My love for flashcards is quite odd–given my educational philosophy I should hate them, but I don’t.  I love flashcards—all kinds of flashcards:  picture cards, vocabulary cards, sight words, math facts, formulas, science information, social studies stuff.  I love them all.  There are SO many things you can do with flashcards.  Any game you can play, you can play with flashcards.  They can make rehearsing very boring information fun and entertaining, and they make the information the students need to learn very specific, clear, and direct.  You can use them at school, at home, on the playground, in your bath tub, with your family, your friends, and by yourself.  My love of flashcards started in first grade.

I always wanted to grow up to be just like my first grade teacher, Mrs. Jenkins.  She was the coolest lady around.  No matter what happened she never got upset, loud, or flustered.  She was calm, cool, collected 99.9% of the time.  (There was that one time though, when we were standing in line outside waiting for her, and Jimmy–you know who I mean–was fooling around doing I know not what, and when Mrs. Jenkins walked out of her classroom door she RAISED HER VOICE!!!  “Uh!!!”  The whole class sucked air in astonishment.  That was the only time.  Mrs. Jenkins was one cool cookie.

We used flashcards in Mrs. Jenkins class.  Each month she made a seasonal set of sight word flashcards to play with.  The one I remember the most was at Christmas time.  We had a shiny green paper Christmas tree about as tall as us.  We had to reach for the top.  Each of our sight words was printed on a shiny paper ornament made out of wrapping paper and glued onto tag board.  When it was our turn we chose a card, she gave us a card, or someone else picked a card for us.  If we read it correctly we got to hang it on the tree, or take it off the tree.  I couldn’t wait for reading group time so we could play with the flashcards.  Sometimes she even let us play if we finished all our other work–then I could rearrange the flashcards to make sentences, and little bits of stories.

That’s when my love for flashcards began.  It ended in second grade when we used flashcards only for math and we had to do the same old boring repetition with them every day.  It never changed.  Math facts. Only.  Daily.  Over and over.  BORING!  I never thought about flashcards again until I got my first job at the day care center.  I was teaching Spanish to four-year-olds.  We were learning the parts of the body and it was getting close to October.  One day at nap time I remembered Mrs. Jenkins’ Christmas tree.  That would be fun, I thought.  I made a felt Bruja (witch) for the flannel board.  All the parts of her body were removable so we could choose a body part, say the name in Spanish and start to build la Bruja.  It WAS fun!  The children played with it even when it wasn’t Spanish time.  They learned, too.  Quickly.  Laughingly.  Excitedly.  From then on I’ve used flashcards for just about everything even when they aren’t on cards and I don’t flash them.  I even used flashcards with middle school boys.   No kidding.

Do you use flashcards? Have your kids make some Valentine_Hearts_Art_Directions and have fun playing with them!

Get a copy of Flashcard Games.

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