Flashcard FAQs

Recently, a few blog readers wrote to me with questions about practicing flashcards as well as making them. So, I decided to write this post to share my knowledge and personal experiences.

Purposes of flashcards:
Flashing the cards in a high speed activates our child’s right brain and empowers their memory ability. When we flash the picture cards, we read out the words at the same time.

While the pictures are processed by the right brain, the left brain picks up the language. Both sides of the brain are connected during the process. In addition, flash cards can also increase our child’s vocabulary.

Topics for flashcards:
I focus on the basic concepts like colors, shapes, sizes, numbers, orders, time etc. Understanding these basic concepts is the most important milestone for a one year-old. In addition, I also make picture cards with the same theme such as types of flowers, occupations, food, fruits, Disney characters etc. For two year-old and above, we can add sentence structure flashcards too.

Guidelines for home practice:
I want to share with you some basic guidelines when we are practicing flashcards with our child.
1. Do not repeat the same set of cards at a time.
2. Start with 100 cards per session in the first month, then to an average of 250 cards per session, and then slowly move forward to 1000 cards per session.
3. Have a title for each set of cards.
4. Set the cards slightly higher than the child’s eye level.
5. Keep each session short at about 15 minutes. Have at least one session per day.
6. The ideal speed to flash a card is 0.5 second per card.
7. At the end of the session, don’t forget to praise and hug our child.

Making our own flashcards:
I made lots of them. In fact, it’s very easy. Just need a little time and determination. These are the steps:
1. Prepare the slides with Microsoft Powerpoint.
2. Print the slides on A4 size paper using a color printer.
3. Next, cut the pictures in accordance to the size of the blank flashcards. I am using A5 size blank flashcards.
4. Paste the pictures onto the blank flashcards using a UHU stick. UHU stick does a better job than normal glue. No mess and no spillage.
5. Finally, write the names of the cards at the back of the flash cards. This enables us to read out the names when we flash the cards.

Where to buy white blank flashcards:
1. Hiap Moh – cheapest, but higher MOQ
2. Popular
3. Shichida Tensai shop
4. My Little Ones

Ideally, the card thickness should be between 310-350gsm. At least one side of the card is glossy. You can also buy protective sheets – a clear transparent plastic film to protect your flashcards from getting dirty. These protective sheets are usually reusable.

In addition to flashcards, I also read a variety of books with my son. Recently, we started watching educational DVDs over the weekend. I’m confident that my hard works and determination will pay off one day. I’m happy to see good progress in my son day by day.

If you are already practicing flashcards with your child, continue with the good work and do not give up! I wish all of you success!

Thanks for sharing :)

Thanks for sharing 🙂

To flash or not to flash...

Quote joshjay, "I have heard rave reviews of doing flashcards to our kids when they are young. I have also bought alot of flashcards. However, whenever I do flashcards, my 18 month old ds dun seem to be interested. He can’t keep still, not looking at the cards or he wants to play with the cards. Any advice how can I carry out the activity then? Also, do u flash picture cards or word cards? Thanks."

As all children are born unique to their own traits, each one will work well with different learning styles. As with flashing and with other methods of teaching, ideally the child should start learning or at least be exposed early. Just like speaking… if the child is not raised within an environment that is language-rich, the child may pick up learning a language much later than other children their age. I have 2 girls of contrast characters and they both responded to flashcarding in two contrast ways as well. Here’s just sharing my experience.

We were invited to a friend’s GD centre which was supposed to hold its opening soon. We came in a group of like 6 to 7 pairs of parent+child to help our friend with some hands-on testing. The children were separated into two age groups and the older ones got to go in first. They were approximately around 5 to 7 years of age.

The teacher welcomed the kiddies but forgot to introduce herself and we though, uh-oh.. the personal touch with the kiddies was gone at first try. Mebbe she was nervous but she also did not ask for the children’s names either. The only warm up was a very brief circle time of a welcome song some sort. The teacher did not sing. Only the tape recorder was doing all the singing, reciting and in short doing most of the talking. While the tape went about the welcome or hello song (i forgot which) the teacher was flashing the cards according to the speed the song was going. The group of children just looked at the teacher and that at each other, after which they giggled and a few sorta tried to sing along to the tape.

