Workshop Wednesday: Pocket Charts (DIY)

Have you ever wished you had a pocket chart for use with your homeschool lessons? Letting kids insert flashcards into a pocket chart or rearrange them to suit the lesson concept can provide a tactile element to phonics, reading, spelling, math, geography, etc. If your cards are large enough (3×5″) or if the chart is on the wall or across the room, it can become a kinesthetic method, too. Sometimes you may have just a few uses for a pocket chart in your schooling, but not quite enough to justify investing your hard-earned funds in the fancy teacher-supply-store versions. Try these suggestions for making your own pocket charts.

Secure any of the following to a bulletin board or large sheet of poster board:

Paper envelopes (recycle some junk mail!); the front of the envelope (the side where the address would be written) will be attached to the poster board, so trim the back of the envelope (which will be the front of your pocket) to about 1″ high or enough to allow a card to rest inside but still show the information (I trimmed off the flap, too)

Photo album pages; these come in several sizes that can be carefully cut apart & taped down to poster board as needed  (Consider the variety of special album pages made for film slides, baseball cards, etc.) I turned a trading card page sideways and used a razor knife to slit a side of each pocket open (to become the new top edge) and trimmed it lower (with scissors) for easy insertion of cards, then used clear tape to secure the former open/top edge (now a side).

Plastic page protectors for 8 1/2x 11″ sheets of paper; can be cut down as needed

Clear Contact paper; stick to itself (sticky sides together) to make pockets larger or longer than album pages or page protectors

Clear vinyl zippered bags from sheets, blankets, or pillows; cut them up or use “as is” for jumbo pockets to hold large cards (imagine the possibilities: label the bags with parts of speech & toss a bean bag into the correct one when Mom calls out a word — oh, but we were supposed to be talking about pocket charts here)

Vinyl upholstery fabric can be taped, sewn, or stapled together (if not transparent, cut the front of the pockets low enough that the cards’ information can be seen easily, but the cards will still stay upright in the pocket)

If you don’t have a large bulletin board, you can use brass paper fasteners to secure the pockets to poster board or cardboard, or punch holes with a large yarn needle or awl and sew the pockets to the backing cardboard with yarn or string. Clear packing tape (2″ wide) can also be strong enough to hold the charts to poster board, but is not as easy to remove.

How to use–

  • Letter matching: upper/lower case
  • Letters forming words (use game tiles!)
  • Reading practice with phonics patterns or rhyming words

  • Reading practice with words forming sentences (see photo above)
  • Spelling practice (game tiles again!)
  • Math problems: Insert some numbers and operation symbols, and let the student complete the problem, or let students try to build their own problems correctly.

  • Illustrate place value, borrowing, and carrying (regrouping) for understanding. The physical act of changing ten ones into a ten and moving it from the ones’ column to the tens’ column is a very powerful transformation in a young mathematician’s mind!
  • Chore chart
  • Calendar
  • Matching states, capitals, & postal abbreviations (see photo above)
  • Match vocabulary words with definitions


Once you have made a few dozen word cards, a handy way to store them is in an index card file box. Add a set of ABC divider cards and teach your student how to sort the word cards alphabetically. Your student can even become the Official Keeper of the Word Cards, so he can pull out only the cards needed for each lesson, and then put them away again for next time. He’ll get the bonus activity of learning and practicing alphabetizing, and he’ll never realize that this fun activity is a great lesson in itself!



Workshop Wednesday: Letter or Number Manipulatives (DIY)

Have you ever found yourself wishing you had a whole big bunch of fancy-schmancy letter or number manipulatives to help your struggling learner? Well, don’t move, because you’re about to learn how to make them inexpensively for yourself!

A child who has difficulty learning letters or phonics patterns, identifying syllables, spelling words, or reading will usually benefit from using letter manipulatives, something he can move around and re-position himself. The struggling student might be any age, so using letter tiles is helpful for older students who already know the letters but struggle in spelling or syllable divisions.

Number manipulatives are helpful for the student who struggles with math, as are extra tiles with math operation symbols, to use them in building and solving equations. It’s one thing to use math cubes to illustrate 3 + 2 = 5, but it’s another thing entirely to use number tiles to solve 3 + 2 = 4 + y.

