Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Foolish birds!

Do you all know the story of Chicken Little? Do you remember it from your childhood? How did it end? Have you told it to your kids yet? How does that version end?

Yesterday I did a presentation for my Children's Literature class on folktales and fables about chickens. I went to my library and checked out over twenty books, four of which were Chicken Little. I was surprised to find that they have changed the ending and I sort of understand the logic but really what I think is they are ruining the message of the story. What message can be found if all the animals laugh off their idiocy? One person told me that having the animals get eaten was too violent. Too violent? Wait a minute, are those spiderman toys peeking out of your bag? Is that your four year old playing Star Wars? Yes, the animals get eaten but they are eaten as a result of their foolishness. They blindly follow a frantic chick who thinks the sky is falling. Did any of them look up to see for themselves?

Of course we want to protect our children and shield them from violence but look around folks. Billboards, commercials, conversations overheard in public...mainstream music even is full of violence, bad attitudes, neglect, hatred and sexuality. Fables of old served a purpose to bring forth a message or question of morals. Young children do know how to seperate some fantasy from reaity and they are intelligent enough to get the message. Just ask them some time. Only you know when your child is ready for such tales and only you know if they are capable of processing the fantasy of our more mainstream modern day stories. Take them to see Star Wars if you must but wouldn;t you rather read them a classic? Wouldn't you rather discuss with your kidlets their feelings on the story and wouldn't it be fun to create because of the story? When given the opportunity, our children can be quite creative.

This flannel board set I made for my presentation doesn't have to be used only for Chicken Little and it doesn't have to be used only by you. It is super easy to make and you can add other characters as you go. My board was made by covering apart of a recycled box with flannet that is pulled and stretched over the front and tacked to the back with thumbtacks. You can made a stand for the back or simply lean it against the wall or even mount it ot the wall in a place where your wee ones can reach it easily. My animals were made from felt which sticks easily to the flannel. The features were ironed on using fusible webbing but you can get fancier of course! If yer not so crafty, Find images from coloring books and such and trace or copy them onto cardstock. Back the paper with felt or flannel or add a small dot of scratchy velcro and they too will stick to the flannel. A flannel board can be used to tell favorite stories or your wee ones can use it to make up and act out their own stories and games. Dramatic play is a crucial element to any young child's development and using this device is a perfect way to have dramatic play everyday.

If your wee ones are quite wee, cut out a bunch of shapes for him or her to play with. The lesson of cause and effect will gently be absorbed as she feels her way through the materials. For even younger wee ones, a plastic mirror can be backed with velcro and placed at the bottom. This is perfect for your wee one to delight in his or her image and keep them entertained for a short while. Flannel is fun and there are so many ways you can utilize this tool, how are you going to do it?


  1. Cool felt board--and I agree with your thoughts on the importance of classic folktales and fables. Kids don't need or want to be patronized.

  2. I am so with you on the proper endings of the classics. My favorite is the Gingerbread Man who gets (shudder...) EATEN. Love your felt set! I am a former elementary school teacher whose children still use all the sets I made when I taught. Love your blog!

  3. Thank You!

    I remember relishing the tales when I was a tot. No harm done here. If anything it made me more cautious. The Gingerbread Man was awesome! Iish Ihad my original copy which I think was a large fromat Golden Book.