How to use phonics flashcards

Written on 10th June, 2022

Learning phonics is the process of starting to read and understand letter sounds. It can also be a tricky topic to navigate for any parent, with lots of different concepts, advice and methods recommended. As a result, it can feel quite overwhelming and often confusing which results in a decision to accept that a child will simply learn as they make their way through the early stages of education. That said, the power of understanding and applying good methods in teaching phonics can result in children becoming more confident in speech and language, improving memory recall, building on literacy skills and building confidence in their natural learning journey.

The Happy Little Doers Phonics Flashcards have been specifically designed to not only ensure that parents have a clear understanding of the process of learning phonics, but that both children and parents can really enjoy learning using fun and engaging activities that make learning effective.

Happy Little Doers Phonics Flashcards

Best-selling phonics flashcards by Happy Little Doers

In this article, we introduce one of our best-selling products, our Phonics Flashcards, and explain how to use phonics flashcards effectively.

What are the best phonics flashcards for children?

At Happy Little Doers, we’ve spent a great deal of time researching different ways of learning phonics in resources already on the market and in early years settings. As a result, we have created a product that has been highly praised and approved by both parents as well as early years teaching professionals and speech and language therapists.

We strongly believe that Happy Little Doers Phonics Flashcards are the best phonics flashcards for children. Why? Firstly, let’s run through what’s included in each pack:

  • Phonic Cards – The pack contains 25 double-sided single phonic flashcards, that have been carefully designed to be clear, engaging yet minimalist to prevent distraction. On one side, a high contrast, child-friendly font displaying letters for letter recognition and understanding letter-sound relationships. On the other side a high contrast, colour coded (to help recognise within the ‘Sound Group’ to which that card belongs) scene, featuring silhouettes of named animals performing sports and activities. Beneath the scene a short sentence for parents, teachers or carers to read and children to repeat that describes the scene on the card, encouraging a more efficient memory recall of the letter sound being taught.
  • Sound Group Card – The Sound Group Card features 6 colour-coded groups, referencing both single letter sounds (e.g. ‘s’) and two-letter sounds (e.g. ‘ch’ – known as digraphs). All sounds are known as phonemes. This is a key card, designed to help guide parents and carers on which sounds to focus on teaching their children first, second and so on. One of the most common groups used across learning resources is ‘s, a, t, p, i, n’, and these are the sounds used in the first group.
  • Pronunciation Card – The Pronunciation Card is designed to help assist parents on how each single letter and digraph (yep, you got it… two-letter!) are correctly pronounced. The most common mistake when learning phonics is mispronouncing a sound, such as ‘t-uh’ instead of ‘t’, or ‘b-uh’ instead of ‘b’ as examples. Ensure that both you and your child are confident in the pronunciation before using the sound blending card.
  • Sound Blending Card – The Sound Blending Card is designed to be used alongside the Sound Group Card. This is a double-sided card that features simple words that can be created using the first Sound Group and then the first and second Sound Group combined. It is incredibly important to understand the relationship between letter and phonetic sound pronunciation first, at this stage.

As with all Happy Doers Flashcards, the pack features a signature activity card that helps guide parents on additional ways that the cards can be used.

Ways of using phonics flashcards

When teaching phonics, it is incredibly important for parents to follow the guidance given by the individual product that is being used; Happy Little Doers or otherwise. In the same regard as learning in other subjects, learning each stage in order will make it easier to teach and learn subsequent stages (much like learning numbers – children need to master 1 to 19 to build the confidence of learning 20 and upwards!). However… within each stage supplied with the Happy Little Doers Phonics Flashcards for kids, there are a number of fun ways that the cards can be used for learning.

Activities for learning phonics using Happy Little Doers Phonics Flashcards

Activities for learning phonics using Happy Little Doers Phonics Flashcards

‘Explorer’ activities

Physical activities are a fantastic way of making the best use of energy from toddlers and children learning in their early years. There are some brilliant activities included within each phonics flashcards pack that are specifically designed to help challenge children and help build up a natural resilience through physical activities.

Combining physical interaction with the opportunity to explore is an effective way of helping to develop essential skills. One activity example from the cards is a phonics hunt.

Lay the phonics cards out (depending on which stage you are at and the sound you wish to focus on), letter facing up and simply ask your child to find objects or items around the house that begin with that sound. Your child may or may not be able to recognise the letter itself at this stage (and that’s ok!) and the purpose is about subconscious repetition.

Let’s take the first letter that features in Stage 1, ‘S’ (pronounced ‘sss’, not ‘s-uh’). If you ask your child to find some objects that start with that sound to place on the card, your child is encouraged to explore. In your child’s head, or maybe out loud, they will be repeating the sound of ‘s’. Repetition is the key to learning, so the fact that this learning is a secondary task within their exploration makes learning phonics sounds this way extremely effective.