It’s fairly easy to cut out letter or number shapes by enlarging a simple font to super-size status, about 3″ tall (or around 350 points) on your computer’s word processor. Experiment to find a font you like, enlarge the letters or numbers, then print them on cardstock and cut out. These shapes can also be used as templates for making cut-out letters or numbers from materials that can’t be put through a computer printer, or to get more letters or numbers from a single sheet of paper.

Squares or rectangles can be turned into cards or tiles by writing the letters or numbers on them with a Sharpie marker. I have used cardstock, sandpaper, and cereal box cardboard for these with great success. The sandpaper adds a nice tactile element for kids whose learning styles appreciate more texture. I have varied the sizes, depending on the age of the kids using them and the application they will fulfill — 6″ squares are great for matching games on the floor, but 1″ squares work great as tabletop tiles for spelling practice. We had a few hundred small letter tiles made from cardstock, which were great for building a list of spelling words.

For students who are just learning their letters, I highly recommend starting with upper case letters first, then once the student knows them without mistakes, introducing the lower case letters as the “little brothers” of the upper case. This results in less confusion and fewer possibilities for reversals.

These cut-out letter shapes are wonderful tools for teaching and learning recognition, matching, phonics, spelling, syllables, and so on, whether by themselves or in combination with cards, tiles, and a variety of sizes and font styles (especially helpful for learning to recognize all the different appearances letters can have). You could even make some in the exact same size and shape as the letter tiles from a Scrabble or Bananagrams game and combine them all for even more learning fun!

I have made letter and number shapes and cards from these materials:

  • Sandpaper (fine to medium texture works best)
  • Craft foam
  • Textured fabrics (corduroy, vinyl, fleece, denim, etc.)
  • Cardboard (including cereal boxes), poster board, etc.
  • Cardstock
  • Textured scrapbooking paper

Bonus Tips:

  • Sometimes I needed to glue an identical shape of cardstock or cardboard to the backs of some flimsy materials for stability and durability, especially with cloth or thin paper.
  • Wood or foam cut-outs can sometimes be found with craft supplies for a quicker start.
  • It can also be helpful to decorate the front side and/or bottom edge of letters and numbers to help kids learn to orient them correctly (even a line drawn with a marker can be enough to discern top from bottom or front from back).

Letter Activities:

  • Matching — sort lots of different letter shapes, tiles, and cards into separate piles for each letter. Alphabetizing — mix up one set of letters (A-Z) and put them into alphabetical order.
  • Phonics Practice — use letters to make short words (2-3 letters) and practice reading their sounds in order to read the words. Change one consonant and read again; repeat. Ditto for changing the vowel. Repeat for longer words as skills increase.
  • Spelling practice — use your supply of letter manipulatives to build spelling or vocabulary words. Add as many words as possible that use the same phonics patterns.
  • Syllables — build a vocabulary word, then scoot the letters apart to divide the word into its proper syllables. Compare to the dictionary entry to self-check.

Number Activities:

  • Matching — sort lots of different number shapes, tiles, and cards into separate piles for each number.
  • Numerical order — mix up a set of numbers (0-9 or 1-10) and put them into numerical order.
  • Number value — match the appropriate number shapes, tiles, and cards with the dots on dice or dominoes.
  • Double-digit numbers — combine digits to make teens, twenties, etc. and practice reading them. Ditto for three-digit numbers and beyond.
  • Arithmetic practice — build arithmetic problems using the number shapes, tiles, cards, and operation symbols, and put the correct numbers in place for the answers.
  • More operations — be sure to make some commas, decimal points, fraction bars, dollar & cent signs, percent signs, and anything else your student will encounter in his math lessons.


For more activity ideas, see also (in any order):

ABC Flashcards

Building Blocks for Success in Spelling

Building Blocks for Success in Math

“Stealth Learning” Through Free Play

What Is the Missing Element?

Letter & Number Recognition

Tactile Learners

Workshop Wednesday: Freebie Magnets

Magnets are a wonderful learning tool for tactile learners. There is something about that magical, magnetic connection that appeals to fingers of all ages. Fortunately, most of us have a ready supply of free advertising magnets from the pizza place, the hairdresser, the auto mechanic, the new phone directory, and every politician who marches in a summer parade. Peel your collection off the refrigerator, and let’s turn them into some great learning aids. I’ll list several possible uses and some basic how-to’s for the magnets. You’ll want to analyze what topic your students are struggling with or where they need the most help, and then focus your efforts there. Students can also help make magnetic learning aids, and helping to make them means the learning begins right away.

