Mafe Maria: Personal stories by autism parent mentor, Maria Stultz

DIY chunky alphabet flash cards in Spanish

Without much effort on our part, and perhaps thanks to the educational videos Joaquin watches every day, our almost two–year–old bollito has moved on from learning the numbers 1 to 10, to now show a huge interest in the alphabet, and as of today, he knows the letters A, B, D, G, I, K, M, N, O, P, Q, T, U, and V.

And when your child is thirsty, you give him something to drink. So, I got him an ABC book, and mom gave him an ABC toy, and every time we read, he demands emphasis on letters, so we teach and show him letters with every–day things, but the crafter in me also wanted to make Spanish ABC flash cards — chunky ones, so they could withstand the wear and tear inflicted by an almost two–year–old who still manages to bend pages on board books.

The set is not complete, but because the length of the project was hurting my creative energy and bringing me down, I decided to finish the ones I had started and put them in service ASAP.

DIY alphabet flash cards in Spanish

The project started by taking photos of favorite toys and things that are very familiar to Joaquin. I designed each card with Photoshop, and printed them in glossy photo paper (four cards fitting in a letter-size sheet). I rounded all corners with my sweet little punch.

DIY alphabet flash cards in Spanish

Then I cut matting board (the thickest and sturdiest thing I could find at home) to each card size. Because Kiki is always focusing on the largest letters he can see, I thought of a double–sided design, with capital letters displayed large in a not–too–ornate serif font, on the back of the photos. I fit several letters in a single sheet of self-adhesive paper, then I cut each letter and affixed it to the matting board.

DIY alphabet flash cards in Spanish

I wish I had thought of self-adhesive photo paper too, but I’m always coming up with the best shortcuts after the fact. So I had to spray adhesive on the back of each photo card and bind it to the mat boards. I rounded the corners of the matting board with scissors, and then smoothed them with a soft file. And finally, I did an extra step I wish I hadn’t done… I applied a coat of “Preserve It”, a spray product meant to protect photos… I’m still smelling the chemical on my baby’s cards. Ugh!

DIY alphabet flash cards in Spanish

Now I must take a break before making the second batch. Operating the mat cutter takes a lot of muscle, and I ended up with a sore right arm and shoulder (I’m in such great shape!) Of course, self-adhesive photo paper will be the material of choice for the letters missing. Thank you very much messy spray can…


  1. On , Mello wrote:

    Those cards look so beautiful! Good Job!
    Though I can only recommend to laminate them, especially since you put so much work in them. I work with cards like that with kids, and it was always a good choice to laminate them before handing them to the kids.

  2. On , Maria wrote:

    I think you’re right Mello… Thank you!… I was hoping to skip that last step, hoping that he won’t damage them too bad… Ah! But deep inside I know that those honey and banana fingers get everywhere :)

  3. On , anne marie wrote:

    WOW these are great. i will have to think of doing something like this for my DS in the future.

  4. On , Maria wrote:

    Thank you Anne Marie!… Best of luck with the project — when the time comes :)

    BTW, I just checked your blog and think that your son is adorable. I also love the beautiful quality of your photos! Oh wait! I had seen your photos before!…  Just hadn’t seen the most recent ones. Good to “see” you again! He he!

  5. On , liliana Chacon-Menay wrote:

    Mi Mafe…
    These are beautiful!!!!! I keep waiting for the moment when you are discovered and you become a brand to be reckoned with!!!

  6. On , Maria wrote:

    Me too!!! HA! HA!… Gracias, linda :)

  7. On , KSR wrote:

    These are awesome! Very beautiful……I suspect you’ll want to laminate….what a great job….someday Kiki will appreciate what aclever mommie he has…..I know he already appreciates it, but it will take some years for him to understand what care and thought and time go into everything you do……

  8. On , Maria wrote:

    Thank you Kim :)
    Those are nice words I was needing today. I’m going through a creative low… Oh well, hopefully it will go away…

  9. On , amparo wrote:

    tu creatividad, solo necesita motivos….y Joaquin te los vive dando en cada situacion….defintivamente estas tarjetas seran muy efectivas, y sobre todo porque tu eres la profesora que el anhela cada dia…

  10. On , Maria wrote:

    Si nanin. Yo siempre he dicho que el bollo me inspira y limita al mismo tiempo. Que paradoja mas berraca! Ja! ja!

  11. On , Jennifer wrote:

    Very nice. I know about the matte cutter – had one once for school projects. Pain-in-the-butt. I wonder: can you just have your local art supply store cut it for you? Or, go to a Kinkos-or-whatever-they’re-called-these-days and have them do it? I would also wonder if someone sells precut matte board squares, maybe online…

  12. On , Maria wrote:

    Yep! That’s exactly why I got the mat cutter: So I could frame art work for school projects.

    I’m sure anyone would charge me to make the cuts. I would bet that the charge would be higher than I’d be willing to pay since I can do the work at home. But yes: If I didn’t have the mat cutter, I would consider that, or as you say, I also found online places that sell pre–cut matting sheets.

    I’m pretty sure I saw packages of letter-size mat board. I think they had maybe one smaller size?… can’t remember, but since in this project I was also trying to optimize the photo paper, I prefer the quarter–of–a –letter–size format. I’m not sure that the online providers offered that specific size. So still, I would have to do some cuts myself, but they would be shorter and easier.

    Good ideas, though… You’re always coming up with alternate ways :)

  13. On , Jennifer wrote:

    Yeah, they might. I figure you could still round the corners and just get someone to use their high-end paper cutter.

    There’s also 4×6 matte board you can buy, without the opening cut. I mean, all those 4×6 mattes have to start somewhere. :)

    You’re just sooooo much more patient than I am ;). Once my hand starts hurting, I’m all : NO MORE.

  14. On , Debbie wrote:

    These cards are so wonderful! A fabulous learning tool. If you haven’t found it yet, 3M’s got some new adhesive backed papers for crafting that you might like – Post-it craft paper comes in lots of colors and can be printed on…the print quality is quite good…no need for photo paper.

    Would definitely recommend laminating to protect them.

  15. On , Maria wrote:

    Thank you for that tip, Debbie. I’ll look for that paper next time I’m at the office supplies store.