At the same time, the activity allows children to build up resilience and understand choice. By enabling them to make decisions they are able to build up confidence in future decision-making tasks as well as leadership roles.

Recognition Activities using Happy Little Doers Phonics Flashcards

Recognition Activities using Happy Little Doers Phonics Flashcards

‘Recognition’ activities

Phonics is not only about building an understanding of sounds and relationships with the letters but also about building up memory recall for the physical letter formation. The cards work hand-in-hand with additional letter resources (such as magnetic or wooden letter shapes), so activities such as matching the object letter to the card letter are brilliant for imprinting letter formation. The Happy Little Doers Phonics Flashcards also have their own unique benefit in that, combining them together helps to teach sound blending and the formation of words. Building familiarity with simple words encourages the full cycle in learning both speech and language development.

‘Tactile’ Activities

Children love tactile activities – an opportunity to learn through sensory play and discovering new materials and textures. Tactile activities are a very popular way of learning in early years development whether it is learning numbers, shapes or writing or otherwise. So naturally, learning phonics in this way has some real benefits, and there are plenty of ways of creating fun activities this way. The most common way of learning reading and writing using tactile play is using a ‘sand tray’. Sand Trays are available to buy, or you can use any general tray at home.

Simply fill the tray with the texture of your choice – there’s a whole world of things out there to use; sand, mud, rice, lentils, couscous, jelly, slime and more! Focus on one card at a time for the stage that is being learnt. Using the card as a reference, trace the letter, or letters, being shown on the card. As the letter is being traced, sound out the phoneme that is being shown. Repetition of the sound whilst tracing out the formation of the letter will encourage a more efficient way of building up memory recall. As confidence in letter recognition and sounds grows, combine the letters together to form small, simple words and use the same activity. Tracing each of the letters in a sequence that form the word, will begin to grow sound blending and full word recognition.

Are flashcards effective for learning language?

The answer to this is yes, however… remember that every child, or grown-up for that matter, learns in their own individual way and at their own pace. There are some great resources out there that are effective in learning language and phonics – from books to television programmes. Most parents with young children over the last 15 years or so may be familiar with books written by Julia Donaldson, best known for writing The Gruffalo and Zog. Those that prefer to learn the language through books, and more specifically phonics, are in luck as a selection of 36 short stories are included with her Songbird Phonics Collection.

So, how do the Happy Little Doers Phonics Flashcards compare to these books? The reality is they are chalk and cheese. The books by Julia Donaldson are fantastic short stories, with a principle of focusing on sounds. The stories help to create imagination and enable children to memorise stories that are short enough to recite. Books are also great to read at bedtime. The flashcards can be used independently or complementary to the books and are used in a completely unique way to the books.

As mentioned earlier in this article, the flashcards by Happy Little Doers all come with an activity card that is specifically designed to stimulate learning through active engagement. If you haven’t already read our article outlining the different learning styles and how to support your children at home, we recommend having a quick read to understand how Happy Little Doers Flashcards cater for all methods of learning.

Learning sound blending with Happy Little Doers Phonics Flashcards

Learning sound blending with Happy Little Doers Phonics Flashcards

The key difference between phonics flashcards and other resources is that flashcards focus on the individual letters with sounds. In instances where children may be having difficulties with the pronunciation of phonemes, flashcards are by far the most effective way of learning. For parents who are proactively looking to encourage the development of their children’s reading and writing skills, the activities recommended within the Happy Little Doers Phonics Flashcards packs hold invaluable ways of learning phonics through play. The beauty of the cards is they are not limited to those activities but can be used in a number of creative ways.

An activity that is well-used within the Happy Little Doers household is “What’s the password?”. With Billy in his final year of nursery and due to go into Reception in September, he has grasped recognition for the individual phonemes within the phonics flashcard pack and has built a good memory recall for the specific sentences on the backs of each card with the illustration. So, he is at a point where he is learning ‘Sound Blending’. Using a large wooden flashcard holder, we create small simple 2 and 3-letter words using the phonics flashcards and place them in the holder, outside the bedroom on a table or window sill. Billy is a bit of an early bird, and clearly, a morning person so is very keen to get on with the day and more importantly, breakfast at 6 am on the dot. However, before he can wake Mum and Dad up, he plays “What’s the password?”. Using his understanding of the phonemes, he reads the word left out for him in the holder and practises sound blending. When he discovers the word, he opens the door and says the password and if he is right, the day begins!

As we say with all of our cards, children will learn in their own way and at their own pace. What helps with progression is being able to identify which way of learning works best for them.

Credit as always to Frances Nellie for her amazing photography.

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