, etc., until the mouse comes full circle and ends up back to the cookie.

The mathematical elements of these books are outstanding.  Prediction and sequencing are the most appropriate for the preschool classroom and can be incorporated into any associated activity you do with your children.