As a former elementary school teacher with a Master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction, I am SO EXCITED to share with you the resources that I have created to teach my own five children their ABCs! Learning the ABCs is the FOUNDATION for learning how to read, and when we start teaching letter names and letter sounds (this is known as phonemic awareness) to your child (in addition creating a language rich environment), it makes learning how to read so easy and so fun that children will seem to do so as if by magic.
What Makes My Flashcards Different
There are many different features that set my flashcards apart from anything else I have been able to find on the market. When I was a 3rd and 4th grade teacher, I found that many students with reading difficulties lacked phonemic awareness (the ability to distinguish and identify all of the letter sounds). As a parent, I wanted to create something that would accurately teach my children the letter names and sounds giving them a strong foundation for learning how to read. These are the features that make my flashcards unique.
- They have both the upper and lower case letters on each card. This is so children can learn that they mean the same thing simultaneously.
- Letters are shaped how we print them. I created my own font and made sure each letter was formed the way we teach children how to print them.
- Each flashcard has a simple, interesting, and easily identifiable picture. Many flashcards use words like “ape” for “a” where kids might get confused thinking it was a monkey. I also try to keep the images related to things children would be familiar with.
- The letter and sound combination makes sense. When flashcards use the word “eye” to teach the letter “e” or the word “shoe” (which has a digraph) to teach “s”, it can be very confusing for children. My flashcards do not do this.
- Short vowels and the hard g and c are used. When children are just starting to learn their letters, these are the easiest versions to begin with, and it’s best to keep things as simple as possible in the beginning.
- There is a printed word below each picture. I have found that it’s important for children to learn that letters come together to form words and that words have meaning. When children memorize the shape of the letters, the image, and a word it really solidifies their understanding of the alphabet.
I recommend printing on cardstock, cutting into individual flashcards, rounding the corners, laminating (I like this laminate.), rounding the corners again (leave a 1/8″ border of laminate so it won’t peel), placing two holes in the top corners, and attaching one inch rings for easy use. (Visit my FREE READING RESOURCES page for many more free flashcard downloads.)
Download here: ABC Horizontal Flashcards
ABCs Linear Poster
I like using this square style to create a linear poster so children can see all of the letters in order. To do this, I recommend trimming the edges after you print on cardstock, cutting in half horizontally, laminating (leave a 1/8″ border of laminate so it won’t peel), taping together (on the back), and putting somewhere right at your child’s eye level.
Download here: ABCs Linear Poster
These make a great baby shower gift or you can enjoy coloring them with your child to create a personalized set.
Download here: ABC Black and White Flashcards
Because I use the same flashcards in my video that you can print out and use with your child, it REALLY helps with repetition and consistency. I use video clips of my own children along with some stock footage to help children really understand what each word means. Not only does this help with the alphabet but with vocabulary too! You won’t find anything else out there this real, authentic, and engaging for children. At the end of the video, my children sing the ABC song which is a very big part of learning the alphabet.
Android Alphabet Explorer App
My husband brought my ABC Video to life in a new format. Children can click on a menu featuring each letter of the alphabet to see its letter chant, images, and video. They can also go directly to the ABC songs. This is for Android devices only. Get the Alphabet Explorer App here.
Flashcards are nice, but sometimes the aspect of a book can be more durable and easier to use. In order to make this book, you’ll need to have a long arm stapler.
Download here: ABC Printable Book
How to Make My ABC Book
- Print – Select “Print on Both Sides” and “Flip sheets on short edge” to print. Print on premium paper.
- Cut – Cut in half horizontally on the dotted line.
- Assemble – Put the top half that you cut on top of the bottom half.
- Staple – Use a long arm stapler to staple three times on top of the dark dashes.
- Fold – I find it’s best to fold and crease each page open so that it will stay open when you lay it flat.
If you’re looking for something small and all together, this alphabet poster will fit on a single page and can be easily laminated and used as a mini poster or you can take it to a print shop and have it enlarged to a large poster.
Download here: ABC Flashcard Poster
Download here: ABC Black and White Flashcard Poster
Teaching Babies and Toddlers
Babies’ brains starts to explode with neural growth between 6-8 months. (Read more about children’s brain development here…it’s fascinating stuff!) This is the IDEAL time to start teaching them new things that will help them to connect with their world. Neural growth continues rapidly until the age of 2-3 when synaptic pruning starts happening (a use it or lose it occurrence where the pathways children use are strengthened and the pathways they don’t use wither away).
