Not many people think of study aids as a source of fun and creativity. However, flash cards are one of the most effective tools students can use to remember material. And they can also be lots of fun to make and use. By encouraging your student to personalize and be creative with these study tools, you can improve their engagement with the material they are trying to master.
First, let’s think about the basic idea of a flash card. You might be thinking of an index card with a word or phrase on one side and a definition on the other side. Or you could be thinking of a card with the name of an important person or event at the top, and a few key details underneath it. If you visualize these cards in your mind, you’ll see there are lots of ways to be creative and make them a reflection of the person using them.
One simple way to make flash cards more fun and effective is to add color. If your student is a visual learner, adding color gives them another way to remember material. If they’re studying material that has different categories, they can use a different color for the cards in each category. For example, a student studying French vocabulary might make flash cards with feminine words in one color and masculine words in another color. This way, visualizing the card can help them remember the gender of the word. It also gives the student the opportunity to mark, color, highlight, or otherwise personalize their study aids to make them more fun.
Another option is that students who like to draw can take advantage of their skills by drawing out illustrations instead of writing out traditional details and definitions. There may be students who remember the definition of “mirth” better by drawing out a smiling face than by writing out the definition from the dictionary. For some students, an elaborate drawing, bordering on an art portrait, may be the most satisfying reference point. For these students, the time they spend creating their cards is just as important as the time they spend studying them. The experience and memory of creating something can be just as powerful a reminder as reviewing it later.
Finally, don’t think that flash cards have to be limited to writing and drawing. We’ve all heard of study aids that involve singing songs and doing physical activities to help students remember material. Flash cards can be multi-dimensional, too. Students can use paint, ribbon, decorative tape, photographs, or anything else that makes the cards more interesting and helps them engage with the material. If they need ideas, social media sites like Pinterest and Instagram are a great source of inspiration. There are lots of users who share their creative homemade study guides online.
Wherever students get their ideas, the point is to allow them to express themselves in a way that makes studying more personal. This is one way to help them stay connected to material they might otherwise find challenging.