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Using flashcards to improve vocabulary – even for teens!

Using flashcards to improve vocabulary – even for teens!

It may seem counterintuitive to add yet another sensory stimulant when you’re struggling to memorize a word. But studies show that adding visual cues, auditory cues and even olfactory cues (such as sniffing lemon) can trigger memories – and not just the ones of you baking with Grandma!

And while flashcards from your childhood may conjure images of teddy bears and balls, there are some great options for teens looking to improve their vocabulary and test scores – both in class and on standardized tests like the SAT and ACT.

InsideStory Flashcards, for example, were created by a mother-daughter team seeking a way to help kids remember tougher words. Indeed, their flashcards are unforgettable – especially the “Cats & Dogs” set, a deck of 52 humorous cards that include color photographs, unique definitions, captions and even pronunciation. The vocabulary includes words like “corpulent,” “mirth” and “sojourn,” which might normally seem intimidating and, let’s face it, BORING. But the Cats & Dogs cards are funny. So funny that the stories and situations enhance the association, making the word easier to remember.

Here’s an example: The word is “rapt” as in “rapt observers.” (The definition is “completely absorbed.”) The card shows two basset hounds looking up in the air and the caption reads, “Five bucks says the cat’s a jumper.”

Here’s another example: The word is “infraction.” (The definition is “a violation of a law.”) The card shows a Boxer (dog) looking at the camera from behind the steering wheel and the caption reads, “No, officer, I had no idea I was going 560 in dog miles.”

Funny stuff!

Of course, no one says you have to buy flashcards. One mom says that when her daughter made flashcards (with drawings on one side and the word on the other), her standardized reading score improved significantly. Why not make the entire experience fun by cutting interesting photos out of magazines and then writing interesting sentences or funny captions with the next round of vocabulary words? You’ve got nothing to lose and capacious hippocampus to utilize!

Speaking of big brains ...

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