Lesson Tutor: American Sign Language (ASL) Alphabet Flash Cards and more!

Learning American Sign Language (ASL): Using Alphabet Flash Cards
By Elaine Ernst Schneider and Joanne Mikola

To become familiar with the sign letters used by the hearing impaired.

Make your own or purchase a set of ASL alphabet flash cards. For example, we have a double set of alphabet cards available through the LT Store, that you can download, and print immediately. We would recommend any number of  the following options to preserve the life of the cards.

1. If your printer has the capability to pull through cardstock (60 lb), use it! This prevents seeing the images through the paper.

2. If you or your children are the least bit crafty, print out the cards, trim excess paper, paste onto cereal box cardboard, then cut along the lines.

3. For a set of cards impervious to spilled pop and dirty fingers: print on cardstock, cut out each card individually, then laminate them, leaving a wide border to ensure a secure seal between each. Office supply stores (Kinkos, Staples, etc.) will provide this service on a per page basis. Amazon.com sells a variety of mini laminators that may just be the handiest purchase you make this year (right after the hot glue gun or the can of spray adhesive!)

Sample Activities: 

1. Mix up all the alphabet flashcards. Allow the student to become familiar with the signs by making the alphabet sign and then placing it on a table in order. For example, draw out the card for B. Make the sign for B, carefully matching the picture on the card. Place the card on the table. Draw another card. Perhaps this card is H. Make the sign for H. Place it on the table after B. (Were the next card an A, it would go before the B.) Continue until all cards are on the table in order. Then sign the alphabet, looking at the cards if need be, in order.

2. Mix up the alphabet flashcards. One by one, hold each card in a manner that covers the letter notation. The student must call out the alphabet letter that matches the sign. Once recognition is consistent except for a few, place the cards that are identified correctly in a pile but put the cards that are incorrectly identified back in the deck to be examined again. Continue with the activity until all cards have been identified and placed in the pile.

3. This activity requires two decks of ASL flashcards. Mix up the alphabet flashcards. Place them face down in rows on a table. A game may be played that is similar to “Concentration.” The first player turns over two cards, perhaps a D and an S. The player should try to remember where they are and then turn them back over, face down. The next player may then turn over two cards, for example, F and Z. Again, the object is to concentrate on where those two cards are so that they can be found again. Mental notes should be made of the signs that correspond to the letters. For example, the player might say to him/herself, “That is an F and it is found on the second row, second to the right.” The card is then replaced face down. Then the next player turns over his or her first card. Suppose it is a D. The object is for the player to remember where the D was from the first round and turn it over to “match.” If he or she is successful, the pair of cards goes to his or her pile. After all cards have been paired, each player counts his or her pairs and must make the appropriate signs for each letter represented on the flashcards.

With younger children, the sign language flash cards might be combined to reinforce phonics lessons. Try this activity:

Mix up the ASL alphabet flash cards. Ask your child to close his or her eyes and draw a flashcard from the pile. Look around the room and help your child select a word that emphasizes the phonetic sound that letter can represent. Concentrate on nouns – persons, places, and things. For instance, for the letter “d,” you might name dog, dollar, dot, desk, and door. Make the sign for the letter. As familiarity with the signs increases, you may want to try spelling some of the items that you name in their entirety. For example, you might first make the sign for “D” when you name “dog.” After practice, you and your child may wish to spell “d-o-g.”

Sample Cards:

Available in the printable flashcard format in the Lesson Tutor Store:

Other ASL resources available for purchase in the Shop@LT include:

  • Sign a Phrase of Prasie a Day
  • Toddler Tasks in Simple Signs
  • Introducing ASL to Preschool – K Learners
  • Preschool – K Songs Adapted for ASL
  • Sign and Sing a Song for Christmas Volumes 1, 2, and 3
  • O Canada! Adapted for ASL
  • The Pledge of Allegiance and God Bless America Adapted for ASL
  • Boy Scout Oath and Pledges; Law, adapted for Signs
  • Girl Guide Promise and Law Adapted for ASL Signs
  • Classic Camp Songs Adapted for ASL
  • Amazing Grace Adapted for ASL
  • I’ll Fly Away Adapted for ASL
  • The Lord’s Prayer (SE) and the 10 Commandments (ASL)
  • 23rd Psalm Adapted for ASL
  • Sunday Songs and Prayers Adapted for ASL
  • Sunday Songs and Pledges Adapted for ASL
  • … and more!

Submitted by:  Elaine Ernst Schneider entered the classroom as a special education teacher in the 1970’s. Since then, she has taught mainstream English Grammar, Literature, music K-12, deaf education, psychology, Algebra, creative writing, social studies, law, and science in both public and private schools. Presently, Elaine is a curriculum author for multiple educational publishers and is the managing editor of Lesson Tutor, a lesson plan website found at https://www.lessontutor.com. Her most recent books, 52 Children’s Moments (Synergy Publications) and Taking Hearing Impairment to School (JayJo Books and the Guidance Channel) can be found at Amazon.com. She is currently working on a project with Pearson Prentice Hall as an author of an on-line teacher’s professional development course for the Council for Exceptional Children.

More Articles by this author, Click Here
More lessons in American Sign Language,  Click Here