To preview what Goosie Cards are, visit their web site at GoosieCards.com.
As we’ve chronicled in recent posts (see “My God, He IS Reading!”, “Roy G. Biv”), our son is all about his flash cards lately. They’re not going to displace the Sacred Wooden Letter Blocks of Steadfast Security and Comfort anytime soon, but flash cards are a cornerstone of many of his most important learning activities.
We recently discovered that – at age 3! – he can read many sight word cards (see above posts and “The $64,000 Question…” – and note that he’s trying to read people’s t-shirts now), so Mary and I are all about finding as many different kinds of cards as we can to build on these wonderful skills he’s suddenly developed.
So, in what proved to be a timely e-mail, I was contacted by Tom Stein, COO of Goosie Cards, who asked if I would be interested in trying out some of their cards and reviewing them. This was right up our alley and a great opportunity to try something new with the J-Man, so of course I agreed.
I looked at their web site before the cards arrived and was immediately intrigued (go look now if you haven’t already) but you can’t really appreciate what you’re getting until you hold a Goosie Card in your hand. Once you do, you know immediately that these are light-years beyond the flash cards you get at the store.
Goosie Card (left) next to other flash cards of two other brands.
The cards are practically bomb-proof. The card stock and lamination are of a quality, thickness, and durability unparalleled by anything I’ve ever seen. I think the only way to make them more durable would be to manufacture them out of slate or paving stone. While nothing is technically indestructible in the hands of a toddler, I don’t know whether anyone – child or adult – could put even a nick on them without using scissors or a hacksaw.
Also the cards are very large, which is great for smaller hands. Stick a regular flash card in your kid’s hand and notice how even little hands will cover up part of what’s on the card. Goosie Cards are about as wide and a good inch taller than a paperback book, approaching double the size of the average flash card. For that matter, they feel big in adult hands too.
Goosie Card vs. a paperback book.
The roomy card size allows you to have big pictures on the top with plenty of room left over for big text and white space on the bottom half of the card. J-Man could hold the cards in a normal grip and still see everything on the card, which makes teaching a lot easier.
J-Man actually said ‘mouth’ while looking at the mouth picture on the card – which he’s never done before – because well, the picture is a big mouth. It was great to see him connect the ‘mouth’ on a real face he normally talks about with the picture. In general, there’s no need to guess what a picture is on a Goosie Card because they are big, of excellent quality, and easy to see.
Given the amazing quality of materials and a rock-solid end product, I would bet that Goosie Cards would last through the child you’re buying them for, all the siblings that might come after them, and those children could probably even hand them down to their own children.
Goosie Cards come either in ready-made packs (ABCs, parts of the body, etc.) or the create-your-own option.
Samples of the ABCs cards.
With the custom, create-your-own cards option, you can either use the free photos available on their site or you can upload your own and use their online tools to make your cards truly custom to you and your child.
It works more or less like a basic version of Shutterfly. The online card-creation process is a bit awkward at first, but once you get over the initial hump, it goes fairly smoothly. I jotted down a few notes about this and will put up some suggestions in a future post. Those will definitely make your card-creation experience smoother.
With our custom order, we made cards for members of our family, as associating people with their names and getting him to refer to them by name is something we’re working hard on. These cards have really helped us with that. We saw an immediate increase in his recognition and communication for people and names!
Hi! Bonus feature – you can pick more flattering pictures of yourself, particularly from when you were younger. 🙂
Not surprisingly, you will have to pay more than you’re likely used to in order to get this kind of quality, though. About the first and only concern about Goosie Cards is cost. The ready-made packs range from $16 for 10 cards (e.g., 123s) to $28 for 20 cards (e.g., Favorite Foods) to $32 for 26 cards (e.g. ABCs). The custom, create-your-own cards range from $28 for 10 cards, $40 for 20 cards, and $46 for 26 cards. Gift certificates tack on $6 to the custom card price so the person receiving the gift doesn’t have to pay shipping on their order. All prices are in U.S. Dollars.
I thought about these pricing concerns at two levels. The first objection I thought people would have was, “I could make something myself a lot cheaper than that.” We’ve been making our own cards at home for so long that this was my automatic reaction too.
