Flash Cards to Teach Children Their Letters and Desert Animals: Connecting Numeracy and Literacy


Mathematics and literacy should go hand in hand.  I have used different things to teach my children letters of the alphabet and sounds they make.  In mathematics, we use letters as variables to solve for an unknown value/amount.  We also use our letters to form words and complete thoughts to be able to describe how we solved a problem and what questions or further explorations we still have about that problem.  This is why Learning Math with Mom has a Reading Corner on the website.  Literacy is important. What can you use to help your child begin the learning?  How about flash cards with a bit of meaning to them?

I had the pleasure of meeting a local artist, here in Tucson, AZ, at the 5th Annual UA Presents Children’s Festival.  Her name is Julie Rustad.  Julie owns Julie Originals and created a set of flash cards that related to letters and our local desert animals.  These are beautifully made flash cards and I really appreciate the thought that went into creating these miniature works of art.  Not only are they beautiful alphabet cards, but they also teach the desert child about the animals in our local surroundings.  As promised, here is Julie’s website for more information as to how to order the flash cards, or where to purchase them:  http://julieoriginals.com/.  The name of the flash cards is Desert Dwellers Flash Cards.  As a note, I have not been paid, or anything of sorts, to endorse Julie.  I simply was taken by the beauty and thought of her creation.

If you read any of my other blog entries, you know by now that simply using flash cards does not necessarily build on meaning or understanding.  So here are a few ideas of how to use Julie’s flash cards, or any other alphabet flash cards to make the learning experience for both you and your child(ren) more meaningful!


1)      Go outside and have your child hold, touch, see, hear, and smell things that start with that particular letter.  Practice pointing out what color(s) is on that particular animal.

2)      Practice and over emphasize the sound of the first letter of that object outside, or inside.  Allow the child to repeat the sound or you repeat the sound for him/her.

3)      For Julie’s cards, go out and see how many of the desert animals you can find outside.  Pull out that particular card and show it to your child(ren).  Practice the sounds that each letter in the name of the animals has.

4)      For an art project, work with your child(ren) to see the different shapes that each animal has on the body.  For example, the ears of a certain animal might look like circles or ovals.  The beak of a bird might look like a triangle.  Either precut those shapes out of construction paper or help your child draw the animal using those shapes.  This in particular, has helped my now 4 year old expand on his drawing by understanding what shapes make up a certain animal, car, or person.

5)      For night time reading, use the cards to read stories and facts about each animal.  Either you or your child(ren) can make up a story about that animal or a group of animals.

Where is this on the Schedule of Activities 0-18 months?


  1. Tuesday for Reading
  2. Thursday for Shapes
  3. Friday for Art
  4. Saturday and/or Sunday for Go see it outside and explore


Where is this on the Schedule of Activities 18 months-3 years? 


  1.  Monday for Shapes
  2. Monday-Friday for Letters
  3. Friday for Art
  4. Monday-Friday for Colors
  5. Saturday and/or Sunday for Go outside to see it and explore


Something to Think About: 

When it comes to finding that one thing/learning tool you can use for so many learning experiences for your child, it becomes golden because it is only one thing you need to keep track of in your house.  In addition to that, it is also a tool that can develop meaning for your child in so many different areas.  Think about it, these flash cards can fit in your purse, diaper bag, or car.  When the moment presents itself, take them out and do a quick lesson.

Again, as a parent, we might think we need to hurry up on teaching certain things to our children so that they won’t fall behind.  This allows us to become more stressed or pressured if our children are not learning at the rate we think they should.  No worries….just breathe.  Because even reading this blog and finding out how to help your child become more successful in math, literacy, and art should tell you that you are a wonderful and caring parent.  If your child takes more time to learn concepts, it is okay.  We all learn at different times.  Don’t worry too much. 🙂

copyright 2013 learning math with mom

copyright 2013 learning math with mom


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