Flashcards – the timeless learning tool that we have all loved and hated at some point in our educational experience. As a teacher, I can see the value in flashcards if only as a point of departure for daily review, which is the key to success in school, in my experience. Here are some ways to be inventive with flashcards, taking learning to a higher level.
1. Have the child make their own flashcards. Sure, mommy’s will look nicer, but the actual process of creating the flashcard – finding or drawing a picture and writing the word, if they are able to – is learning in itself. As a high school Spanish teacher, I always have my students make their own flashcards as the first step in the process of mastering new vocabulary (FYI: always with a picture and the Spanish word, not English, to de-emphasize direct translation and focus on thinking in the target language)
2. Be creative. Find pictures in magazines, draw pictures, glue items on the card, use foam stickers, make the cards glittery – all of these creative touches help to create interest in the activity far more than simply purchasing a pre-printed set of cards in a store. Searching for pictures of animals in the National Geographic is a learning experience in itself. As you go the magazine pictures, you can talk about habitats, what other animals live in the same region, and so on.
3. Make flashcards fun. Make it a game – put several number cards on the table and have your child try to put them in order in a certain amount of time. Allow an older sibling to “teach” the younger one – it fun and a good review for both. Tape the color cards to objects in your home that are the same color. Show an animal card and have your child say the name and act like the animal! There are many ways to make the learning fun – don’t just flash the card and move on if you can help it!
Flashcards can be a fun and helpful learning tool when used creatively with young children. Avoid rote memorization and the drudgery of simply flashing and repeating by making up games and getting your child involved in the creation of their flashcards. You will take the learning to a higher level and keep your child interested and motivated to learn.