Stickers are probably the easiest things to turn into magnets, since you just have to stick them onto a magnet and cut around the stickers with scissors or a razor knife (such as an X-Acto). I have used scrapbooking stickers that looked like Scrabble letter tiles, foam letter stickers that were shaped like small jigsaw puzzle pieces, and 3-dimensional plastic stickers with raised animal shapes. The puzzle piece stickers were slightly tricky because of their irregular shapes, but I cut the magnets into squares small enough to fit in the center of each sticker, and then (after attaching the magnets) dusted the surrounding sticky edges with baby powder, using a dry artist’s paintbrush. It took two rounds of dusting powder to get the foam pieces to stop sticking to each other, but I’ve had no problems with them since then. With regularly shaped stickers, it is fairly simple to line them up next to each other (as many as will fit on the magnet), press them down securely, and then cut them apart. If your stickers have rounded corners, cut them apart as squares first, then round off each corner with scissors. There may be a strip of magnet left at the side that is too narrow to hold more stickers, but hang onto that piece—you’ll cut it up and use it later.

Once upon a time, my kids had some puffy stickers that they wanted to be able to save and reuse. Magnets to the rescue! I covered the backs of the stickers with adhesive plastic, then attached a magnet to each one. Those cartoon character magnets became a great quiet toy for imaginative play.

Craft foam sheets allow you to make your choice of subject matter by writing on the foam with a permanent marker, such as a Sharpie. (Some foam sheets can even be purchased with a magnetic backing already attached!) I had some magnetic strips that were adhesive on one side (leftovers from a weather-stripping project), so I cut squares of craft foam the same width as the magnetic strip, stuck them on, and cut the magnetic strip between the squares. Adding numbers to each square produced magnetic manipulatives for math! I drew arithmetic operation symbols on a few more squares to complete the set.

Laminated placemats have been featured in a previous Workshop Wednesday article, but I will mention them again here for good measure. That example showed a periodic table of elements placemat that I turned into magnets, but any subject matter will do. If a placemat doesn’t lend itself to a building block format (such as the periodic table) or a map (USA, etc.), perhaps you can cut it into a simple jigsaw-style puzzle to entice your kids to play with the magnetic pieces and learn the information.

I have also used the plain (back) side of a thick foam-like vinyl placemat by cutting it into the desired shapes and attaching a small piece of leftover magnet to the back of each piece (formerly the front of the placemat). Adhesive squares made for scrapbooking, card making, and other popular paper crafts work great for attaching magnets (without the mess and hazards of hot glue guns). These vinyl-foam placemats are a bit heavier than craft foam and are made of a material that is not subject to the static electricity that can leave you covered in bits of craft foam for the rest of the day. Yes, that is a magnetic map of Iowa’s 99 counties, made from the backside of an orange jack-o-lantern placemat, but please don’t feel you have to try something quite so ambitious as your first project (that thing was tricky!).

A USA jigsaw puzzle (cut on state borders) received new life as a magnetic puzzle with the addition of a magnet square to the back of each puzzle piece.

Letter game tiles were repurposed with the addition of a magnet on the back of each tile.

Sandpaper cut into small squares can be glued to cardstock for added strength and then attached to a magnet. Grab your Sharpie marker again and write or draw letters, numbers, symbols, etc. for magnetic manipulatives with a bonus tactile texture. I made some in 1” squares, but don’t let that limit your imagination!

Funny facial features (eyes, eyebrows, noses, mouths, mustaches, ears, etc.) drawn on cardstock and attached to magnets become a fun game for preschoolers (I saw that idea on Pinterest, but I don’t know who originated it; someone deserves the credit!). Now what if you used the same principle for body parts and made interchangeable heads, bodies, legs, feet, arms, and tails for a magnetic build-a-monster activity? Build-a-bug, build-a-robot, build-a-car, build-an-animal, build-an-alien—the possibilities are endless! Your older students may have fun creating these magnets for their younger siblings, and they’ll learn some great problem-solving skills in the process. I wonder if we can make these small enough to fit in this empty Altoids tin? Hmmm… then Mom could keep it in her purse for Timmy to play with in church or while waiting in a restaurant!

