Learning is one of the most common uses of flash cards. Whether it’s home education, school & institutional education for kids and students, or corporate training and other purposes for adults, you’ll see them.
It is suitable for various scenarios, for example: abc flash cards, alphabet flash cards, Spanish flashcards, boom learning cards, math flashcards, number flashcards, letter flashcards, sight words flash cards, etc.
As you can see, the flashcards are exactly the method for memorizing those fragmented and complicated tiny knowledge points. Firstly, it solves the problem of wasting energy by grouping all the knowledge points together and not differentiating the difficulty level; secondly, it helps you overcome the difficult points without realizing it by consolidating the wrong knowledge points until you remember them successfully.
Moreover, the quiz format of “draw and recognize” is actually giving ourselves a positive feedback incentive constantly. With more and more successful cards, we will gain a sense of achievement just like passing level after level when playing a game.
Here we will highlight why flashcards are so useful and how to make flashcards. You can choose from hand-made, online-made or even print-made methods to implement your flash card making ideas. All of these methods are equally effective, so you just need to decide which medium you prefer.
Why Do Flashcards Work?
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The flash cards require you to use active recall. You must guess or recall the correct answer, not just look at your textbook, notes, or a video on the topic. Active recall tests your memory and gives you the opportunity to “remember” the answer rather than relying on notes or other media to “provide” the answer. When your brain and memory are actively working, you can retain information longer than just passively encounter them.
Reading flashcards also involves metacognition – the awareness of your own thoughts and processes. This happens when you guess the answer and flip the card over to see if you are correct. When you look at the answers, you are self-assessing your skills; if you answer incorrectly, you will self-correct. This process can help you improve your own learning skills and master the topic more quickly.
In addition, flash cards involve a learning technique – spaced repetition. Constant interaction with the same subject matter makes it easier for your brain to recall information. Spaced repetition works best when flashcards are organized into groups of information and difficulty levels. In this practice, new or more difficult topics should be reviewed more frequently than easy topics, thus helping to reinforce spaced learning.
How To Make Flash Cards By Hand?
Handwritten flashcards may help improve recall more than printable flashcards. By writing the information with a pen, you can learn and process it more effectively, memorizing the spelling of words, rather than typing them into an electronic document.
Another benefit is that some people who are located in the role of teaching can easily bring them to class. Since many schools and institutions have bans or restrictions on electronic devices, you may not be able to use flashcards online in class.
- Prepare the place and materials
To start any project, you need a suitable area and all materials and tools ready for you to concentrate on your work.
For materials, you can collect signature pens, markers, highlighters, and any other writing instruments you wish to use. Usually, paper used for making flash cards by hand is index card. It is a common type of cardstock that typically measures 76.2×127 mm (3×5 inches) and does not fold or tear easily.
In addition to making flash cards or other visual aids, index card is also commonly used to record and store recipes, shopping lists, contact information, presentation notes and more. If you don’t have any index card, you can also cut a plain sheet of white cardstock to the desired size.
- Highlight the focus
1) Clarify the scenario
You need to be clear about the people and scenarios for which the flash cards will be used. If you are making it for yourself, then you need to consider your own learning behavior and habits before identifying important information in your notes and textbooks. If you are making it for others, such as young children, foreigners, beginners, etc., then you need to consider aspects such as their knowledge level and memory capacity.
2) Refine knowledge
Distill the knowledge down to its key components. It is a good idea to start with a mind map or framework in your notebook so that you can transfer them to flashcards in physical or digital form. A clear and well-defined note-taking system will help you create learning flashcards more smoothly.
3) Design the front flash card
Write down your key terms, concepts, or questions on the front of the flash card. Try to write these phrases or short sentences as large as possible to make them easier to read. Also, do not write any explanations or answers on the front side.
This is because the purpose of the flash card is to allow you to see a basic concept and then be able to identify relevant information about the topic. Therefore, please keep the front of the card as simple as possible.
Research has proven that associating words with visuals makes it easier to recall information. You can draw simple patterns to describe words or questions to help you remember complex topics.
4) Design the back flash card
Write down your key and short messages on the back of the flash card. Write in pencil or light ink so that this information does not bleed through to the other side of the card. If desired, you can also draw a diagram or pattern.
However, make sure your text is large, clear and well-spaced. This is because crowded or smaller fonts can make it difficult to quickly identify important content and do not facilitate your quick recall.
- Optimize and improve
1) Use bright colors
Using different colored markers or highlighters to identify key points can draw your attention further to the salient information. You are free to be creative, just make sure it doesn’t interfere with reading.
