How To: Use Flip Charts

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I love flip charts!  I think that pictures are an effective way to reinforce messages which can sometimes be difficult for small children to understand.  And for older children, they are a great way to remind them of the lines of a song without undermining the effort to memorize.  Unfortunately, it’s easy to fall into the trap of using flip charts as a crutch.  To avoid that, I suggest the following:

  • If you use my flip charts, supplement with pictures from the Gospel Art Book.  This will help the children understand that the people and events we are singing about are real.  It will also help them draw connections with other times they have seen those same pictures and the stories they associate with them.
  • Don’t print the lyrics on all of your flip charts.  If you’re only planning to sing the song a couple of times, it’s helpful.  But don’t print words on the songs you want them to remember.
  • Don’t use them every week!  I often use flip charts the first week I teach a song and then I file them away and don’t take them out unless we need to review.  If you want to see the handy way I store and use my flip charts for the year, you can watch the video here.
  • Don’t use a flip chart every time you learn a new song.  Children learn in different ways and some children won’t benefit from seeing pictures.  Try teaching with actions, movements or sign language.  Use props.  Tell a story.  Show a video.  Do some pitch leading or dynamics.  Shake it up!
  • Don’t use the flip chart the same way every time!  There is nothing less exciting than watching a chorister stand in front of you, turning pages :).  Try some of these variations on the basic formula for teaching a new song:
    • Post the pictures around the outside edge of the board in the front of the room.  As you learn each line, ask the children to help you decide which picture best fits the line.  Point in a slow circle around the board and ask the children to raise their hands when you are pointing at the picture they think fits.
    • Post the pictures around the entire room.  As you learn each line, ask one child to find and bring you the picture that fits.
    • Or hide the pictures under the children’s chairs.  Ask the children to tell you when they think they have the picture that you are describing in the lyrics.
    • Divide the Primary into groups.  Give each group a picture.  Sing the song several times and ask them to stand when they think you are singing their lyrics.
    • Divide the Primary into groups.  Give each group a slip of paper with one of the lyrics printed on it.  Ask them to draw a picture to go with those words.
    • Give each page of the flip chart to a different child.  Have them all stand in front of the room and see if they can put the pictures in order as you sing or learn the song.
    • Shuffle the pictures.  Give each class a turn to try to put the pictures in order by the time you have finished singing the song.  
    • Or print smaller versions of the flip charts and give one to each class.  Have them all try to put the pictures in order as you learn the song.  At the end of the song, show them the correct order and see if they have gotten it right.
    • Make the flip chart pictures into a simple puzzle.  Print the lyrics on the back.  Randomly choose a picture to have the children place onto the puzzle board.  Teach them that line.  Go through the song, singing the lines you know and humming the lines you don’t know yet.
    • Teach the song by posting all of the flip chart pages on the board at the front of the room.  Once the children have learned the song, take the pictures away one by one.
    • Write the lyrics or one key word from each line on the blackboard.  Teach the children the song.  One by one, cover the key words with a picture.  See if the children can remember the lyrics.
    • Make the flip chart into a coloring book and have the children color it while the pianist plays the melody.  Then teach the song and let the children follow along in their own books.

Any more ideas?  Please share with us!