So let’s review: we’ve discussed making magnets for letters to use for phonics and spelling practice, numbers and operation symbols for math, chemical elements for science, and states for geography. Need more ideas? How about geometric shapes, colors, incrementally-scaled pieces for number value (make them match the size of other math blocks you may own), fraction pieces, or pattern blocks. Have a struggling reader? Use the “magnetic poetry” type of word magnets (purchased or home-made) to focus on reading one word at a time, then adding them together to build a sentence. Have a struggling writer? Those same magnetic words can help him write sentences, stories, or poetry, since it can be much easier to rearrange someone else’s words than it is to think up new words from your own head. Pick up a small, inexpensive, cardboard skeleton party decoration, cut it apart into individual bones or groups of bones (such as the rib cage, hands, feet, etc.), attach some magnets, and you have an anatomy learning aid. Plastic or cardboard coins can become magnetic money manipulatives (say that three times really quickly).

When you have accumulated a large supply of educational magnets, the traffic in front of your refrigerator may get overly congested. Solution: steel cookie sheets or steel pizza pans are lap-sized and much more portable than the refrigerator door. If you need to shop for steel pans, you may want to take along a small magnet in your pocket for testing purposes. (That nosy store clerk will leave you alone when you explain that you’re obviously shopping in the kitchen section for educational materials.)

Now before I forget, there is one other accessory that makes magnetic learning aids even more beneficial: paper. I drew a Sudoku grid large enough to hold our number magnets and placed it on the cookie sheet, using the magnets to hold it in place. Ta-da, magnetic Sudoku can take the visual puzzles from a book or newspaper and turn them into a tactile masterpiece. A worksheet with fill-in-the-blank problems could hold magnets on those blanks instead of written answers. Your kids might choose to color an underwater background picture to place behind their letter magnets, just because they are learning to spell the names of ocean creatures.

Learning isn’t limited to books, life doesn’t happen between the pages of a workbook, and we learn what we enjoy. Magnets get fingers involved, and fingers love to learn! So what are you waiting for???

See also:
What Is the Missing Element?
Placemats + Magnets = Educational FUN!

Workshop Wednesday: Clothespins

Clothespins? Yes, ordinary spring-type clothespins can be turned into some pretty snazzy manipulatives and still be pressed into laundry duty as needed. I used a Sharpie permanent marker to write on the “business end” of each clothespin. See the entire alphabet? (click on photos to enlarge)

I made my clothespins with upper case letters. Your students can practice matching them up with their lower case “little brothers” on flashcards, even homemade ones like this piece of cereal box cardboard.

Did you notice that the first pic had the clothespins facing one way and the next pic had the clothespins facing the other way? Good for you—you’re very observant! I wrote the letters on both sides of the clothespins, carefully facing them in opposite directions, so that the pins could be used either up or down. Here’s one pin I took apart, so you can see both sides at once.

I repeated this trick with numbers and arithmetic operation symbols. These are clipped onto a wire hanger to spark your imagination with more ideas for use!

And here’s a quick math problem with clothespins:

You can make multiple sets of letters and numbers with these low-cost, multi-purpose manipulatives. Let your early learners sort the letters in alphabetical order or clip the clothespin letters onto matching flashcards, letter tiles, or the title words on their favorite storybooks. Use the pins for phonics practice, challenge your students to form their spelling words, or leave silly messages on the clothesline. Bring a different tactile dimension to math lessons by letting the littles sort the numbers in order, combine pins for multiple-digit numbers, or include the operation symbols for writing out math problems. Best of all, these manipulatives can do double duty on laundry day, and your students will get plenty of stealth learning practice when they sort the pins out again for lessons!

For more fun, combine these with:
ABC Flashcards
What Is the Missing Element?
Letter & Number Recognition


Workshop Wednesday: Pipe Cleaners

A supply of pipe cleaners, also called chenille sticks, in various sizes and colors provides a great quiet-time activity that will keep almost any child busy for a good, long time. For teaching purposes, pipe cleaners can be formed into a variety of shapes as versatile manipulatives for your tactile students who need to get their hands on something to be able to learn it. The activities listed below can be used interchangeably for letters, numbers, or geometric shapes. Some students may need to try just a few of these activities, while others may want to try all of them… repeatedly.

Bonus tip: It helps to store the pipe cleaners in a shoebox or other container that is large enough to hold several of your students’ artistic creations! You can also take pictures of the more complex creations, enabling the student to dismantle the project and straighten out the pipe cleaners for their next use, while still saving proof of his hard work and imaginative designs.