2) Keep things simple
Each card should contain only one key point and answer. This is more helpful for association and memorization and prevents the learning process from becoming overwhelming. If you need help remembering more complex topics, it is best to break them down into simpler subsections.
For example, if you want to remember the point on heart/vascular disease in medical terminology flashcards, you can’t write all the subcategories of blood clots, DVT, thrombophlebitis, etc. on the back. Instead, you should separate them all into individual cards and finally organize them into a card group using a card box or open-ended ring.
You can also use shorthand to save space. Sometimes, you may need to include a lot of information on a single flash card. In this case, consider using a form of shorthand that works for you. Often, people use “&” instead of “and” and “eg” instead of “for example “.
How To Make Flashcards Online?
- Office software
1) Create a template
Open Microsoft Word, PowerPoint or Adobe Acrobat, search for “flash card” in their template library and choose the template you like. Of course, you can also download some templates for multiplication flash cards, abc flash cards or alphabet flash cards from the Internet, or even design your own from scratch.
But please remember that your flash cards should be easy to read. If a certain decoration or color makes it difficult for you to use them, you should avoid using that template.
2) Fill in the information
Some templates will tell you where to put key terms, concepts or questions, and where you should put the necessary information. Usually, we fill in the key words or questions on the front of the card and write the corresponding answers or comments on the back. You can refer more to commercially available flashcards or flashcards made by study masters.
3) Paint the colors
Use colors to further organize your flashcards. The color should be easy to read but distinguish it from the other colors. For example, use black text as the primary information, and then use red, green, blue, etc. as supplementary information.
4) Add patterns
This will be the highlight of your flash cards – add pictures to the cards to make them more beautiful and memorable. The idea comes from a concept in cognitive psychology called the picture dominance effect: pictures and images are easier to remember than words. This effect has been confirmed in numerous experiments.
However, this does not mean that you can completely replace the text on the card with a picture. Because it turns out that a mixture of pictures and text works better than pictures alone. By adding descriptive sentences (or even individual terms) next to the patterns, you can improve your brain’s ability to recall what you’ve learned.
5) Print and cut
Once the design is complete, you can use your printer to print and cut out the flash cards to the right size. What’s more, you can organize them into a card group by punching a hole in their corner and stringing the cards on a ring. This way you can flip through them whenever and wherever you want.
- Online Design Platforms
Currently, there are many online platforms or apps for making flash cards on the web, such as Canva, Quizlet and Cram, all of which can help you start this project easier and faster. Most of their resources are free, and some are even customized by discipline, such as hiragana flash cards and pharmacology flash cards.
All you need to do is find the right template or theme and follow the platform’s step-by-step instructions to quickly generate a series of flash cards that you can then print out or save to your computer or phone!
How To Print Flashcards?
If you just need a deck of flash cards, then a home printer or print store can help you print them right away. But if you are considering mass production or even selling, then you will need a professional flash card maker. You better choose a manufacturer who has a lot of experience in learning flash cards so that you will get more help on layout, color, production, etc.
Typically, making printable flashcards involves the following processes: Design Submission – Typesetting – Printing on Press – Surface Treatment –Cutting and Drying – Subassembly – Packaging. If you want to learn more about how to print flash cards, please click on “Process“.
How To Use Flashcards?
- Say it out loud
The more senses you involve in the learning process, the more likely you are to remember the information longer. Try speaking out the answers while reading them as an active learning method.
- Mix the order
Make sure to study your flashcards in as many different orders as possible. This is because if you keep using the same order over and over again, you may only remember the answers to the order rather than the keywords. You can shuffle the cards after each use to build up the neural pathways that support memory recall.
- Study often
Practice achieves perfect. A set of flash cards or note cards won’t help you much if you don’t use them regularly. Whether you’re studying for an advanced exam in high school or college, or your child is in kindergarten or elementary school, studying regularly is critical to success. Plan flash card study sessions at least once a week and review concepts before exams for best results.
- Image and observe sometimes
Some letters, numbers, and words that are simple for us are a whole new world for young children. If you are making flash cards for preschoolers, don’t identify them for the sake of identification. It is more important for them to develop imagination and observation. This requires teaching people to spend more time with them playing card games, communicating and interacting more.
In fact, the answers for how to make flashcards is not complex. They can be summarized in 3 points: the first is to categorize the cards into word studies, extracts of key points, questions to think about, and so on. The second is that the knowledge recorded on each card should be as homogeneous and structured as possible. The third is to make learning more interesting through visual elements such as colors, patterns and even icons!