In preschool we learn through play and imagination. Children love to tell stories. Picture cards are an organic way to strengthen children’s natural language development.

Picture cards should be simple drawings. Your child can make the cards with you. It’s best to use something a bit thicker than paper. Cardstock or index cards cut in half work well.

Don’t get hung up on the drawings, stick figures are fine! Because we are starting to work with language it’s best to label the cards with a word in all capital letters. As in the picture above, the main element on the card should be the picture. If it’s a picture of a flower put the word FLOWER on the top or bottom of the card, and so on. It’s not for reading. Young children will get the idea that things are represented by words. Use whatever you have at home. I like colored markers, but crayons and pencils will also do the trick.

Simple is best. Draw things in your child’s everyday world…

ball, flower, cat, dog, bird, chair, bed, plate, cup, parent, friend, teddy bear, sun, cloud, rain, shovel, pail, cape, hat, trees, bug…the list is endless but a mix of things, animals, people, and atmosphere (wind, rain, sun) work best for simple stories. A stick figure labeled PERSON, can be use as any person your child wants. The cards should be simple.

Once you have a collection of cards, it’s time to play.

I recommend limiting each player to selecting 3 or 4 cards to start. Here’s how it works…

You can talk a bit about stories. For example, we need to know who, did what, and what happened. For a picture of a child, a dog, and a house – we could say…

“A BOY found a DOG and brought him into the HOUSE.” Your child will need to put the cards in that order while telling the story.

Add in a RAIN card and you might have “The DOG ran out in the RAIN. The BOY brought him back into the HOUSE.”

Kids love to make rambling stories and that can be fun. But if you start off with allowing each person to pick a few cards – you can focus on a beginning, middle, and end for each story.

Another way to use story card is to allow each person to add a card to the story. Lay all the cards out on the floor face up so each child/adult can glance over them to pick the next element in the story. Older children can play with the cards face down. Then they have to be creative to work each card into the story they are building.

Kids love to make rambling stories and that can be fun. But if you start off with allowing each person to pick a few cards – you can focus on a beginning, middle, and end for each story.

Another way to use story card is to allow each person to add a card to the story. Lay all the cards out on the floor face up so each child/adult can glance over them to pick the next element in the story. Older children can play with the cards face down. Then they have to be creative to work each card into the story they are building.