• Challenge an early learner to duplicate the letters made by Mom or an older sibling.

• Use multiple pipe cleaners to make bigger letters. Using several colors can help younger students recognize the various components of each letter as the separate pencil strokes required to write it.

• Make multiples of each letter in various colors and sizes, and then play a matching game by grouping all the matching letters together. Students can also match pipe cleaner letters to other sets of letters: magnetic letters, letter tiles from games, flashcards, ABC books, etc.

• Match upper & lower case letters together as big brother/little brother pairs.

• Make letters to match those shown on letter tiles from games or on letter flashcards (even home-made). Shuffle cards and place stack face down, turning up the top card for the challenge letter, or put letter tiles in a clean sock or paper bag, then draw one tile at random for the challenge letter.

• Another version of the letter challenge game is to make the opposite case letter of the challenge card or tile. If a flashcard shows a lower case letter, challenge the student to make the upper case version of that letter; if a letter tile shows an upper case letter, make its lower case counterpart.

• Show how flipping a lower case “b” can transform it into a “d,” “p,” or “q” to help children learn to differentiate between the letters. The same principal works for turning a lower case “n” over to become a “u,” or turning an upper case “M” over to look like a “W.” Demonstrating that certain letters do have similar shapes can help children understand which is which and be certain they are using the correct one.

• Twist the ends of several pipe cleaners together to make a long line of pipe cleaners and bend it into the shape of cursive letters or entire words in cursive script.

• FEEL the letters blind-folded or with eyes closed (no peeking!) and try to identify them correctly. This can be tricky if the letter is held upside down or backwards, but turning it over and all around will help students learn to identify and distinguish between similarly-shaped letters. Some students may enjoy the challenge of trying to identify letters that are purposely positioned upside-down or backwards.

• Challenge students to “reproduce this pattern” of geometric shapes, numbers, or letters, even repeating the same colors used. This same activity works well for teaching pattern recognition when stringing beads, but mistakes can be corrected more simply in this version by moving a few pieces around, instead of un-stringing the entire project, and can therefore be less stressful for a sensitive student.

• Numbers made from pipe cleaners can be used to illustrate early math problems in a fuzzy, tactile way, providing a helpful transition between the “counting beans” stage and doing written problems.

• Lay a sheet of paper over any flat pipe cleaner creation and rub across the paper with the side of a crayon to create a “rubbing” image of the letter, number, or shape.

See also:
ABC Flashcards
Letter and Number Recognition

Workshop Wednesday: Macaroni as Manipulatives

Have you ever found yourself wishing you could afford hundreds, or maybe even thousands of letter or number manipulatives? Head for the pasta aisle in your favorite grocery store—a bag of alphabet macaroni contains both letters and numbers! The pasta is low-cost, so if you have several children who would each enjoy their own supply, you can buy several bags. Letting each student store his macaroni in a large zipper bag will help to make clean up simple and easy.

I sorted through a bag just to see if all the letters and numbers were represented, and yes, they were. My adult-sized fingers found the task a little tricky, but a set of tweezers made it simpler. Children’s small fingers are much more suited to this assignment, and tactile learners will really love digging in. Muffin pans, egg cartons, or cookie sheets are great receptacles for sorting!

Let your students play with the uncooked macaroni at first, and see what activities they devise for themselves. If they need a little encouragement or a starting place, suggest sorting the letters, forming spelling words, making random words (like “magnetic poetry” but without the magnets), or writing sentences. If they’d like to save their work, the words can be spelled out on a line of white glue on a piece of cardstock or an index card. The glue will be invisible when dry, and the cardstock can then be cut into appropriate sizes, creating miniature word-cards (add small magnets to the backs of the cards for even more versatility; a steel cookie sheet makes a good lap desk). These cards can be arranged into sentences, poetry, or lists of rhyming words or spelling patterns, and saved in a zipper bag for another day. Be serious, get silly, have fun with nonsense words, or use the letters to form the answers to lesson worksheets, and the learning will take on a whole new dimension. Don’t stop with just phonics, spelling, and grammar, however. Use these letters to practice spelling place names for geography, complicated scientific words for science or chemistry, or important people, places, and events for history. The letters can easily be scooted apart to break words into syllables or prefixes, suffixes, and root words—a great method for word study, and it adds a memory link for better recall later.