*You may not start teaching the alphabet until your child is 12-18 months or even 2, 3, or 4 years of age, and that’s okay! You may have to spend more time working on it if your child is older, but it’s never too late to start.
- A little bit over a long period of time is best. I have started introducing the ABCs to all of my children somewhere between 6-10 months depending on their personalities and interests. By starting this young, I don’t have to think about trying to teach them every day, just little bits here and there when the timing is right.
- Keep flashcards accessible. I like to prop up the flashcards and leave them laying around. Because they are so familiar, my children love finding them and flipping through them independently. My older ones also love teaching my younger ones. (I also have other ABC toys and activities stashed just about everywhere throughout the house so that my children are completely immersed in it.)
- Repetition is key. The pathways between neurons is covered with a myelin sheath. Every time children learn the same thing, this myelin sheath gets thicker and thicker which increases the speed. After about 40 repetitions, the knowledge becomes automatic and it is committed to long term memory.
- Use during routines. When my babies start to eat solid food, I like to show my ABC Video. I also like to show them the flashcards when they are slightly sleepy and want to cuddle on my lap.
- Make it full of love. Make sure you are introducing the flashcards and video in way that is full of cuddles and joy so there are positive associations.
- Slowly build stamina. When you first start showing children these flashcards and video, they won’t be interested because it is something NEW, but once they have seen them both several times and start to recognize them, you will be delighted to see their eyes light up and their bodies dance in recognition. When you first get started, you may only get through the first few letters, or you may just play the video in the background without much interest. But rest assured that slowly over time, your baby will love flipping through all of the flashcards and enjoy the whole video from beginning to end!
- Say the ABC chant. In my ABC Video, you’ll hear me say a little chant, “A is for apple, /ah/, /ah/, apple, B is for ball, /buh/, /buh/, ball…” My children always love it when I do the same chant when reading the flashcards.
- Allow wait time. Once we’ve gone through the flashcards enough for them to know a few of the letter names, sounds, or object names (which may take 6 months or so), I will say, “What’s that?” and pause. I also like to pause and wait while singing the alphabet to give them time to say the letters.
- Praise right answers. When my children are first learning their letters, I praise them for saying the letter name, sound, or word associated with the letter. Keep in mind that as children are just starting to form sounds and words, they may only say the beginning sound of a word or letter. Listen for these sounds and words so that you can model the correct way of saying it. If they are interested, really slow down and exaggerate your mouth movements so that they can study how you form the word.
Teaching Preschoolers and Older Children
The older kids are, the more creative and novel you’ll have to be to make the concept of learning the ABCs exciting. Here are some things I have enjoyed doing with my older children to reinforce their knowledge of the ABCs using these flashcards.
- Play this ABC fishing game. I created this ABC fishing game to teach some 3-4 year olds that I am babysitting, and they really love it. It’s pretty time consuming to create, but sooooooo worth it. You’ll need to print out two of my ABC Flashcard Posters and attach small magnets to the back underneath each letter (using hot glue and then box tape over top). Then print out my ABC fish, cut them out, use hot glue to attach a paper clip inside, use more hot glue around the edges to attach the upper and lowercase letters together, laminate, then cut out leaving a small amount of laminate so the edges won’t peel. I used these fishing poles from another ABC fishing game (not nearly as good as mine but still fun) but you could also make your own using a wooden dowel, some string or twine, and a small magnet attached to the bottom.
- Loose cards pick up. With the child sitting on your lap or nearby, hand him or her one card at a time. You can say, “What’s this?” or say the letter and ask him for the name of the object. He can either collect the cards in a stack in his hand, he can pile them up on the floor, your you can suggest that he makes a pile of his favorite letters.
- Spread out the cards. Spread all of the cards out on the floor and ask your child to either retrieve a certain letter or say, “Can you bring me a letter? What letters do you see?” You can also place them upside down so that only the colored side is facing up, sort them by color, or try to guess what letter it is before flipping it over.
- Make a path. You can spread out the letters alphabetically or just spread them out in a long line in any order. Then pretend that the floor is lava and tell your child that the letters are stones that will save her from the lava. As she hops from letter to letter ask her, “What letter are you on now? or What sound does the __ make?”
- Use a pocket chart. Get a pocket chart like this, give your child one letter at a time and have him put them into the pocket chart. You can arrange them in alphabetical or random order. You can also reverse this activity by starting with the letters in the chart and then having your child retrieve them one at a time.
- Make sticky letters. Put a piece of masking tape on the back of each letter. You can then give your child one letter at a time to put on the wall or herself, or you can start with them on the wall and have your child retrieve them and put them on your body, her body, the wall, around the house, where ever!
