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10 Ways to Use Flashcards in Play That Don’t Suck

Okay, so you’ve got a fab set of flashcards, but you have absolutely no idea how to incorporate them into you and your child’s play. Well, I'm here to let you know that gone are the days of “What’s this picture? Correct. What’s this word? Wrong.” Flashcards can be a fab resource to use with children and here are ten easy ways to use flashcards that are exciting, engaging and educational for your small people.

Scavenger Hunt

One of my favourite ways to use flashcards is as a series of prompts for a scavenger hunt. Say for example you have a set of First Words cards, with no preparation at all, those cards can immediately become a scavenger hunt as you send your child searching for the “ball”, “sock” or “cup” on the card.

Another way to use cards for a scavenger hunt is to ask your little one to find something, or as many things as they can, that begin/s with the same sound, or is the same colour.

Oh, Snap!

Whilst your child may not be up to challenging you to game of Poker, they will enjoy a simple game of Snap. You’ll need two (or more) sets of the same pack of cards and then you, and your little one, can match away to your hearts’ content. Depending on the age of your child, you can ‘snap’ like for like, or spot cards that are the same colour/species/begin with the same letter.

Counting Cards

A nice way to practice fine motor skills and early counting is to use number flashcards in conjunction with pegs, or playdough, or chickpeas. Simply match the number on the card with the same amount of pegs/dough/peas!

How Puzzling...

With a minimum of preparation, two sets of the same cards can easily become a three-part puzzle, all you have to do is look for image+word cards that have the picture separated from the text.

On one set of cards, cut the word on each card away from the picture. Voila! You have a puzzle in which your child can match the word to the picture, and then find the matching ‘whole’ card to pair it with.

Real World Matching

Taking your flashcards out and about with you can be a brilliant way to help children make the connections between an image, or a word, and the real-life thing. So, take your flower cards into the garden, take that pack on British Birds with you into the forest and bring your ‘Animals’ deck with you to the zoo!

Chalk It Up

All you’ll need for this play is a set of flashcards and some chalk.

For each flashcard, draw (on a pavement/driveway/in your back garden) a box, and inside that a correlating picture or word. Then use the flashcards to call out which box your child needs to run to/stand-in.

You could even add in some different movement skills too; for instance, if you had animal flashcards, you could say: “Waddle to Duck! Slither to Snake!”, or you could make a flashcard-inspired hopscotch grid.

It’s a Small World After All

Using flashcards alongside Small World play, particularly if the cards depict real-life images/photography (as opposed to cartoon-style imagery) is a great way of teaching your child the names of things, and for helping them to connect the dots in their understanding of the world in which they live.

Can You Spell...

One of my daughter’s favourite ways to use flashcards is as a spelling prompt. She’ll dig out her alphabet stones (we like the Yellow Door jumbo pebbles, but you could even make your own) and use them to spell out the word on the card. This is a lovely way to introduce early to your child the concept of sounds and sound blending and is easily adaptable for different age groups and abilities.

Matchy, Matchy

Using two sets of the same cards you can play this easy matching memory game.

Lay the cards out and turn them over so that the words/pictures are face down.

Let your little one turn a card over and place it face up. Then ask them to do the same with the other card. If the pair is a match, they can keep the cards face up, if not, they have to turn them back over!

The aim of the game is for your child to see if they can remember where the cards are and pair them up accordingly.

Sensory Base Dig

Hiding your flashcards in a sensory base can be a fun way for your child to discover the words and images they use and to really differentiate one from another, particularly if they depict similar-looking things.

As with the flashcard puzzle idea above, cutting the word/s away from the picture adds another layer of difficulty to this.

And that’s it! Which way will you play?

As always, do let us see your fab play ideas, you can tag us on Instagram @catkintoys or play along with our play hashtag #catkinplay

See you next weekend!


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