That done… the teacher said today we’re going to learn some French words. Again the tape played the words and the teacher flashed at great speed! I was impressed with her speed cos i don’t think i could do it like her. I tried at the end of the supposedly trial lesson and i fumbled helplessly. I wasn’t so nimble with my fingers.. The teacher repeated the presentation/lesson and moved on. She did try to gauge the retention from each individual child. She flashed to the child the same French words and asked each to say out the words. For those they forgot or do not know she would fill in the gaps. Using the same theme i think it was something like numbers or general greetings (sorry cannot remember also).. but this time in Chinese. It was again repeated i think for reinforcement. Then the brief who-can-remember-what-this-card-says with all of them in Chinese this time. Lastly it was done in Spanish. By now half the class have disappeared (mind wandered elsewhere). The boys were starting to fidget and walking away from the group to touch other things in the room. And since there weren’t many materials around, the group eventually started to get cranky and all they seem like they wanted was to get outta that room.

Second part of the lesson was some hands on with wild animals and some manipulative play and back to the reinforcement on some flashing but this time with street signs if i remember correctly. Parents who were there didn’t see a semblance or relevance of animal models with street signs. We thought that mebbe doing a transportation theme may provide a better link to the lesson.. but we went with it and observed further. With the street signs was better mebbe cos it’s pictorial and not words. Plus they all got a break with a short manipulative play session. At the end of it, the teacher recapped the French, Chinese and Spanish word cards flashing and the children just had to listen. At dismissal, i could hear some kiddies repeating some foreign words and giggling as to what the words may have meant and that was that.

The younger kiddies then went in. Most were backed by parents as a few were clingy including my DD2. So the kids sat in front of their mommies. Lesson started the same way as with the older kiddies only this time we saw wide-eyed clingy babies at full attention. One was crying softly in one end of the classroom. None of the kiddies responded during the welcome song. Mebbe an unfamiliar tune and also most couldn’t read yet except for my DD2 and another kiddie who simply read along and trying to pick up speed and trying to sing in tune. Next came the number cards, first in English then in Mandarin and lastly in French. Similarly, all the kiddies were asked to repeat what they could remember. DD2 could recite at the same speed that the teacher flashed about 3 quarters of it! She aced the English ones since she could read and the Chinese and French 75% of them. I was starting to sit up and paying attention as to what made this time different. During the 2nd part of the lesson the kiddies also had manipulatives to play with and a few seemed like Montessori inspired materials which DD2 aced again since we have some of the stuff at home as well. The teacher showed the kiddies yet another song, done with flashcards and tape and before dismissal a recap of the number words in all 3 languages. This time i could see more children trying hard to capture the flashing and trying to read them right. 

When we were asked for our views on what we experienced, our fren accepted all views openly and shared willingly the GD methods and its strengths. While we agree on certain parts of the flashing, most of us hoped for better linkage of lesson genre/theme which may enable children to retain better. But according to her the GD method is not designed for linkage but more for that vocab bank that all children can master in mere weeks if given the opportunity to undertake lessons with them. And mind you, not just in English but a wealth of other languages and signs and pictures of varying themes. 

The verdict : The older kiddies asked when they could leave… a few asked for something to eat. The younger ones were going to some shelves trying to pick up some cards or some manipulatives. The parents were chatting and sharing. The obvious verdict was it could become a hit with the younger group perhaps given more time. As for the older kiddies, we were all talking of mebbe fine tuning it.. but of course these were only suggestions. The owner still stuck by her GD knowledge and showed so much conviction in the method and her sharings did rub off a little on us and we all agree to disagree and also respected the values, the objectives in any other different learning method we get to experience. Thanks to her invitation, we all went home with something interesting to think about.

The goodbye : The goodbye was brief yet memorable. The teacher invited the children for a short gym session where the children were assisted with monkey bars and some mat exercises and were rewarded with sweets/lollipops. A quick goodbye song and huggies and kissies. We all thanked our friend for an eye-opening experience and went back even wiser of yet another learning style that could work for some of our children. 

The effect : DD1 almost forgot her session details when i tried to recap about the day before we headed for bed that night. DD2 kept saying she knew how to read Chinese and French words and felt proud about it. When asked if they would like to go back there for lessons, DD1 said no thank you but DD2 said she won’t mind trying it out again. 

So there joshjay, my sharings. Sorry a bit long.

