Alphabet flash cards are a fun way for preschoolers to learn letters and basic words. Imagine how much more fun they will have learning from flash cards with pictures of family members and familiar items. Alphabet flash card: C Got digital photos? Here are the steps to turn them into alphabet flash cards.

To make learning easier, select photos in which the main subject is clearly identifiable. Family member portraits with contrasting backgrounds are ideal.

Is your family tree missing a Larry, Linda, Lorie or Lester for the L card? No problem—plan a neighborhood excursion to find and photograph the perfect L.

Numerous layouts are possible, depending on your photo editing skills. For this article I chose a basic layout with letters on the left half and image on the right half of a 4x6" card.

Tools you will need

If you have a digital camera then you are half way there to having all the tools you need to create the flash cards. The other half is a digital photo editing software such as Adobe Photoshop Elements.

More specifically, here are the tools you need, some of them optional:

  1. Digital photo from which to create the flash card. This image could be from a digital camera or scanned in from a traditional photo.
  2. Digital photo editing software with "layer" features. This is required to edit the photo and compose the alphabet flash card image.
  3. If you have a photo printer that can handle 4x6" photo paper, then you can print the flash cards at home. Use the thickest photo paper you can find for a sturdy card.
  4. If you do not have a photo printer, you can prepare the flash card images at home and have them developed by a photo lab (see Developing Digital Photos Online).

Preparing the Image: Generic Steps

In this section I provide the generic steps for creating the alphabet flash card images featured on this page. If you are familiar with a photo editing software, you should be able to interpret the generic steps into specific commands. Adobe Photoshop Elements users, see next section.

Alphabet flash card: L
  1. Select an image to represent the alphabet letter.
  2. Open the image in the photo editing software.
  3. Rotate image, if necessary.
  4. Make any photo editing, enhancing, color correction, etc., as desired.
  5. Crop the image into 3 x 4 proportions. This will take up half of a 6 x 4 card.
  6. Select and copy the final image. This places the image into the computer's "clipboard" and lets you paste it later.
  7. Create a new, blank image which will hold the completed flash card. The new image has the following proportions:
    • Width: 6 in
    • Height: 4 in
    • Resolution: 300 pixels per inch (ppi)
  8. Change the background color of the blank image to a solid color of your choice. This color will be the background of the left side.
  9. Paste the image you copied in step 6 into a layer of the blank image.
  10. Size and move the image as needed, so it occupies the right half of the card.
  11. Insert a text box in the top left corner, containing the upper case alphabet letter. I used the "Arial Black" font, 140 point size.
  12. Insert a text box in the middle left, containing the word. I used the "Arial Black" font, 48 point size.
  13. Insert a text box in the bottom right corner of the left side, containing the lower case alphabet letter. I used the "Arial Black" font, 60 point size.
  14. Add a drop shadow to all text layers.
  15. Save image with a unique name, such as "Flash Card - A.psd".

Preparing the Image: Photoshop Elements

Below are the steps for creating the alphabet flash card images with Adobe Photoshop Elements 4.0 or 3.0.

  1. Select an image to represent the alphabet letter.
  2. Open the image in Photoshop Elements.

    Command: File arrow Open

  3. Rotate image, if necessary.

    Command: Image arrow Rotate

  4. Make any photo editing, enhancing, color correction, etc., as desired.
  5. Crop the image into 3 x 4 proportions. This will take up half of a 6 x 4 card.

    Commands:
    • Click the Crop Tool
    • On toolbar enter "3 in" for Width and "4 in" for Height
    • Drag mouse over the area of the image that you want to keep and hit Enter

  6. Select and copy the final image.

    Command: Click Rectangular Marquee Tool, drag mouse over entire image to select, Edit arrow Copy

  7. Create a new, blank image which will hold the completed flash card.

    Command: File arrow New arrow Blank File, and in the "New" dialog enter the following:
    • Width: 6 in
    • Height: 4 in
    • Resolution: 300 pixels/inch

  8. Insert a solid color layer as the background of the left side.

    Command: Layer arrow New Fill Layer arrow Solid Color, accept the layer name and choose a color

  9. Paste the image you copied in step 6 into a layer of the blank image.

    Command: Edit arrow Paste

  10. Size and move the image as needed, so it occupies the right half of the card.

    Command: Click the Move Tool, drag image to move or drag image corners while holding Shift to size, as needed

  11. Insert a text box in the top left corner, containing the upper case alphabet letter.

    Commands:
    • Click the Horizontal Type Tool (T)
    • On toolbar click the Color box and choose white as the text color
    • On toolbar select Arial Black as font and enter 140 as font size
    • Click on image to start typing and enter your text
    • When finished typing, click on the Move Tool and position text box as desired

  12. Insert a text box in the middle left, containing the word. Commands: See above, except enter 48 as font size.
  13. Insert a text box in the bottom right corner of the left side, containing the lower case alphabet letter. Commands: See above, except enter 60 as font size.
  14. Add a drop shadow to all text layers.

    Commands:
    • Select text layer by clicking in the Layers palette
    • In the Styles and Effects palette chose Layer Styles and Drop Shadows
    • Click on Soft Edge to apply shadow to the text
    • Repeat steps for each text layer

  15. Save image with a unique name, such as "Flash Card - A.psd".

    Command: File arrow Save As, select folder in which to save, enter file name

Printing the Alphabet Flash Cards

Once you have all of the alphabet images prepared, you are ready to print them. If you have a digital photo printer at home, load it with thick 4x6" photo paper, make sure you have plenty of ink, and start printing.

If you don't have a printer at home, convert all images into JPEG format by opening them, select File arrow Save As, and choose JPG or JPEG as the file format. This step is necessary because most digital photo developing services only accept JPEG image files. Now you are ready to burn the JPEG images to CD for local developing or upload them via the Internet for online developing.