Last week I rediscovered a pack of ancient Jay Jay the Jet Plane alphabet flash cards while cleaning out my infamous kitchen junk drawer. They were sandwiched between a pair of silly pirate teeth and an old spray bottle of eyeglass cleaner. Ever since I bought the poor things they have lived in the back of that drawer, but now it is time to put them to good use!
I have come up with a few good ideas for using them with my 3 year old. The first is a good old Alpha-Letter Scavenger Hunt. In order to start, have a deck of store bought (or homemade) flashcards and a separate sheet of paper listing all the letters of the alphabet. Then, secretly hide the flash card letters all around the house—and even outdoors if you can, next to things that begin with that particular letter. For instance, I might put letter A next to the apples! Once your child finds the letter, cross it off the list and continue.
My next idea is a fun twist on scrapbooking. I call it AlphaScrapping. Take pictures of your child holding up a letter. Once you print it out, mount it on a sheet of paper using photo safe glue. Then decorate around the picture with things that begin with that letter, fun words your child likes that begin with that letter or any other thing you can think of that has to do with that letter. For instance, the page for the letter L could have pictures of lettuce from the weekly supermarket circular, the word lion, and some colored leaves that have fallen from the trees in your neighborhood. You could do this as a letter of the day, week, or month, lesson.
Another great game is AlphaFishing! At the beginning of the year, I bought a package of round magnets from WalMart and I have been itching for a reason to use them. This is the PERFECT way to get them out of the package and have fun with them. Attach a paper clip (the metal type, not the colored coated type) to the top of each flash card. Get creative making a fishing rod out of a stick (or wooden dowel), some string and a magnet. Then spread the cards around and have your child fish for letters. Whatever letter they catch and can correctly identify, they keep—any fish they do not know, you identify for them and then it gets tossed back into the ocean.
AlphaFind is a great game to teach little ones beginning reading skills. Gather several household objects that start with the letters on your flashcards. Place the flashcards in front of your preschooler and ask him or her to place the correct letter in front of the object that begins with it. If they guess correctly, the card remains in front of the item. If not, the card goes back into the group of remaining flashcards.
Making words can also be fun with flashcards. Find pictures of simple words using old magazines, newspapers or books. Write the word on a separate sheet of paper in big bold letters. Show your child the word and picture. Read the word while encouraging your child to read it with you. Once you have shown your child the picture and read the word, place the flashcard letters in front of you and scramble them up. For instance, if my word were CAT, I would arrange them so that they read, TCA. Encourage your child to unscramble the word so that it matches the one on the paper and then read it aloud.