Forget the diamonds, Flashcards are a homeschooling mom’s best friend (well at least this homeschooling mom)
If someone were to ask me personally what I thought the best aid or tool for homeschooling was, I think that I would probably say flashcards. They are cheap, you can make them yourself and they provide a quick way for reviewing and learning concepts.
Flashcards can be used for any subject
I use flashcards for just about every subject from math, language arts to Islamic Studies. Some days when we don’t do “school” we use the flashcards and I still feel like we have learned something that day. My kids love flashcards. I have been having a little trouble with my 8 and 9 year olds as far as reading and my 14 y ear old, my first reader, asked me, “Ummy, what happened to the phonics flashcards you used to do with me, they worked really well.” I think he’s right. We used to do them everyday and I think it helped to cement the sounds of the phonemes more easily with him.
Making review with flashcards fun and interesting
And I have learned that you can turn boring flashcard review into fun games and activities. With the phonics flashcards I mentioned earlier, I used to try to come up with different activities so that review wasn’t boring. I have found that you need to really review concepts daily with kids to make it stick. Sometimes I would lay the cards out and say a sound and he would point to the card that made that sound. It wasn’t me just flashing the cards. With Arabic letter cards that I made, I played a game with one of my kids where I would hold the card up in the air and then he had to guess the letter before I could lower it to the ground, that was a winner. Sometimes I try to make the activities fit a particular theme or subject we are working on in another class.
For my older kids, I make flashcards with questions or activities on them so that they can use them on their own for review. For language arts I might write a card that says look around the room and find five nouns and write them, write the birthdates or initials of everyone in your family. These kinds of cards are great for days when we do otherwise nothing.
Flashcards can work with just about any age
And I use flashcards for the littler ones too. We sit down and I ask them questions off the cards. I try to include activities that require them to think independently rather than just rattle off facts. For Islamic Studies, we are learning the names of prayers and so times of the day comes into play. So we learned the Arabic terms for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and I ask them, what did you have for ghadaa today, etc. For younger children, of course, picture flashcards are nice as well, but I find that if I sit down with them and do them, whether they have pictures or not, they enjoy that time Alhamdulillah. My two year old one day startled me when he said “Allah is the Creator” and then promptly told me he wanted to do school and ran to the flashcard box. I hadn’t done the flashcards with him, but he had been around when I did them with the five year olds and he has picked up a few things, masha Allah.
Keeping up with your flashcards and keeping your flashcards up
Flashcards are indeed handy for us, but can be a headache to keep track of and take care of. Here are a few things that have worked well for us.
1. Of course, rule # 1, lamination is a must! I just use contact paper these days. I accidently bought what I thought was clear contact paper and it was clear, but had a little design on it, didn’t matter though, you could still see through them.
2. For my toddler’s animal flashcards, I laminated them of course, and punched a hole in each corner and then tied them together with yarn so that they stay together. It’s a little harder to do them randomly, but keeps them together—it’s even harder to do them at all when you don’t have them, lol. By the way, the animal cards and some shape flashcards can be found on my Language Arts >>Arabic >> Vocabulary page at TJ.
3. I have begun to make pouches for the cards. I just take a rectangular piece of paper and fold it in have and staple the edges. Then I take a box big enough to hold them and just keep the cards in their pouches in the box. It has worked really well. I have many lessons and materials at TJ that include flashcards and pouches, from math to Islamic Studies.
Of course you can always buy professionally made flashcards, but I think the best resource may often be yourself. You can tailor the flashcards to suit your particular needs and studies. You can also find some places on line to print flashcards for a variety of different subjects. One place is the flashcard exchange where members make flashcards and share them.
Basic Flashcards to have or make
I suggest making or getting the following flashcard packs and holding on to them because as the next kids come along, they will be useful and great if they are already made on hand:
· Alphabet Cards
· Phonics Cards (e.g. ue, ew, sh)
· High frequency words flashcards (the, is, we, etc)
· Math flashcards (addition, subtraction, multiplication, division). Its also a good idea to make some activity cards to practice concepts (greater than, less than, ordering, ordinal numbers)
And hold on to any other packs that you make/purchase. Somehow I lost those great phonics flashcards I made in the early days of homeschooling and wish I still had them.
Links:Lesson sense has some tips on using flashcards with your child/student: http://www.lessonsense.com/general/flashcards.html The Flashcard Exchange has loads of flashcards that you can download, submitted by members:http://www.flashcardexchange.com/They have over 10 million flashcards and they do have a free account option.