Did you know that flashcards are a fantastic resource for toddlers? They can support topic work, counting and matching skills, as well as developing a sight vocabulary. Here are a few of my favourite ways to use flashcards with an Easter theme!
This post may contain affiliate links. To read my policy, click here.
How do you get started with Flashcards?
Have you ever thought about using flashcards with your toddler but weren’t sure where to start? Well you are in luck! I have put together two sets of FREE and PRINTABLE flashcards just for you and I am going to show you exactly how to use them!
I love homemade resources and flashcards are one of the easiest to make. Obviously they will last longer if you have a laminator, but don’t worry if you haven’t got one to hand. You can still play all of these games with the paper versions! Or why not glue the paper flashcards to pieces of cardboard to make them sturdier? However you make your flashcards, your toddler will love playing with them! Keep reading to find out how to play and remember to grab your FREE flashcards here.
Easter Word Rescue
Flashcards are great fun for matching, sorting, labelling and counting. But why not make your activity even more exciting by adding some sensory materials into the mix? This Rainbow Rice from the Happy Hooligans website is easy to make and great fun to use. All you need is rice, white vinegar and gel food colouring. You can leave the colours to dry separately and make a rainbow of individual rice batches. We chose to mix the colours all together to make Easter Egg Rice. It was perfect for playing Easter Word Rescue!
To make the Easter Word Rescue activity, bury your flashcards beneath the rice and ask your toddler to find each card by digging and scooping the rice out of the way. When they find a card, encourage them to drop it into a separate bowl or basket so they can start looking for the next one. Remember to include utensils and other baskets, cups or trays to encourage scooping and sharing. Joseph loved this game! I demonstrated how to hide and find the cards first. Then we read each word out loud and described the picture on the card as we found them. After that Joseph was excited to find the rest of the words by himself!
Why use flashcards?
You can bury any kind of toy or object to encourage fine motor skill development, but using the Easter flashcards adds an extra opportunity to talk about Easter, animals and Spring time. The written words will also help to develop your toddler’s understanding of language and build up their ‘sight vocabulary’ .
What is a sight vocabulary?
A sight vocabulary is a collection of words we can read just by looking at the whole word. It is a stage of reading we go through at a young age and can be very effective. It is normal for toddlers to recognise familiar words and pictures in their environment without explicit teaching. For example, how many toddlers do you know who can recognise the golden ‘M’ sign for McDonalds? A sight vocabulary is built up using the same skills. We memorise whole words that we see on a regular basis.
Later on, when we learn to read independently and want to tackle harder words, phonics and ‘sounding out’ strategies become important. But for toddlers, learning to recognise their name and other every day ‘whole words’ will be really beneficial to their language development and their confidence.
Matching & Sorting
We can also use flashcards for matching and sorting games. When toddlers look through a pile of toys for something specific, they are actually using complex cognitive skills. They have to keep in mind the specific set of visual attributes for their chosen object, while also assessing the other objects in front of them against a range of criteria. They need to be able to disregard the objects which don’t match, even if they match all of the criteria but one! These are skills we use every single day as adults so it can be easy to take it for granted. But rest assured this a complex ability which our toddlers work hard to master!
So how do I set up an appropriate matching activity?
Make sure you start out with only one criteria to look for. If you are playing with coloured blocks, make sure you only talk about colour to begin with. Don’t confuse your toddler by suddenly classifying the blocks based on shape too! It is actually better to be confident in one concept before introducing another. For example when teaching the idea of ‘opposites’, it is better to start with ‘cold’ and ‘not cold’ before introducing ‘hot’.
Sorting with animal flashcards
In the photo above, you can see we have started off simple. Sorting rabbits from ducks. But later on, when Joseph has got the hang of this task, I could introduce a different species of bird or even a different type of duck! Alternatively, I could introduce more variants of animal so that we are separating based on extra categories, rather than more complex criteria. The Animal Flashcards Game I have made is perfect for this activity. I have included ducks, rabbits, chicks and piglets!
Singing & counting
These Animal Flashcards were actually made for a specific game – the Easter Glove Game! You can read all about it here. I learnt to use exfoliating bath gloves as a sensory toy when Joseph was just 5 weeks old. We attended baby massage classes with Little Miracle Massage and loved it! The lovely class leader Sally used the gloves to keep the babies engaged while singing nursery rhymes. To make the game, simply attach velcro to the back of your flashcards and voila! They will stick to the bath gloves no problem! You can pick up exfoliating gloves in most supermarkets and I also bought a pack of 500 velcro dots from Amazon.
So how do I use the gloves for Singing & Counting?
We use the gloves as a prop during nursery rhymes. For example, Joseph loves singing ‘Sleeping Bunnies’. We can lay the glove down and ‘shh’ them while the rabbits sleep, then we can shout ‘wake up!’ and make the rabbits ‘hop, hop, hop!’. We have also enjoyed singing ‘Five Little Ducks’ and a very special nursery rhyme I made up this week just for Easter which you can find here.
The ‘Five Little Ducks’ nursery rhyme is a great example of counting. At each verse, we can stop and count the ducks that are left on the glove. Your toddler can then help to pull off each duck when they swim away. You may also enjoy counting the duck flashcards onto each finger at the beginning and end of the song too. The texture and colour of the glove make it exciting to explore. You can also use these detachable flashcards to make traditional counting games like ‘This Little Piggy’ even more special.
Can I use the flashcards for singing and counting without the glove?
Of course, you can always use the flashcards for singing and counting without the glove. Why not count them into a bowl? Or hang the cards up on a washing line with pegs? There are so many ways to incorporate flashcards into your usual activities to make them fresh and exciting!
ANIMALS & BABIES
The Easter Flashcards also have an extra special concept for older toddlers to play with – relationships! The flashcards include three Spring animals and their babies. This means that your older toddler can try using their matching skills for more complicated criteria.
You can offer an activity like the one photographed above, where the parent animal is on the plate and your toddler has to match the baby animal to their parent or vice versa. This is quite simple and can be made more complicated by mixing all of the animals together in one place. So they have to be searched through and then paired up. You could also offer a sorting activity. Put all of the animals into the middle and ask your toddler to sort the parent animals to one side and the baby animals to the other.
Why are relationships important?
Understanding the relationships between objects, animals and people are important. For example, toddlers have to learn who is in their family and who is a friend or stranger. They will need to learn who the pupils and the teachers at nursery are and which rules apply to each group. They will also need to learn relationships between objects and their place in the world, like which tools we might use in the kitchen or in the garden. So why not give your toddler a helping hand and start off simple, with these FREE Easter Flashcards now.
So how will you play?
I hope you have enjoyed these ideas for how to play with flashcards. If you haven’t grabbed your FREE flashcards yet, just use the forms below to get started! Let me know how you decide to play and tag me in your photos! You can see more of my play ideas by searching @athomewithmrsblake on Instagram.