Meet the Creator Jan Shandera

We had the opportunity to interview Jan Shandera to hear about the creative process behind her card deck called “Mnemonic Letter Flashcards”. The title is pronounced: ne-mon-ic and was inspired by a third-grade student, let’s call him Sandy, who had a difficult time learning most of the alphabet sounds. Jan shares about the first time meeting Sandy, “When I met him he stood before me with his head hung, unable to look me in the eye. I was a special education teacher at the time and was not allowed access to his special education records. The staff were puzzled about how to help him. He looked so sad, so embarrassed, and had so little self-esteem.”


About The Design

Jan had read about how the “mnemonic alphabet” had been discovered to be the best method to help kids learn letter sounds. “In a mnemonic alphabet, the letter is an integral part of the picture and this is supposed to make it more memorable. I concluded this was the way to start helping Sandy, but I couldn’t find such an alphabet anywhere. So I started making one for him.”  Jan was able to create the card design using the Adobe Illustrator program. “Using it, I could change shapes easily, dragging points. I don’t consider myself to be an artist, don’t feel I can easily visualize and then draw. The computer frees me to design and ‘fix’ until it looks right. I’m not a graphic designer. I did a lot of color sampling to come up with the brightest, most attractive colors I could.”


Helping Develop Important Skills With Creativity

“I began working with Sandy in late September, it seems like it was just three days a week for 30 minutes and later 60 minutes. As he learned letter sounds, he learned to sound out words and begin reading. By Thanksgiving, he was not only a beginning reader but accomplished his first-ever independent writing. His classroom teacher shared with me a copy of his written response to an assignment, and said he had carefully sounded out his words! I still have it. When I left, Sandy could proudly look me in the eye. It was so rewarding to help this child.”



Issues Faced During The Design Process

Jan first faced issues during the creation process, as she explained “Creating a mnemonic alphabet is a challenge because letters just don’t magically look like an object you can illustrate while keeping the letter as part of the picture. When it comes to vowels, there’s only a limited number of words that start with a pure short vowel sound. Many vowels are slightly altered by the following consonant.” She also had to figure out how to design the “X” card as “I had to put the x at the end of that picture. Think about it, a xylophone starts with a z sound. X-ray doesn’t work, either (it starts with the short e sound ‘eks’).”

The next issue she faced was with the printing process. “At first I printed and laminated my cards myself. Printing at home is fraught with frustrations since I’m a perfectionist. If the printing went well, then there were the bubbles and such with the lamination to deal with. I wanted them to look professional so I could share them with others. Getting the colors right was a challenge too, as was making sure that all parts kept their proper size in relation to the other parts. The letters all had to be traced. Now I don’t have to worry about all that!

Introducing The Deck To Others

“My granddaughter was only 2 or 3 years old when I gave her a deck of my letters. It was such a delight to watch her play with them. She had her favorites, especially p-pig, and m-mouse, and would exclaim their names when she found them in the deck. She was just so tickled with them! It was playing for her, but she was learning letter names and sounds at a very early age. I love the photos I took of her playing with them.”

If you would like to learn more about Jan’s journey and her wonderful site click here:


Working With Shuffled Ink

We asked Jan about her experience working with Shuffled Ink and here is what she had to say, “I researched a variety of companies online and asked for samples. I liked the quality of the samples from Shuffled Ink. It was a big step for me, but everyone at Shuffled Ink treated me like I was one of the family. When the first order came, they were perfect. Now I’m on my third order!”


About Shuffled Ink

Shuffled Ink is a multigenerational family business that specializes in printing custom playing cards, tarot & flash cards, custom card games, packaging and more for businesses and individuals worldwide.

To receive complimentary samples of our card products, either follow this link or please include your delivery address and phone number on your custom quote request form.

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