Add This Secret Sauce to Make Flashcards Fun

a stack of flashcards sit against a blue background

Rote learning can be extremely boring, but repetition is often necessary to fully grasp basic facts. Instead of merely asking the same questions over and over, I’ve relied on active learning to boost memorization. The addition of physical activity has saved my sanity and engaged my girls in ways verbal memorization never did.

One of the most classic tools for learning information through repetition is flashcards. They can be useful in subjects like math, science, history, as well as basics for young students, but flipping through a bunch of cards can make anyone’s eyes glaze over.

How can you harness the powerful potential of flashcards but make them more interactive? Grab a stack of index cards as I explain how to make flashcards exciting.

Math Facts on Flashcards

Write the numbers 0 through 10, along with the four basic math functions (+, -, x, and ÷) on blank index cards, one number or function per card. Spread the cards on the floor, face up, throughout a large space. Have your child move around the cards solving specific math problems.

For example, let’s say they begin on number 3. Tell them to hop over to the multiplication symbol, then skip over to the number 10. Once there, ask them to restate the math problem they just built and give you the correct answer.

If they get it wrong, move on to another problem and come back to it later.

Make it more challenging:

  • Work on mental math by having them move through multiple functions before giving an answer. Like 5 x 8 + 3 - 4 =?

  • Give them part of a math problem and ask them to move to the number or function to complete it.

  • Add higher numbers, mixed numbers (decimals and fractions), as well as more complex functions to the stack of index cards.

Identifying Colors with Flashcards

On blank index cards, color one side with specific colors you want your child to learn. Spread them on the floor and when you say the name of a color, she should quickly find the matching card. To add humor, give her specific movements such as hop, skate, crab walk, etc.

Or, choose a color and have her land on the colors that when combined, make that color.

Take it further:

  • Have your child identify which colored index cards represent primary, secondary, and tertiary colors.

  • Let them move along the cards, choosing which ones are analogous colors and which ones are complementary colors.

  • Ask them to find the color that matches specific objects. For example, what color is a bullfighter’s cape or what color(s) represent a poison dart frog?

Historical Events on Flashcards

Onto blank index cards, draw (or cut & glue) images that represent specific historical events from your homeschool lessons. Shuffle the cards and ask ask your child to order the events chronologically. Having a big working space makes this easier, so get on the floor if necessary.

After he finishes the timeline, have him physically move through the cards, first stating what each card represents, then giving a summary of the historical event.

You can make this more challenging by including more time periods.

Add This Secret Sauce to Make Flashcards FunVariations:

  • Have your child find all of the events that happened within a specific era or time period.

  • Give your child the name of someone and let him find the event(s) to which they are directly related.

Additional Subject Ideas Using DIY Flashcards


Create a food web or build the periodic table.


Lay out a variety of words and have your child find the pronouns, adverbs, conjunctions, etc.

U.S. Geography

Write down the names of the states and have your kids build the United States. Then draw famous monuments, rivers, mountains, and/or things each state is famous for onto cards and ask them to put them where they belong.

Remember that review doesn’t have to be boring. By adding movement to your review sessions, kids instantly become more engaged, making it easier for them to retain what they’re learning. And it’s a whole lot more fun!

See BookShark Reading with History Programs

About the Author

Megan Zechman

Megan Zechman is a veteran homeschool mom of two girls. Over at Education Possible, she shares creative, hands-on learning activities for middle school.