Kindergarten Readiness: New Ways to Use ABC Flashcards
Getting Flashy With Flashcards
Using flashcards to drill and practice the letters of the alphabet is boring and ineffective. Preschoolers and kindergarteners learn best when they are participating both mentally and physically. Combining a hands-on approach and fun activities will lead to effortless learning. As a bonus, you will get the pleasure of spending time teaching your child in a relaxed, enjoyable manner. So say good-bye to the old "drill and kill" and put some FLASH into flashcards!
*SORT THROUGH IT
You decide how the letters will be sorted. There are lots of possibilities. You may choose to sort capital vs. lowercase, letters with curves vs. letters with straight lines, letters in your child's name vs. letters not in your child's name, Etc. I like to put a post-it with a visual reminder above each of the piles your child will sort into. For example, if you are sorting curved letters and straight line letters, put a curvy line on one post-it and a straight line on another. Together, go through the stack of flashcards and decide which pile each letter goes into. Reinforce the letter name by asking, "Which pile does 'A' go in?" Being able to sort by a physical attribute is also an important math skill for preschoolers and kindergarteners. I love it when I can combine multiple skills into an activity!
Before you begin going through the stack of letter cards, choose a key letter and show it to your child. Bury that letter close to the beginning of the pile. Instruct your child that when the key letter comes up he/she must do a certain action like clapping, jumping up and down, spinning around, or whatever other silly action you two can come up with. Once that letter comes up, choose another key letter and action. If you want to combine a little counting, have your child do the chosen activity ten times while counting to ten.
*MAKE YOUR OWN
I made two different sets. I made a large set in which each letter is on a 9 X 12 piece of construction paper. I wrote the letter, and together we covered it with something that starts with that letter. For example, I made a large bubble letter 'A' and we cut pictures from magazines and printed pictures from the internet of animals, then we glued them inside the 'A'. We used some animal stickers also. Fashioning three zippers into the shape of the letter 'Z' is much more memorable than looking at a store bought flashcard! I also made a smaller set using 4 X 6 index cards. I wrote the letter at the bottom. First, I drew the three lines that are standard on primary writing paper. I used a blue marker for the top and bottom lines and a red marker for the dotted middle line. I wrote the letter in orange (because that is my son's favorite color). Any three color combination is fine. It is important to write the letter using the lines for the next activity. Together you will choose a picture for the top of the card. We used as many family pictures as we could. For instance, 'D' is for daddy, 'G' is for grandma, 'J' is for Jake (our dog), Etc. Using the names of family and friends helps make the cards more meaningful to your child. After working so hard to make your own flashcards, you may want to have them laminated at your local office supply store.
For this activity you will need flashcards with letters shown on standard primary writing paper lines. The cards you two just made will work perfectly. As you go through the stack of letters, your child will reach up to the sky for tall letters (those that go top line to bottom line). He/she will put his/her hands on hips for short letters (those that go from middle to bottom line) and touch the floor for hang down letters (those few that hang below the bottom line like 'j' and 'y'). Don't forget to have your little one say the letter name as he/she performs the action.
*WHAT'S YOUR SIGN?
As you go through the flashcards, you and your child can do the American Sign Language alphabet sign for each letter. Check out the alphabet slide show on http://asl.ms/ if you are unfamiliar, like I was, with sign language.
This game takes no preparation. Simply turn your flashcards over and try to match the capital with its lowercase mate. You and your child will take turns flipping over two cards at a time. If they are a match, you keep the cards and get another turn. If they do not match, turn them back over an it is the other player's turn. For younger players, you will want to use fewer cards. Pick out 5-10 matches from the flashcards to play with. As your child becomes more proficient, you can add more cards.
Remember that having fun and enjoying each other is the most important thing. If your child tires of an activity, stop. I try to keep any activity for this age at 20-30 minutes, max. When the two of you are having fun, the most learning occurs.