There is no one method fix all. While something may work for someone, it may not work for another. At 18mths, where a child is active it may pose a challenge to flash. You may want to try when your child is less active during the day… a more quiet time per se.. just a suggestion lah.. Work with a few cards and like tankee mentioned, increase when you observe encouraging response from your child. Some parents go further by preparing Powerpoint slides as another form of reinforcement with the flashcarding.

All in all if it doesn’t work (given that you have put some time and effort into the idea)… it is still okay to work with your child ala learning through play like how tankee allows his son to pick out the card that says what… or sort the cards according to theme… or even get your child to read the card that you pick out from a secret box… Well, in short… we work with how our children can learn best as that will be how they will remember how they enjoy learning.

I say, give it a shot… try it out… give it some time. Children of different temperaments would also respond differently. Plus, with any methodology… it takes time to see it bear results. Most parents i know who believe in flashing are extremely dedicated and commited to the method and ensures that reinforcement is done on a daily basis. Of course again, the limitations of time is subjective to each individual. Good luck & hope it works out for you.



Flash Cards' Effectiveness

Quote mandytan, "Full effectiveness of  flash cards  are for kids in which age group?"

Some start as early as when the child can see ie. 3mths to 4mths while others wait

till the baby can at least sit unassisted in a baby chair at mebbe say 6mths? 

As for full effectiveness, while it varies from child to child… i would say the method is

most effective at most till 3yrs old where retention of the flashcarding are at its peak.


Hi Joshjay   How I start

Hi Joshjay
How I start with my DS when he was less than 1 year old was began with just a few pieces and just 2-3 cycles. I varied my tone of voice to make it more interesting (just like reading a story book). Once the attention was gone, I would stop. Over time, the attention duration gradually became longer and I increased the number of cards accordingly.
Sometimes, I ended the session with a little game by placing the cards on the floor and encourage my son to grap the correct card.
Good luck and enjoy !

Proud Daddy of P1 Boy at Tao Nan School …

Recognition first, understanding later

Hi MandyTan
This practise in recognition first, understanding later is quite commonly preached in language teaching.

Proud Daddy of P1 Boy at Tao Nan School …




Can I ask how old is your girl now? I am asking cos I have a boy in P1 and a boy in N2. Is it too late to start?

Hi! I've some A4 card paper


I’ve some A4 card paper suitable for making flash cards to give away.  Please PM me if you are interested.  You will have to cut it to A5 size yourself, self-collect please.


I swear by Flashcards.. my gal is a proven example of how effective flashcards are.. its up to the parents to give more information to them so its not  recognition without understanding… its how you value add to the flashcards..that includes using stressing the words to them by showing them or talking to them.. it takes a lot of determination for the parents and while at it, it actually helped me to increase my knowledge too! I had to do research before i could answer my gal!

FYI, its best to start flashcards from birth and my own experience tells me after 1 year, its so much easier to teach my gal coz i believe I opened up her right brain. Now she can absorb many information very quickly and remembers them and even picked up new words while reading by herself.  REad the signs along the way home, read the signs at the carpark, read the road signs and danger signs.. they will pick up fast!  

I started my gal at 6mths and she was reading both english and chinese words at 1 year old..

later she progressed to Phonics coz her school teaches them and she just made all the people at the ATM queue laughed yesterday by reading our D.B.S. Bank as Di-bist bank!!


Good luck to all..

Flash Cards

Hi Tankee

So is this a favourable method.. recognition without understanding?

Hi, I have heard rave


I have heard rave reviews of doing flashcards to our kids when they are young. I have also bought alot of flashcards. However, whenever I do flashcards, my 18 month old ds dun seem to be interested. He can’t keep still, not looking at the cards or he wants to play with the cards. Any advice how can I carry out the activity then? Also, do u flash picture cards or word cards? Thanks.

Flash Cards

I stopped practising flash cards with my DS when he was 5 years old.
However, I do know of someone that continued to practise flash cards with her daughter when the child was in P1. She made her own flash cards of long words like "considerations", "composition", "comprehension", "compromising" etc Her daughter was able to recognise and read those words by sight without using phonics. Of course she did not understanding the meaning of most of the words.

Proud Daddy of P1 Boy at Tao Nan School …

Full effectiveness of

I am keen to know in which age group too.  I believe it is for early childhood up to 5 year old, max at 6.  Otherwise it will be too "boring" isnt it?

Full effectiveness of

Full effectiveness of  flash cards  are for kids in which age group?

Related Articles