For PECS pictures, we’ve been taking digital photos, printing them at Target, and laminating them on our cheap home laminator. (I can print and laminate pictures for about 20-25 cents each.) You can also buy individual, sealable picture sleeves at an office supply store that are much thicker than what you can generate from a home laminator. However, they aren’t cheap – about 50 cents or so per sleeve – and even with the thicker lamination, they don’t remotely come close to Goosie Cards in durability.
Similarly, for flash cards, we’ve been buying packs at the dollar store or Target and laminating them. (I can buy and laminate about 100 cards for a few bucks.) This keeps them from being torn and mangled, but that’s about it. There’s an air of disposability here in that at a few cents per card, if your kid destroys them, you just go get more. This gets old after a while though, especially if you find cards that work really well or if your kid becomes very attached to certain ones and you can’t find replacements. Yes, that’s from experience.
The second potential objection is more on the lines of, “These are awesome cards, but do we really need something that good?” This is something you’ll have to answer for yourself, but it’s one I do wrestle with here.
In response to this, to help with our strained budgets, Goosie Cards is demonstrating their commitment to us by offering 15% discounts to anyone using their cards for educational purposes, in our case with our special needs children. All you need to do is fill out this form, send it in, and get your discount, which is good on every order you make from then on.
Goosie Cards has become keenly aware of how flash cards and pictures are a critical part of the learning and communication processes of not just autistic children but special needs kids in general. The commitment and energy they’ve invested into learning how they can improve their products to help address the challenges our children face is refreshing. In an industry of mass-produced cards cranked out by largely impersonal companies, the hands-on, personal touch of Goosie Cards offers parents like us educational tools we can use with our children that we simply can’t get anywhere else.
Goosie Cards as a company deserves the praise they receive. They are committed to producing top-notch products with a personal touch. Even beyond this, what struck me in my conversations with COO Tom Stein was how much of what he said centered on people first. In every way that I’ve seen, Goosie Cards is driven by their mission to help parents, teachers, and professionals who work with children to provide every possible learning opportunity they can. Their energy and excitement about their work is contagious, and the end result is a fantastic product.
In the end, the final verdict comes from my son. As I said above, we used our custom card order to make pictures of family members so we could work with him on learning and saying the names of people in our family. In just a short time, he was telling us who Mommy and Daddy were, trying to say the names of his grandparents, and also recognizing himself and saying his own name. This may not sound like much to your average parent, but this is a huge step forward for us. It’s hard to put any price tag on that after your child has worked so hard for so long to talk and communicate.
If the custom cards are a bit steep for your budget, I highly recommend the already-made cards from their product line. We have the ABCs and Head to Toe packs, and they are excellent. If you consider the per-card price and the fact that these cards may very well outlast your grandchildren, I personally think this is a great bargain if your budget allows.
If you’re hesitant to get them for yourself, take advantage of the holiday season or your child’s birthday and ask your family and friends to get you a gift certificate for some Goosie Cards, available through their web site at GoosieCards.com. You can’t go wrong with fantastic learning tools that will last forever from an admirable company whose commitment to children will positively impact the lives of families everywhere.
Goosie Cards Rating: A-
Pros: Outstanding quality and made from premium materials; large cards mean everything is easy to see and great for young hands; option to customize your own cards in a multitude of ways to meet your kid’s needs; discounts available for educators and parents of special needs children; company with a personal touch that’s driven to continually look for new and better ways to help children. Plus, if you can make something as common and unexciting as flash cards new and creative again, you’ve really accomplished something.
Cons: Not much. Sticker price can be hard on the budget (15% discount is available, though) but expect this to improve in the future; making custom cards through their site can be a bit awkward at first, but works pretty well once you get the hang of it.
Bonus for getting to the end of this article – Take a look at the Goosie Cards Curriculum Program for ideas on how to use the cards with your children. It’s a great resource for how best to use flash cards in general.
Bonus #2 – Tom says free shipping until 12/31! That’s about a $6 value. And be sure to watch their site for major announcements in January.
Coming soon – I made some notes as I went through the card creation process. So I’ll write up some hints on how to design your cards with an autistic toddler’s learning needs in mind.
Disclosure and all that: Goosie Cards’ Chief Operating Officer Tom Stein contacted me to see if I was interested in reviewing samples of their products. I agreed, and they sent me two ready-made packs – the ABCs (not surprisingly, 26 cards) and parts of the body (10 cards). He also sent me a gift certificate for 10 custom cards that I could create myself through their web site.