Spotlight on School Supplies: Colored Index Cards

Bright, Edgy and Surprisingly Useful

I never expected to use colored index cards – or any index cards for that matter – in our homeschool. I bought some in a weak moment as I drooled walked down the aisles of our local office supply store.

Side note: If you read this blog for any length of time you’ll probably notice my fondness for office supplies. I’m not ashamed.  I’ll shout it from the rooftops…. “I LOVE OFFICE SUPPLIES!!!”  So many options! So many ways to be organized! So much potential in every package! 

*happy sigh*

Sorry, where was I? 

Oh. Right. Colored index cards. 

Even just their basic uses are pretty versatile. They can’t be beat as color-coded study aides or notecards for speeches. I remember them being super handy when organizing ideas for several of my own high school writing projects.  

Visual and kinesthetic learners especially benefit by writing key ideas and supporting points on index cards and physically moving them around to order their thoughts while creating verbal or written reports. 

Other common uses include recipe cards, short lists or organizing household information. 

But once I had them in the house, I found so many other uses for them beyond mere English class notecards.  

Here are a few of the ways we’ve used them in our homeschool:

Homemade Flashcards

This works well for math facts but they’d work for any subject or anytime you have information to memorize.

Quick Tip: Clip one corner of your DIY flashcards for easier clean-up. Just line up the clipped edges and you know they’ll all be right-side-up and facing forward for next time.

Colorful Parts for DIY or Printable Games

Cut into small pieces they can be counters or pawns. If you can’t find dice, cut an index card into sixths, write the numbers 1-6 on the pieces and pick them out of a hat.  

Art or Science Projects

Anytime a project calls for small pieces of sturdy paper, use an index card instead of cutting a tiny piece out of a full-size sheet of card stock.

Homemade Books of All Kinds

Small books can be bound on one edge like a regular book or single hole-punched and held together with a key ring at one corner. When used with hole reinforcement labels and laminated, these little books can be reused again and again over the years.

Notebook/Lapbook Pop-up Features

Index cards are perfect for accordion style fold-outs, mini-books, pockets and other common notebooking or lapbooking features. They are especially helpful where durability or lines for writing are needed.

Quick Notes & Lists

Encourage your kids by leaving colorful “I Love You” notes on their pillows or in their lunch bags. Or, just SAY “I love you” as you hand them their chore list, written on a colored index card. 😉

Scavenger Hunts

Obviously, regular paper works for this, too. But, if you already have them on hand, save the step of cutting large paper down and just grab some index cards. Use a different color for each child to do several scavenger hunts simultaneously.

Category Sorting Activities

Whenever you need to categorize information, lay out index cards labeled with category headers and then write the info to be sorted on quartered or halved cards. We’ve used this mostly for science (sorting pictures under the headings “Animals” and “Plants”, for example) and for practicing spelling rules (like when sorting spelling words with the /er/ phonogram under the headings “er”, “ur” and “ir”). 

***

One of my all time favorite uses for an index card was to study simple switches and electric circuits. I felt like Mommy MacGyver!  

“Kids, go get me a paperclip, an index card and a battery and we’ll build a rocket!” 

OK, that might be an exaggeration.

But we were able to do some pretty cool stuff with basic household supplies. For that and other cool science-related projects, check out SuperCharged Science for more info. (The index card experiment we did is from their Ultimate Science Curriculum – Robotics Vol. 1, Lesson #2 Simple Switches)

At first glance, you might be tempted to think of them as “just paper.” And I suppose technically you’d be right…

But their size, color, shape and sturdiness makes colored index cards a surprisingly useful go-to option for our homeschool. Next time you’re in the office supply aisle, grab a pack or two of these handy helpers. You’ll be glad you did.

Check out the first post in this series here and follow the links there to find out more about the other supplies that made the Top 5 list!

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Spotlight on School Supplies: Colored Index Cards on colored paper background