- Teach someone. Teach a younger sibling or even a stuffed animal. Make it silly and fun!
Materials Needed to Make My Resources
You can certainly just print these flashcards out on cardstock and use them as is, but babies love to chew on things, and laminating them and putting them together with some rings will ensure their durability.
- Printer – A good basic printer like this will do the job, but if you’re going to be doing a lot of printing, I would recommend something like this.
- Card Stock – I like to make sure I always have plenty of this around for all of my flashcards, posters, and other needs.
- Premium Paper – I use this for making my books because it doesn’t show through to the other side as much.
- Long Arm Stapler – You’ll need this for making the ABC book.
- Laminating Sheets – I like buying this big pack because it’s good to have plenty of laminating sheets for flashcards, posters, art projects, and more.
- Laminator – I have a basic laminator like this, and it works great for all types of paper and projects. When laminating, you want to leave at least an eighth of an inch of laminate around the edges so it won’t peel.
- Paper Cutter – You will LOVE having this around for cutting school pictures and so much more, but it’s great at cutting 4-5 pieces of cardstock and 3-4 stacks of laminated card stock.
- Three Hole Punch – This hole punch is really sturdy and can handle a whole stack of paper. I like angling my flashcards so I get right in the center of each of the top corners.
- 1/4 Inch Rings – When making flashcards, I have found it’s best to use two rings on top to keep everything organized and easy to flip through, and this size is best.
Follow These Steps to Teach Your Child How to Read:
I created these resources to help any parent (or teacher) teach their child/children to read in a fun and back to basics kind of way. If you follow these steps, your child will learn how to read easily and naturally just like my own five children did.
- Language Rich Environment: Talk to children about what they are doing and what you are doing using words they can understand. Teach new vocabulary words regularly to help them interact with their environment.
- Phonemic Awareness: Teach letter names and one sound for each letter including short vowels only. Teach this really really really well.
- Phonics: Tap out sounds in three letter words and blend them together to make words. Using magnets and upside down muffin tins is a great strategy for this.
- More Complex Phonemic Awareness: Introduce the remaining phonemes of our English language (44 in all) which are long vowels, digraphs, and other vowel sounds (long and short oo, dipthongs, and r controlled vowels).
- Reading Strategies: Create a love of reading with quality literature, interact with books, and ask questions before, during, and after reading.
Start young! It’s better to do a little bit over a long period of time rather than try to cram it all in the month before preschool or kindergarten starts. Read more about how to teach your child to read in my blog: Teach Your Child to Read in 5 Simple Steps. Check out my FREE READING RESOURCES page to get everything you’ll need to teach your child to read!
Babies and Toddlers LOVE to learn, and teaching them the letter names and letter sounds will not only lay the foundation for reading, but will allow them to interact more fully with the world around them. I had so much fun creating these resources and teaching my own five children the ABCs. I hope that you will have fun using them and teaching your children! Enjoy!
You may also enjoy the following blog: Free First Words Vocabulary Resources Plus Tips and Tricks for Use
For More Information
You’ll find everything you need to teach your child to read on my FREE READING RESOURCES page which includes flashcards, videos, plus more tips and tricks.
How to Teach Your Child to Read in 5 Simple Steps (Keeping it Simple)
- Language Rich Environment: Use oral language at the child’s level (Get down on the floor and play together!) and help them memorize vocabulary words. (Tell them the names of things!)
- Phonemic Awareness: Teach one sound for each letter of the alphabet. (Start with short vowels.)
- Phonics: Tap out sounds in three letter words to teach how sounds come together to make words.
- More Complex Phonemic Awareness: Introduce long vowels, digraphs, and other vowel sounds.
- Reading Comprehension Strategies: Use quality literature to interact with books and ask questions before, during, and after reading to make sure your child is understanding what is being read.
Teach Your Child to Read Blog Series (Digging Deeper)
- #1-Oral Language Development Lays the Foundation for Learning to Read
- #2-How Engage Your Baby or Young Child with Reading
- #3-Learning How to Read Begins with the ABCs
- #4-Memorizing Words Before Sounding Them Out Leads to Reading
- #5-Building Vocabulary with Numbers, Colors, and Shapes
- #6-Teaching Phonics with Three Letter Word Families
- #7-Unlock the Final Stages of Reading with Advanced Phonemic Awareness
- #8-Reading Comprehension Strategies Lead to Independent Readers
- #9-Reinforcing Reading with Writing