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Incorporating flash cards into your lesson plan is a successful method for teaching almost any subject to children. This is especially true for occasionally dry subjects, like history, or challenging ones, such as algebra and geometry. For example, a tangible flash card allows a child to associate a specific color with a word, or an animal with a letter of the alphabet to aid in memorization. In fact, studying with flash cards works so well that even adults continue to use them throughout college! They're especially handy when children want a fast way to brush up on a subject before a quiz or an exam. The best part about this method of studying is that kids can easily make their own personalized sets of flash cards - writing down the information is often very helpful when it comes to memorizing facts, letters and numbers. When writing out your own set, 5"x7" note cards work well; so do pieces of construction paper that have been folded in four sections. If you're really in a pinch, lined notebook paper can even be used.
On the other hand, if you don't want to write out your own, there are also many free printable flash card sets available in almost every subject, including social studies, basic math, as well as French, Spanish and English grammar. Being able to use sets that other teachers and parents have found to be the most successful can cut down a lot of time that would have otherwise been used to experiment with different ways to present the information. Most of the time, it's best to print them on sturdy card stock so that the set can be used multiple times without ripping and showing signs of wear. If you have never printed a double-sided document before, then it's a good idea to print a test round before doing the entire set. It's important to remember that flash cards should be used as a supplemental form of studying. To truly understand a subject, children should be shown multiple ways to learn the material - like using flash cards along with demonstrations, quizzes and regular reading material.
If you're having a difficult time encouraging children to use flash cards regularly, consider making studying with them a game. For example, let the children partner up and study together using a point system to see which student answers the most correct answers without having to look at the back of the flash card. In fact, you can even turn it into an entire class room event to make sure everyone is getting involved. Younger children in grades K-3 can make using flash cards fun by decorating their sets with markers, crayons, stickers and decorative hole punches. Not only does this allow them to quickly identify which set is theirs, but they also get to practice the actual flash cards while they are having fun making them. If you plan on using the flash cards for a long period of time, then laminating the cards may lend more durability to the sets.
To help get you started in your search, here are some resources that offer free sets of printable flash cards in a variety of elementary school subjects: