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Using Flash Cards in the Upper Elementary Classroom

December 28, 2021 No Comments
Virginia Studies SOL Review flash cards

When it comes to test prep, there are so many engaging review activities you can use with your students. Escape rooms, Boom cards, and room transformations are just a few. But sometimes, less is more. I’ve worked with many students who prefer resources that stick to the content without the fuss. Enter flash cards!

We typically think of flash cards for vocabulary (word on the front, definition on the back). But what I’m talking about is question-and-answer cards that help students review the standards for a unit in a content area like science, social studies, or math.

There are LOTS of ways upper elementary students can use flash cards that you might not have thought of before. And I’m all about versatility when it comes to test prep resources. So let’s dig into some ways to repurpose flash cards and keep your students engaged in test review.

1. Traditional Q&A

The first way to use flash cards is exactly what you think of – reading the question, answering it, and then checking to see if you’re correct. Students can do this alone or with a partner or small group – a few questions at a time or a whole set.

These are great to send home for a student to review with a sibling, guardian, or after-school care. You can also put the cards on a ring and call them out to the class when you need a 5-minute time filler (awesome for spiral review).

Virginia Studies SOL test review activity for VS.2

2. Sort

To switch it up a little, you can cut apart the questions and answers and have students match them. This is a good challenge especially when there are similar answers.

If you want to get your students moving, you can place the answer cards around the room for a scavenger hunt!

geometry flash cards are a great math test prep activity for the upper elementary classroom

3. Cooperative Matching Game

You can easily use flash cards to create a fun whole-class game. Just distribute the questions and the answers separately to students and have them find the person with the matching card. For more of a challenge, you can have them do it without talking!

4. Quiz and Trade

I’ve always loved using Kagan strategies to mix up the routine. A quiz-and-trade game is a great way for students to review the material but still get some movement and practice speaking with a partner.

5. Questions Only

Next up, you can just use the questions. These are great to glue in a review notebook or to use as a warmup question or exit ticket.

use flash cards in math, science, and social studies for warm-up questions and exit tickets

6. Answers Only

Or you can do it the opposite way! Give students the answer and see if they can come up with a question to fit. I love this activity as a way to bring in critical and creative thinking skills.

7. Use with a Board Game

The last tip I have for you is to incorporate the cards in a board game. When students want to take a turn, they have to first answer the question correctly. Think Checkers, Othello, Connect 4, Jenga… This is an EASY way to increase engagement while reviewing what they’ve learned!

review cards make a great review activity for each unit and for SOL test prep

As you can see, what seems like a very plain review activity is actually pretty versatile! Using flash cards in areas like science, social studies, and math is a nice break is a helpful way to review content in grades 3, 4, and 5!

If you want to save time making your own flash cards, you can see the sets I’ve created here:

Math Flash Cards

Virginia Science Flash Cards

Virginia Studies Flash Cards

3rd Grade Virginia Social Studies Flash Cards

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