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When our oldest child attended school she came home many evenings with lists of words or stacks of flash cards to practice. I learned to dread the little evening rituals of recitation. For one reason, she dreaded it immensely herself, and for another reason the facts never seem to stick regardless of the length of our dedication. Our hours of practice were getting us nowhere that we wanted to be.
When we began homeschooling and I became the drill and facts master, I adamantly and ignorantly declared a war on all flashcards. Now into our second year of home schooling I find them creeping back in, under my watchful eye. I’m learning there are many ways to use the flash card stack in ways that make learning fun, exciting, and easily comprehended, and memorized.
How To Use Flashcards in the Homeschool Classroom
Place flashcards creatively around the house.
While attending a home school conference, I was privileged to sit in on a workshop called Strategies for Teaching the Struggling Reader by Kristen Eckenwiler. She gave a lot of examples of multi-sensory learning and fun learning games. She also offered her own huge stack of sight word flashcards.
One of her suggestions was to tape the flashcards to a wall and, after turning out the light, let your child find them with a flash light. Not wanting to dedicate all my wall space to sight words, I let each of my students choose a closet and we taped the flash cards they’re learning to the back of the closet doors. We change cards periodically, after the facts are memorized.
I also heard about someone who taped the cards to the bottom of her dining room table. Her kids had a lot of fun crawling under the table, lying on their backs, and studying their words.
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Create physical activities with flashcards and facts.
I have been taping small amounts of flashcards to our schoolroom floor and having my students hop from one to the other a couple times daily. For my youngest we started out with word starters, months of the year, color words, and skip counting. Our oldest has been working on memorizing geometry formulas and the presidents of the United States. As their confidence builds, the faster they hop across the floor!
EXTRA TIP: Another activity we’ve enjoyed is bouncing a ball around the circle while repeating facts.
Let your students make their own flash cards.
This was a totally new idea to me and I have the wonderful Math Lessons for a Living Education to thank for it.
Provide your students with index cards and markers. Give them the list of facts they need to copy and encourage them to use all the colors and clues they want. Clues are, most often, a great confidence builder, rather than a crutch. And you just conned them into copying facts without them even realizing it!
BONUS TIP: Find songs that drill facts and sing them with your children.
I have so enjoyed finding songs on YouTube that teach many facts. The ones we have especially enjoyed are teaching the continents and oceans of the world. Many of the tunes are catchy for all ages. Our preschooler stands in front of the map randomly placing his hands and singing, “Asia, Africa…” at the top of his lungs.
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If the stack of facts and memorization are bogging you and your students down, take courage! Drilling facts can be fun and easy for your students and give you the results you’re looking for if you use flashcards!
Anita is a homeschooling mom of three finding joy in the little moments. Read more at littlemomentsgreatjoy.wordpress.com.