Homeschooling: It's not what we do, it's how we live.

The Many Uses of Index Cards in Homeschooling

It has recently come to my attention that index cards may be the most awesome invention ever.

One of the main things I like about them is that they are portable and easy to organize – color coding, alphabetizing, numbering – all methods work equally well. They fit well into kids’ hands and they’re easy to work with.

Rather than re-invent the wheel, I’ve been finding tons of creative uses for them via the internets…

Heart of Wisdom suggested 10 Super Index Card Ideas, I  found #6 to be the most appealing:

6. Book Record/Bookmark

Index cards make great bookmarks — students can write out the title, author and publication date at the top of an index card. write notes about the book on the card. When  finish the book, drop the index card into a file box and have an ongoing record of your reading.

I LOVE this idea!! LBB tends to read something and it goes in one eye and out the other; this would be a great way to help him keep track of the details in the book to refer to when it comes time to work on a book report.

I also found the Hipster PDA. There are downloadable templates here, or you can just make your own since the concept is basically a bunch of index cards clipped together with a binder clip. Still fun, esp for the kidlets. If the index cards are too big, you can also use blank, printable business cards; they’re smaller and would be perfect for making your own card games, flash cards, new cards for re-purposing old board games (Candyland adapted for math, chutes and ladders adapted like Mad Libs – that sort of thing), create-your-own geography games, Hipster PDA-mini… etc.

They can be used for copywork, too – write or print and paste a phrase, a poem or paragraph on an index card and have the child copy it below (or affix it to the back for longer paragraphs). This helps the child see how the words are spaced when written (if you wrote it out). Plus, by archiving them in an index file, you and your child both can see the progression of penmanship as the year goes by.

Index Card timeline for shorter time lines, or specific time frames, using a string and clothespins to hang index cards would be a great idea. We’re using a scroll timeline right now – it’s LONG when all out, but easy to use for the most part – but I like the idea of using index cards, too. That would make it easy to add new figures or pictures during a unit, and then they can be added into the scroll.

Another great idea is using index cards and book card holders to make a ‘tired word rescue center’. Use one book card holder for each letter of the alphabet, and write commonly used words on the blank side and synonyms on the back (happy on the front, joyous, delighted, pleased and others on the back). That could even be expanded into a vocabulary-building game.

Another nifty index card idea is for spelling. I used an index card file box and a binder ring. Each week, on Monday, I give the kids 7 words. I write the word on the front (blank) side of the card once in print and once in cursive. Then the kids write their words three times, in print, cursive, print on Monday. On Tuesday – Thursday, they play games, write them, quiz each other  – they have a list of spelling activities that they choose three from each week and practice every day.  Then on Friday, we test. Any words that they get correct come off of the ring and get filed alphabetically. The words that they miss stay on the ring for another week (or until they get the right on the test).

To keep the rings separate, I write their initials on each card, and the date that each word was given so I can keep track of how long they’ve had a word. Once they know the word, it goes into the box, and that will eventually be their word bank. Also filed away are sight words (all of the ‘a’ words on a single card, etc.). This helps prevent a constant barrage of, “Mom, how do you spell…” during writing assignments.

I know there are tons of other ways to use index cards – what are some of your favorite ideas?



2 responses

  1. G-R-E-A-T ideas! We recently came upon a STASH of index cards (someone was cleaning out their office) and now we have more ideas of what to use them for. Thanks for posting!

    August 22, 2011 at 8:47 am

  2. I made a Hipster PDA and used it for a while. It was also good to file the cards into a photo album with routines on it. I would have a space left for the cleaning card and create a card for each area of the house which I rotate through on a weekly basis. I would also leave a gap for a school card or the kid’s chores that would change.

    Have fun,
    Jen in NSW

    August 22, 2011 at 9:54 pm

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