Sunday, April 15, 2007

Create fun colors flashcards for your Pre-K-er

Homemade Flashcards
by Michelle Fulton (Apr 12, 2007)
As a room parent for my twin sons' class, I've felt it my responsibility to contribute to class activities and I've found that my love of photography and scrapbooking naturally evolved into a way in which I could teach my own (and other) children.
I always feel that a picture is worth a thousand words and to a child of three years, the picture of a real horse, a real cow, a yellow school bus or a white cloud is more worthwhile than anything a coloring page could try to convey. Since colors are something their curriculum focuses on, I decided that I would make a set of flashcards that would help to teach them colors.
To make my flashcards, I gathered a few simple supplies - cardstock for ten basic colors, pictures to represent those colors, double-sided tape, a corner rounder punch and a set of laminating pouches.
Of all these supplies, the hardest thing to get your hands on may be the pictures. (The rest of the items you can find at your local Target store.) I, like most photographers, take pictures of just about anything. When my boys started school, I made a conscious decision to start taking pictures of basic objects - leaves, flowers, school buses, etc. - so I could use pictures as a way to teach them not only what a flower is, but what color each of these objects are.
Don't worry too much if you don't have a lot of "object" pictures. It's really not that difficult to get a group of pictures for your flashcards and the process can be fun. Just keep in mind that the best way to take a picture for a flashcard is to get up close. You're not going to need to get "really close" to a car, but you should with a flower or a bug or some eggs. Don't be afraid to use the macro setting on your camera; that's why it's there.
I chose to keep my flashcards simple, as I do most of my layouts, but these are obviously very simple. I want my sons to focus on the image and the word, not any embellishments or patterned paper.
To create my flashcards, I used the following steps:
Since my laminating pouches are sized to hold a 4" x 6" picture, I made my flashcard base (photo mat) that size and rounded each of the corners.
I cropped each of my pictures so there would be approximately a quarter-inch margin around each picture when mounted on the flashcard base, and rounded the corners. As you can see below, I used the same color cardstock as the color of the object in the picture, to reinforce the color concept of the flashcard.
On the back of each card, I spelled out the color name in the actual color and in upper and lowercase letters, so they will get used to seeing it both ways. You'd be surprised how many books focus on only the capital letters for small children.
I attached each side (picture and color-name block) onto the cardstock base using double-sided tape and then placed the card in the laminating pouch.
If you've never used a laminating pouch, they are great for preserving pictures, so you can display them at work or at home without worrying about them getting damaged. In this case, they were perfect for my flashcards because they provide a protective layer for the picture as well as some stiffness against the great gripping (and bending) power of toddlers.
If you want an even sturdier flashcard, you may want to consider inserting a layer of chipboard. The laminating pouches that I used are acid-free, photo-safe, and repositionable, with rounded corners, so I know my flashcard will be safe. I purchased the self-seal kind of pouches, so I didn't need to have an expensive laminating machine.
For my color flashcards, I used the following objects:
red berries
pink flower
orange pumpkins
yellow fire hydrant
green clovers
purple rose
black cat
white eggs
brown cow
These were all objects that were close to my house or the boys' school (with the exception of the cow), so you'll see that it shouldn't be too difficult to find some good color candidates.
There are obviously some things that could come in just about any color such as crayons, cars, flowers, or balloons, so if you're having trouble coming up with a picture for a particular color (purple may be tricky), you can always go with one of these stand-bys.
You don't have to stop with colors; you can make flashcards on just about anything that you want your kids to learn. You can make learning addition and subtraction fun by using die-cut numbers. Since my boys are into anything with two or more wheels, I also made them cards with pictures of buses, cars, trucks and motorcycles.
Creating flashcards for your children is a great way to help them learn and a great way for you to use up some of your scraps or practice taking pictures from a different perspective.