Over the past 8 years as I have taught my own five children how to read, I have been blown away by the importance of creating a vocabulary rich environment with lot of oral language and vocabulary development. Memorizing vocabulary words is a crucial part of learning how to read, and these first words resources will help your child to memorize their first vocabulary words.
When children memorize words (while simultaneously learning letter names and letter sounds) it teaches them what letters are used for, and this whole to part, part to whole concept is so important when learning to read.
I’ve tested out numerous resources (some that were great, some not so great) and over the years created my own resources to teach them how to memorize words. I am excited to share my resources with you here so that you can teach your child how to read! I’ve also included some helpful tips and tricks that will make this fun and easy for babies and toddlers as well as preschoolers and young children. It’s never too late to start teaching your child how to read!
What Makes My Flashcards Different
I have carefully selected words that are both interesting and useful to babies as toddlers as they are learning how to communicate with others. I have also included words with suffixes so children can become familiar with the fact that the main function of the word is the same even though there are different letters at the end.
Many words flashcards will either focus on vocabulary or sight words while mine focus exclusively on memorizing words. Most vocabulary flashcards will include pictures. In doing so, children associate the image with the word as they commit it to memory. With my flashcards, I want children to memorize the word as if it WERE an image. This will help train them how to memorize the shapes of words as they continue adding more and more words to their memory bank.
Sight words are words that children need to memorize by sight because they don’t sound how they are spelled (for example, words like said, was, and like). These are often high frequency words that are hard to derive meaning from unless they are used in the context of a sentence or a story. I feel that these words are best learned while reading quality literature.
Download a PDF of my first words flashcards with rounded corners here: First Words Flashcards
Download a PDF of my flashcards without square corners here: Words Flashcards PDF
I strongly suggest that you use my flashcards and video together. This will really help with repetition and consistency. In this video, I use my flashcards and myself speaking to share each word three times in a row followed by a video clip of my children acting out the words. All of the words are repeated in a cycle three times with different video clips.
Android Words Explorer App
My husband brought my Words Video to life in a new format. Children can click on a menu featuring each word to the the corresponding video. This is for Android devices only.
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 a PDF of my flashcards here: Words Printable Book
How to Make My Words 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 placemat or to hang on the wall.
Download this vertical version for a different look: Words Flashcards Poster
How to Use My Resources with Babies and Toddlers
I recommend starting to use these resources when your child is between 8-10 months of age and to do so while they are learning their ABCs. You will see the most dramatic amount of growth if you can start before the age of 1, and by the age of 2 at the very latest.
- Start with the video first. I have found that the best time to show the Words Video is while my children are eating. As you show your child the video initially, he or she might not show a tremendous amount of focus and attention, but as the video becomes familiar, you will notice it holding your child’s attention for longer periods of time.
- Add the flashcards. After your child is familiar with the video, start introducing the flashcards. Try to get through as many as you can but don’t force it. You may find that your child has favorite words and it’s okay to only include those favorite flashcards in the pack and add more as necessary.
- A little bit over a long period of time is best. Don’t try to cram everything into one day creating the “perfect lesson”. Doing a little bit over a long period of time is the best way to get something committed to long term memory. Keep little baskets around your house with flashcards so that when the moment is just right, they’re easy to grab.
- Show the flashcards while watching the video. Once your child is familiar with the words and video separately, use them together!
- Use wait time. Once your child is starting to say words, you can start using wait time. In my video I ask, “Can you say____?” and “What does this say?” After each question, I pause to give children a chance to say the word. When you do this with your child using the flashcards, make sure you allow just the right amount of wait time. If the pause becomes really long, just say the word and move on.
- Point out these words in daily life. Remember some of your child’s favorite words and use them often during the day. Words like kiss, clap, wave, and ball should be easy to incorporate throughout the day.
How to Use My Resources with Preschoolers and Older Children
If you have children 3, 4, or 5 years of age, and you haven’t started to teach them how to memorize vocabulary words yet, don’t fret! It is still possible to use these resources to teach your child to read. The focus needs to be on more engaging and hands on activities in order to make it interesting and appealing.
- Have the video on in the background. An older child may not be as motivated to sit down and watch this entire video, but you can play it in the background while they are playing. Wait until your children are building with legos, doing puzzles, or drawing, and then have this video on in the background so they can at least hear it. You may find them pausing their play to watch the video here and there and that’s perfectly fine. You could also have it on during meal time.
- Write and wipe. Kids LOVE using dry erase boards and markers. You can write the words from the flashcards and have them erase them, or have them copy the words from the flashcards and write them down.
- Flashcards timed. Show your child the flashcards repeatedly until he or she can say most words correctly. Then time a first read through, making sure it’s nice and slow. This will motivate the child to beat his or her original time.
- Loose cards and pocket chart. Take the flashcards off from the rings and hand one card at a time to your child. Have him or her place the cards into the pocket chart while trying to sort them in some way (by color, by type of word…is it an action? verb or is it a thing? noun)
- I spy. Spread all of the cards out on the floor and say, “I spy with my little eye a yellow word that starts with the letter c.” If they don’t get it, give another clue by acting out the word (like clapping your hands for clap) or giving another clue (like meowing for cat). They can either gather the words they find in a pile or put them in the pocket chart.
- Make a Path. You can spread out the words in a long line in any order. Then pretend that the floor is lava and tell your child that the words are stones that will save him or her from the lava. As he or she hops from word to word ask him or her, “What word are you on now?” or “What word will you be stepping on next.”
- Charades. Hold the flashcards away from you so you can’t see the word but your child can. Then tell your child that he or she must act out the word and you will have to guess it. You can make a rule that words can’t be used but sounds can. And of course they can use props from around the house or even draw a picture!
- Point out words while reading. The best way to teach children how to memorize words is by reading quality literature. When you notice the words from the flashcards in books you are reading, point to the word and say, “What does this say?” If your child doesn’t respond after a few seconds, tell him or her the word, but pause again the next time you read the book to see if he or she can get it.
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!
Teaching children how to read from a young age is sooooooo easy if you start by teaching children how to memorize words! If children simultaneously are learning their letter names and sounds and then taught how to memorize words, they will learn what letters are actually used for! So often, we teach the alphabet in isolation, and children aren’t given the vision of what those letters come together to do. By teaching your child to memorize these simple words, you will open a floodgate for memorizing more words, and you will be amazed when your child begins to read easily and at a young age. Happy learning!
You may also enjoy the following blog: Free ABC 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