Ah, flashcards. Some music teachers love 'em, others can't stand 'em. I happen to enjoy using flashcards to review rhythmic and melodic concepts with my students. However, when we use flashcards in my classroom, we are never just reading flashcards. I've put together a list of six ways that I use flashcards to inspire fun and creativity in my music class:
1. Fly Swatter
This activity is fun for kids and you can be a little bit competitive with it! Attach several flashcards to your chalk or dry erase board. Divide the class into two teams and have one volunteer from each team stand in front of the board. Give each volunteer a fly swatter. The teacher* then reads one of the flashcards out loud. Whichever volunteer swats the correct flashcard first wins a point for his/her team.
*To increase student engagement/participation, you can assign another student the task of reader.
2. Big Circle
Arrange your flashcards on the floor in a big circle. (You should either have one for each student or half as many if you would like your students to work in pairs.) Have each student or pair stand in front of a flashcard and read the notes. Ring a bell or chime to signal for every student to move clockwise to the next flashcard and read it.
Anchor yourself at one flashcard and this can be an easy way to take a subtle assessment.
3. Heads Up
For this game, the teacher holds a flashcard above his or her forehead so that all the students can read it. Instruct the students to clap or sing the notes on the card. If the students recite it clearly and accurately, the teacher should be able to identify exactly which notes were on the flashcard.
To differentiate this activity, have stronger students play the teacher role and try to identify the notes. This makes a great center or small group game.
4. Project on an IWB
There are limitless options when it comes to electronic flashboards on your interactive whiteboard. You can find great videos on YouTube that have rhythmic playalongs to familiar songs. You can also get a ton of review games on Teachers Pay Teachers that make reading flashcards fun and interactive.
Assign students to be the "pointer" and the "mouse clicker" to incorporate more jobs in the classroom.
5. Memory Game
Display several flashcards. The teacher randomly picks two or more flashcards and recites them one after another. Students try to identify the patterns and arrange them in the correct order.
This can also be a fun hands-on activity if you have index card sized flashcards. You can give a stack to each student or group so that students can arrange them on their own.
6. Composition Inspiration
Coming up with a composition from scratch can be intimidating for young musicians. Try displaying rhythmic flashcards and asking students to assign a pitch for each beat for an easy melodic composition.
You could also display a number of flashcards and give students the option of which ones they would like to use and arrange them in whatever order they like.
I hope some of these ideas have inspired you or refreshed your memory with some great ways to use flashcards in the music room. If you need flashcards to get you started, I have a huge bundle of winter-themed flashcards available in my store right now. You can also see my entire Flash Cards collection to check out more options for the rest of the school year!