The tiny pasta numbers can be used for sorting and matching or set up as math statements by writing operation symbols on paper, leaving blank spaces for the numbers. Select specific numbers or grab random pieces for a new twist on math problems. Younger students will enjoy the challenge of putting the numbers in order or experimenting to see how many different numbers can be formed from just a few digits. Keep the pasta dry and away from toddlers and the family dog, but rest assured that a new supply is readily available in case too many pieces get stepped on, eaten, or sucked up by the vacuum cleaner!

Workshop Wednesday: ABC Flashcards

Anyone want to upcycle some of that ubiquitous cardboard packaging that passes through our homes and turn it into teaching/learning tools? You’re on! Let’s make some flashcards!!

DIY flashcards from upcycled cereal boxes

This week’s photo actually shows three related sets of alphabet flashcards that measure 3” square. Call these approximate measurements, because no one needs to waste precious time obsessing over the precision and exactness of something we’re making for free. I collected cereal boxes, brownie mix boxes, popsicle boxes, tissue boxes, pudding cup boxes, and pretty much every flavor of thin cardboard box that was large enough to cut up into something else. Confession: I made these with a paper cutter, but only because I saved up and treated myself to one. During most of our homeschooling years, I used a ruler and scissors for projects like this, and the results were just as good.

Open the boxes flat and start measuring and cutting. Again, don’t let perfectionism sidetrack you with thoughts of non-90-degree corners or less-than-perfect sides. Your students can learn from playing with these cards even after they are rescued from an eager-to-play-fetch-with-anything puppy. When you have a decent supply of cards cut from the cardboard, grab your Sharpie marker and write on the blank sides. Here we have one set with upper case letters (upper left), a set with lower case letters (lower center), and a set with both upper and lower case letters in pairs (upper right). I have also made sets with numbers 1-100, states and capitals, and many other topics that I hope to address in future Workshop Wednesday posts. (Anticipation!)

Bonus Tips:

  • I favor teaching letter recognition with upper case letters first, since reversals are less likely; then introducing the lower case letters as the “little brothers” of the capitals. Kids get it, even when the big brothers and little brothers don’t look exactly alike. Learning to group the larger and smaller letters as pairs is another method for avoiding reversals.
  • Making multiple sets of letters will allow your students to spell out vocabulary words, play word games, or leave traces of their newly-acquired knowledge all around the house as they spell out the names of every lamp, vase, and throw pillow.
  • If your students have mastered letter recognition, you can make 3×5” word cards and practice turning sounded-out words into sentences.

Learning Style Activities

Visual learners will appreciate flashcards with color, so you can either use colored markers for the main information or let your visual student draw designs on the edges and corners of the cards with colored pencils or fine-point markers to jazz up the natural gray or brown of the cardboard.

Auditory learners will love to read each letter aloud, no matter what activities or games you play with the cards. Switch things up by asking them to say the sound of the letter instead of (or in addition to) its name.

Tactile learners have already grabbed your new supply of flashcards and are spreading them out on the floor or table, rearranging the letters into words. That’s how you can confirm that you have a tactile student: their hands and fingers are into everything, learning as much as they possibly can about texture, heft, and balance. Please don’t scold them for grabbing and touching—it’s how they learn best. A tactile learner who is forced to keep his hands in his lap is like a visual learner wearing a blindfold. Seriously.

Kinesthetic learners will adore playing games with these cards, especially if you spread things out. Drop the stack of upper case letters on the floor in the living room. Drop the stack of lower case letters on the kitchen table. Now shuffle the “pairs” cards and place that stack in a neutral location somewhere between the other two piles of cards. Ask your student to look at the top card and run to find the matching letter cards from each of the other locations and bring them back. (Beginning students may need to take the pairs card with them for reference.) Grouping all three cards together will prove he brought the correct ones. Your energetic student can repeat this activity until he is worn out enough to sit down for reading time or some other lesson that requires seatwork.

Combine all learning styles into challenging activities that will help your students learn from all situations and all styles of teaching. Let your imagination run free with ideas and adaptations for your own students, living quarters, and academic needs. If the weather is agreeable, take the cards outside and combine relay races with spelling or vocabulary words. Mud puddles can’t destroy your prized set of flashcards, since replacements are easily made from the next empty box. You may soon find yourself rescuing cardboard boxes from the recycling bin and calling them your “homeschool supplies” as you think of more and more uses for homemade flashcards!