When I used to think of flashcards I thought about cramming for a test, or boring memorization of facts. I never really understood how to use flashcards with kids or why they were even effective with kids. I imagined trying to sit across the table from my 3 year old holding up one card after another drilling him on his ABC’s and him squirming off by the letter D. I never learned well this way, and that’s why I’ve fallen in love with learning creative ways to allow my kids to interact with a subject matter and learn through exploration and play. I’m so thankful for the opportunity to implement creative learning in our homeschool!
I am new to learning about different teaching philosophies, but I am drawn towards Montessori Education, from the aspect of discovery, where students learn concepts from working with materials, rather than by direct instruction. To me, seeing, touching, manipulating, exploring, and experiencing a subject matter creates memories, ideas, and conclusions. Learning is but a natural side effect.
I have been encouraged by this method to step outside the textbook, or in this case, flashcard, and find fun, interactive ways to allow my children to learn through experience. Flashcards have now been transformed from a flat, lifeless card to a touchable, movable, manipulative that interacts with their environment and other objects.
Here a just a few ways we’ve taken the flashcard from flat to fun!
This is first example is by far my favorite, the “clothesline”. I think that the added experience of “hanging” and seeing their work suspended in air gives that extra bit of excitement and eagerness to add to what has been set before them. Figuring out things like what letter or number comes next, or matching lower and uppercase letters (as in this example) becomes less of a “test” and more of a puzzle, allowing them to anticipate what the line will look like when completed.
Here we used our Montessori Sandpaper Letters which are awesome for tracing over with your finger while saying the letter sound. This allows your child to experience the sight, sound, AND feel of the letter, further reiterating it. Feeling the letter will also help with the future motions needed in order to write each letter when handwriting becomes necessary.
These next “flashcards” are fun because they are larger than normal, and their illustrations are bold and colorful. I purchased these, DwellStudio Alphabet Wall Cards, at the MOMA while in NYC visiting my sister, but I’ve also seen them here on Amazon.com. The cards are double sided as well allowing you to display both sides.
Currently, I have them hanging in our school room, but they are easily taken down to be studied and held. Their size, along with the fact that they are nice and sturdy, makes for a great game of “Mine and Yours”, where you hold up the card and ask the child to make the letter sound and if they get it right the card is theirs (yours), but if they get it wrong the card is yours (mine). Thanks to some great books on beginning reading I have learned the importance focusing more on letter sounds and less on recognition.
The following are a few activities we’ve done using our Number Flashcards. Along with lining the cards up in numerical order, we’ve also put them in order going up or down the stairs, counting objects along the way or (pictured here) stamping the amount of dots represented by each number with our DO-A-DOT Markers.
Flashcards have also been helpful as we begin to learn how to count coins. This was a helpful way for my son to visualize different ways to add coins equaling the amount on the card.
These are just a few examples of different ways that we use our flashcards. Hopefully they have sparked your imagination and helped you develop some unconventional, interactive flashcard fun of your own.
Please share some of your ideas in the comment section below!
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