Why picture flash cards are an effective learning tool for kids

mom teaching her kid with flash cards from skillmatics

Teacher Lisa Newby shares her thoughts on how to use flash cards with your little ones.

Some of my favorite visual learning tools are books, games, and of course, flashcards! Flashcards are a fun and effective tool for teaching all ages. Many of us remember using flashcards for studying and memorizing important facts or random information. 

Flashcards for young children are not like the ones we made to study for exams -- they have pictures on them!

mom playing with her boy with flash cards

As a teacher and a parent, I have found that using flashcards is a great way to introduce, review, and memorize content while also making it easily accessible and fun. 


For toddlers, flashcards can be used to introduce concepts and new words. I love using flashcards to teach or practice colors, animals, foods, sight words, numbers, new languages, vocabulary, early math facts - the ideas are endless! 

Skillmatics has a fantastic line of tear-resistant, vibrant picture flashcards that make learning enjoyable and engaging for all ages.  

As parents and teachers, we have limited time, especially when our littlest ones have short attention spans. While raising my two sons and teaching in primary education for 24 years, I have found that exposing young children to flashcard activities can be extremely beneficial for their cognitive development as well as their visual stimulation. Flashcards can make it easier for children to recall information and understand concepts.  

In my experience, there is no wrong or right way to use flashcards. All children develop at their own individual pace and learn differently, so have fun experimenting to see which works best for your child(ren).

Benefits of using flashcards:

  • Practicing recall makes connections in the brain and improves memory.  By going through a small pile of flashcards you will be able to repeat the cards and build confidence and memory.
  • Flashcards are fun and provide a different way to learn and practice information. Turn them into a game and watch the learning take off!
  • Depending on the age of the child, flash cards can be used independently. Kids can practice, play with and easily access flashcards. 
  • Portable learning (great to grab on the go, in the car, grandma’s house, or waiting in line)

Here are some of my favorite ways to use flashcards at home and at school. For younger children I advise using fewer cards.

  1. Matching- Match upper case letters with lowercase letters, letter names with letter picture sounds (P with Pencil), match sums with equations, match numbers with 5 objects with 5 dots, animals with animal babies, etc. Flash Cards for toddlers: Letters, Numbers, Shapes & Colors would be great for this one. 

  2. Movement and Matching- Do the same as above but get your child moving! Place flashcards apart from each other on the rug, a table or multiple surfaces and have them find the match and set it on top of its partner card. Numbers with numbered picture sets, colors with matching colored pictures, shapes with matching shapes.  It’s best to pull out a set of 6, 10 or 20 depending on the age of the child. 

  3. Memory- Place all the cards face down in rows of four. Take turns turning over cards to make matches such as the pink color card matches with the pink flamingo, or for the shape cards match the circle card with the beachball card. Keep making matches until there are no more cards to turn over.  

  4. Scavenger Hunt-(My favorite) Use Painter’s tape with the Skillmatics flashcards and  tape the flashcards around your home. Have your child go on a scavenger hunt for the “A” or the “baby lion,” “number 5,” the word “like,” or find a card that has the “P” sound - the options are limitless! 

  5. War- For number and math fact practice have two piles of cards face down.  On the count of 3 both players turn over their card. The highest card wins and takes the match.  The player with the most cards at the end wins. There are many different ways you can play this version of the game. Flash Cards for toddlers: Letters & First 100 Words would work well. 

  6. Guess the Missing Shape:  Flash cards-Letters, Numbers, Shapes, Colors This is a great one for toddlers. Line the shape cards up in a row and go over and name each shape. Once you have practiced all the names of the shapes, have them close their eyes and take away one shape card. Have them open their eyes and see if they can guess which shape card is missing. 

  7. Be creative and make up your own game! 

I often advise parents of school-aged children to use flashcards at home or on the road as a great way to support the learning that happens in the classroom. The Skillmatics cards are also fabulous because the sturdy, double sided flashcards with realistic imagery work wonders for developing language in toddlers! I encourage you to grab the Skillmatics flashcards for an enjoyable learning experience while bonding and having a great time with your child(ren) or students. Enjoy! 


Lisa Lefrak Newby, M.Ed is an elementary educator and coach with 24 years of experience in the classroom teaching grades TK through 5th. She is the mother of two boys ages 15 and 11. Lisa is the oldest of five daughters and organizer of all family game nights!

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