Young Parents With Child On Laptop ComputerFlash cards are an excellent teaching aid to use when teaching English, especially to children. Flash cards are small and easy to carry around and since they are almost always made of cardboard, they are pretty hardy and tough so they tend to last long. Flash cards can be used to teach all kinds of words like nouns, verbs and articles. Some creative publishers offer flash cards to even teach English grammar. Very often, flash cards are grouped into themes like “Animals”, “Occupations” or “Fruits” so parents have a variety of content to choose from. By searching for resources on the internet – parents can find an almost infinite variety of flash cards to use, mostly for free!

Sets of flash cards can be viewed on a mobile device or purchased at most book stores. Many sites also provide printable flash cards that print neatly if you set the paper dimensions correctly.

However, good flash cards are not always cheap, so why not make a set of your own?

Here is a list of tips to keep in mind when designing your own flash cards and using them to teach your children!

How To Make Flash Cards:

Decide if you want to use your flash card teaching aid on a mobile device or hard copy product.

  • If you want to use a mobile device, search the app store for a flash card maker, find one that works for you then create away!
  • If you want to create a hard copy product, you will need a printer and a set of markers. You really don’t need to stick everything onto a piece of cardboard but if you have the time (and enough cardboard), why not? Assuming you don’t have the time – simply print pictures you find off the internet and write the words at the bottom of the image with a marker. It does not have to be fancy!

1. Add information about each word.
Typically, flash cards in bookstores are marketed as vocabulary builders so most flash cards are just images with one word. Adding information creates context. Information also creates a point of reference for the child to remember facts about the new word. Learning some basic facts about the new word also teaches a child how to use the word in sentences and in conversation. When used in this way flash card becomes an extremely powerful teaching aid.

2. Add actual images of objects.
Search the internet for actual images of objects to use on flash cards. Avoid using cartoon images. Children will be swamped with cartoon images every day. Using real pictures helps to differentiate the child’s exposure to information. This increases the likelihood that the child will remember new words and information. Using real pictures also helps to keep things interesting for the child, who will be able to better relate to actual images instead of drawings.

How To Use Flash Cards When Teaching

1. Teach a word, then watch a video about that word.
Like adults, many children love to watch videos. Of course, we want to avoid cultivating a television or video addiction in children, so leaving them in a corner of the house with a mobile device is really not a good idea. However, with some careful planning, there can be a lot of benefits from using videos for teaching. For example, after teaching a child a new word, you can do a quick search on YouTube for related documentaries on the word or topic. If you find something suitable, let your child watch it under supervision. This multimedia experience will further enhance the learning experience for the child and will tremendously increase the efficiency of teaching. It will also give the child a sense of perspective that is lacking in most children.

For example, if a child is allowed to watch a documentary about wolves just after reading about wolves on flash cards, the child will be able to appreciate the fact that wolves are more than just mysterious and scary animals that appear in fairy tales to gobble up grandmas. The child will be able to put it into context that wolves are animals that hunt, roam in packs and share a living space with other wild animals. This expands the child’s understanding of the world around him/her.

2. Cover the image and ask the child to guess the word.
You read that right. It may sound counter intuitive but as the child starts to learn the alphabet and phonics, covering the image to let the child guess the word encourages the development of word recognition.

3. Give the child a blank piece of card board cut to flash card size then ask the child to copy the flash card to the best of his /her ability.
You can prolong the teaching session for maximum benefits by altering the teaching format. Take advantage of a child’s natural love for a piece of paper and pen, by setting out tasks to copy flash card content, including redrawing the images. This helps to develop fine motor skills and word recognition. Reading out to the child each syllable the he/she has copied also helps to teach the child phonics and word formation.

Quick tip! Energy levels matter!
Make an assessment of your child’s energy level before attempting new teaching techniques. Sometimes it may just be appropriate to lie in bed and read out flash cards while the child holds and studies each one.

Let your child tell you how he/she would like the lesson to be on any particular day. Like adults, children are more likely to stay committed and pay attention when empowered to make some decisions on their own.

Quick tip! Do not over simplify content!
Do not water down or over simplify content. If you teach your child about waves, and your child asks you how they are formed, give some basic information about tides and wind instead of fairy tale responses. While it is important to foster creativity, learning facts about the world is also just as important.

Brought to you by the KidsEnglishCollege™ Editorial Team.

Check out our English Short Story Collection & our Teaching Aids/Resources.

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