Flash cards. Vocabulary cards. Word cards. Whatever you want to call them every classroom has them and a lot of teachers scour the web to find something already created in an effort to save time. In truth they don’t take a long time to create: some people just find it a fiddly job or just don’t feel confident enough with software to have a go. But there will be occasions when the vocabulary you want will not be available elsewhere and you need a quick alternative to get you sorted. Here are a few ideas.
One of the things that can make or break a good word card (in my opinion anyway) is the choice of font. I prefer to use fonts that include a round lower case ‘a’ and there are some good ones around if you don’t have the option of Sassoon fonts. My preference is for a free font called Lilly: it’s not perfect but it is much more ‘grown up’ looking that something like Comic Sans yet still has a child friendly look about it. For other ideas on good free fonts with the correct shaped ‘a’ have a look at Free Fonts – Round A: a list of fonts I put together that offer and alternative to the usual fonts you might use.
Now…to the cards! I prefer to use Microsoft publisher to create flash cards as I think it gives me the most control over the look of the cards. I’ve recently changed over to the 2010 version and while it did take a little getting used to I’m quite happy with what I can achieve using it. A short video clip is above and the method is adaptable to other versions of Publisher. I find I have much more control with Publisher or PowerPoint for this sort of thing: Word does not give you the same options. A particular thing I like about Publisher (and Powerpoint for that matter) is that you can make picture cards (using the same method as outlined in the video) and just right click your original image to change the picture for the next card!If you’re not confident using Publisher, and I know not everyone is, there are online options you might like to try as an alternative.
SENteacher.org is a fantastic site for all sorts of things, including creating flash cards. Please don’t be put off by the SEN tag – the site is full of fabulous things that teachers everywhere can make use of! There are great templates available for both Literacy and Numeracy (some would be suitable for cross-curricular use too) and they are all free and adaptable, with different colour and size options on many of the templates. Another useful site to add to your favourites is Brendan is Teaching: full of all sorts of activity generators (including flash cards). The site also includes lesson plans, classroom tools and other downloads you may find handy. It is definitely worth a look!
If you are looking for something that can support pupils with SEN (especially if you don’t have any symbol supporting software at your disposal) you might also like to look at the printable cards section that is available via Do2Learn : a great site with lots of resources that can be used with pupils who might need a little extra help (you might also like Ispeek: no flash cards to print but a great symbol site that is based in the UK). This site is not for everyone but is useful and does contain a number of freebies that you might be able to make use of.
There are, of course, other avenues available if you are creating your own cards. 2Publish+ has a handy Multi setting that supports images and text: use it to make multiple copies of cards one at a time. Writing with Symbols and Boardmaker are both useful, especially if you are working with pupils who required picture or symbol support. I’m sure you can think of others! It’s worth exploring your options to create something that is truly your own! Before I go, I’d just like to mention Flashcard Machine:a site that brings flash cards right into the 21st century! The site is free to register and allows to you tocreate study cards and use their ipod and ipad apps to view them when you’re on the move. How cool is that!