Animal Flash Cards
by Eric Carle
So much of prereading is about inviting toddlers to love words. We want them to see that letters make words, and words have meaning. But we also want to show them that words can be playful, and can help us communicate about the things we need and name the things we enjoy -- like animals, for instance.
Each animal pictured in Eric Carle’s Animal Flash Cards corresponds to a letter of the alphabet, from alligator to zebra. These sturdy large (roughly 5 ½ X 7") cards picture an animal, clearly labeled in all lower case letters (e.g., “alligator”) on one side; and on the other, the corresponding upper case and lower case beginning letter (“Aa”). Children will recognize many of their favorite Eric Carle characters, such as the hero of The Very Hungry Caterpillar and the elephant from Do You Want to Be My Friend? As they become more familiar with the letters of the alphabet, a favorite activity I’ve tried with youngsters is to line up the cards in order, using the “ABC” song as a guide: “Which one comes next?” and then we sing “ABCD…” until we get to the empty spot and solve the mystery of the missing letter. And they're off and running in search of the card that fills that spot. Children love this game; it teaches them how much they know. And inevitably, these cards lead them right back to Eric Carle’s books.