Flash cards. They’re old-school, sure, but they’re versatile. You can flip through them to learn terms, concepts, and ideas while you’re riding the bus, or waiting for class to start. You can get someone else to quiz you with them, or you can quiz yourself. You can play different games with them in your study groups. Even just creating a flash card means you’re interacting with the material – so you’re studying when you do it.
But at some point you may look at your pile of flash cards and think “This is boring. I’m not learning anything new.” It may begin to feel like you’re reading and re-reading your book or your notes – just in a different format.
That’s why it’s a good thing flash cards are such a versatile tool!
If you want a new way to use your flash cards, make an activity card deck. This will let you interact with them in a whole new way.
Creating An Activity Card Deck
Get some 3″ x 5″ index cards. (You might want to choose a special color, so they stand out.) On the back of each one, write “ACTIVITY CARD.” On the front of each card, write one of the following activities.
- Relate this concept to something that happened to you today.
- Make up a story about this concept.
- Use this concept in a sentence.
- Relate this concept to someone famous, and explain how and why it relates to them.
- Give an example of this concept.
- Relate this concept to a current event, and explain how and why it relates.
- Act the concept out.
- Make up a song or poem about this concept.
- Give a short dramatic speech about the concept.
- Tell a joke about the concept.
- Draw a picture of this concept.
- Explain the concept as if you were a newscaster reporting on a big news story.
- Explain the concept as if you were a doctor giving a diagnosis.
- Describe the concept as if you were a sports announcer on TV.
- Write a question about this concept that might show up on an exam.
- Name a movie that uses this concept, and explain how it does.
- Name a song that uses this concept, and explain how it does.
- Name a TV show that uses this concept, and explain how it does.
- Name a book that uses this concept, and explain how it does.
Using the Activity Card Deck
Put all the activity cards in one pile, and your flash cards in another. Pick an activity card and a flash card. Then follow the instructions on the activity card, and see what happens.
Give a point for each successfully completed Activity Card. When someone reaches a pre-set number of points, they win the game.
Here’s a quick formula for setting the pre-set number of points: (Number of players x 2)-1. So, for example, if you have 3 players, (3 x 2)-1 = 5. If you have four players, (4 x 2)-1 = 7.
You can probably see how relating a concept in your flash card pile to one of the activities in the Activity Deck counts as studying. You’ll be interacting with the material in a totally different way than you have before. And if you’re in a study group, the results can be hilarious! (If you’re laughing, you’re learning.)
Add Some Variety
- Everyone in the group draws a flash card from their own pile, and one person turns over the top card on the Activity Card deck. Then everyone has to do the activity on the card, with their flash card, in a round-robin.
- Come up with additional Activity Cards and add them to your decks.
- If a person can’t do the Activity Card with their flash card, they have to forfeit a point from the points they’ve already earned.
Tying It All Together
Flash cards are a tried-and-true method of studying. Even so, it’s good to have multiple ways to use them, so you don’t get bored. By changing up the ways you use your flash cards, you can keep them as a fresh tool, while also having fun!
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