8 Ways to Use Index Cards

1. Sentence Halves: Put half a sentence on each card. The goal is for students match the two parts in order to make a complete sentence. You can vary the difficulty of this activity by making some sentence halves interchangeable with others. Encourage students to explain why they made each particular match. For beginning level students, write the entire sentence on one card and cut the card in half to make a mini jigsaw puzzle. The act of physically putting the shapes together will help students to recognize patterns in sentence formation.

2. Sentence Starters: Write part of a sentence on each card and have students take turns answering them.  Or, for one-on-one teachers, take turns with your student. Make sentences level-appropriate and save what you make. Students can even come up with their own sentence starters.  These are great for filling up extra class time, or as a break between lessons. Examples of sentence starters are “My favorite food is…”, or “I enjoy eating breakfast because…”

3. Concentration/Memory: Play concentration with sentence halves or vocabulary and definitions. Make sure that students are reading and discussing the sentences/words out loud and that you are asking follow-up questions. You can encourage your students to use the vocabulary in sentences, as well.

4. Preposition Work: Put different colors on each card or use colored index cards. Have students practice prepositions by putting cards on the table in different positions: blue on black, black between two blues, etc.  Learning prepositions is all about drill work; this is a great way to get that across.

5. Dictation: Put sentences around the room on index cards.  Students have to walk over to the sentence, memorize as much as they can and either tell their partner what they read for group classes, or they can write it on their own piece of paper.

6. Word Order Game: Put lots of different parts of speech in a bag (verbs, nouns, prepositions, adjectives, etc) and have students come up with as many distinct sentences as possible.  You can make this more difficult by not letting students repeat words. Change this activity by putting words that form a sentence around the room and have students dictate a correctly-ordered sentence.  The act of memorizing words and having to order them without writing is great for practice!

7. Descriptive Words: Have two students (or you and your student) sit back-to-back. One is given pictures of abstract shapes, the other a blank page and a pencil. The first student must describe the shapes (by size, color and their location on the card) as the other student attempts to draw a shape that matches the original.

8. Sentence completion: Make a set of question or sentence cards – each card should contain one question or sentence with a blank line to replace one of the words. Make another set of word cards. Have the student match the sentence/question to the word. Alternatively, rather than use a set of word cards, have the student pull one sentence/question card out of the stack and come up with the word to fill in the blank.

What are other ways that you have used index cards in your class?