Title Cards for Shichida Flashcards

A while back I posted about a set of Shichida Flashcards from China that you can purchase from taobao. Since then I’ve had a couple of emails asking me to share my classification, and I kinda sat on them for a while..I apologise for all the super late emails!

You can download the long long list of categories here- shichida flashcard categories.

(Even if you didn’t decide to splurge the $700+ on this set, this list will still be beneficial for you to construct your own flashcard sets!)

Here’s a bit of an elaboration on how to use this with the set from China:
– Some big categories (eg. animals, flowers, fish) need to be subdivided. For example, ‘animals’ becomes ‘animals 1’, ‘animals 2’, etc. Not all can fit into 10 cards per set so some sets had +1 or -1 cards.
– There were some cards that did not fall neatly into a set. Those need to be creatively inserted into one.
– Some cards made no sense at all!!! (For example, the monday – sunday cards, the pictures make no sense.) For those, I looked at the picture and gave them a new name, and wrote the words on the back of the cards, then inserted them into a suitable category.
– As for the verbs, give up sorting them. I grouped them into ‘verbs 1’, ‘verbs 2’ etc..in shichida class they have flashcard sets like ‘words ending with ‘p”, for example. You could try that of you have plenty of time (and patience!).

I hope this post clarifies some of the questions out there!

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Shichida Musical

A regular activity in Shichida class is something they call the ‘Shichida Musical’. In this activity the teacher plays a song with a theme (for example colours, or going to the zoo), and flashes flashcards to represent some key words of the song.

It’s quite interesting and as Samantha seems to enjoy it quite a lot in class, I decided to incorporate it into my home practice. There’s no way I can ever compose a song, so I made flashcards for a few nursery rhymes, children’s songs and Disney songs. I used YouTube to play the music in the background while I sing along and flash the cards as the words are sung. Here’s some examples (minus my singing)..


Incy Wincy Spider


Three Blind Mice



Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes

I think this is a refreshing alternative to the usual flashcard routine. Showing her flashcards instead of the YouTube clip also helps to  reduce the amount of computer/television screen time Samantha is exposed to. Currently, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends avoiding screen time in children under the age of two years old.

Arguments Against Flashcards

Having published so much about Shichida and flashcards, I may have come across as a strong advocate for flashcard use, but till this day I still remain uncertain whether it is truly beneficial. To maintain some balance here are some of my findings against flashcards-

I came across this blog, written by a mum who started as a firm believer in Glenn Doman’s methods but realised later that she was wrong.

The article she has written is long, but it talks about her experience with Glenn Doman’s methods and was a really good, thought provoking read for me – Am I doing more harm than good to Samantha?

I have previously written about the whole word approach and its controversies in a previous post. In her article, she writes about her experiences with flashing words to her child, only to find out much later that he was still not able to read (I don’t believe that it is due to her lack of commitment to the teaching system, her devotion is shown by the numerous ‘bits’ Powerpoints that she has made and put up on her website for all to download).

Her argument is valid and I cannot help but agree with her, At the same time, I notice some similarities with the Shichida method-

  • the use of flashcards
  • the claim that all children are born geniuses
  • no one in Philadelphia seemed to know about the Institutes (I have spoken to a few Japanese mothers and none of them seem to have heard of the Shichida Method. I find it unusual if it is supposed to be so popular.)
It is very easy for us to fall victim to programs that claim ‘brain enrichment’, especially in our highly competitive society, where children have to take a high-stakes PSLE at 12 years of age. What is really good for our children? Unfortunately there is too much contrasting information and ‘noise’ out there that clouds our judgement..

Here’s another article online written by Dr Pat Wolfe, an education consultant who has written books and gives talks on the application of brain research to educational practice. It is a well-written article that lays down the bare facts, and leaves reader to make his own final conclusion. There are also a few other articles on the same site that are good reads too. What I take away from reading all this is that one should not place too much emphasis on flashcards, educational DVDs, etc, as the child learns best by having ‘natural interaction’ with the world.

Last, but definitely not the least (in fact, if there is anything you should read it has to be this), a good book for all parents interested in learning about the research behind the importance of play is ‘Einstein Never Used Flashcards: How Our Children Really Learn–and Why They Need to Play More and Memorize Less‘. You can find a sample of the book (almost the whole book is available for free here) on Google Books.

Review of ‘My Favourite Genius’ Flashcards

I recently bought a set of flashcards from the local school. This was not part of the ‘recommended buys’ for under 1 year of age, but I bought it anyway, as I thought it would be good to have more flashcards.

my favourite genius

my favourite genius back

It comprises 21 sets of flashcards, with varying themes.

Each set has one cover card and 8 flashcards.The flashcards are all cartoon pictures.

my favourite genius 2

Most of the flashcard themes are ok, but there are some strange ones – there is one set ‘dreams’, which I think is quite..innovative.

my favourite genius 1

The set cost $72.50. The cost per card works out to 38 cents per card (if you include the title cards) and 43 cents per card (if you don’t count the title cards. (For comparison,  the China set that I bought that was 41 cents per card.)

Here are some of the issues I had with this set-

  • All the cards had their top right hand corners cut, so it facilitates taking the cards out of the box, but it doesn’t help differentiating one set from another during a flashcard session. I had to invert every other set of cards so that their corners were opposite to each other.
  • The concepts in this product are more ‘advanced’ than just teaching normal nouns or names of common items, so I think this is probably meant for slightly older toddlers (I don’t find it suitable for a baby under one year of age – I would rather flash pictures of fruits and vegetables to them) Ok, this is my fault since I bought it without the school’s recommendation.
  • One of the sets was labeled ‘memories’ and you were supposed to attach your photos to the cards. While this is quite a nice deviation from the ‘usual’ flashcards, I find it a waste of my money to be paying 38 cents each for blank flashcards. I would think most people buy these flashcard sets so that they can save the time and effort of making these cards themselves right?

Overall, a rather costly set. It is a fair buy if you are desperate for a new set of flashcards to show and are not so particular of the occasionally unusual flashcard themes.

Review of ‘Number Random Dots’ Flashcards

Here is a review of a later version of dot flashcards sold by the local Shichida school. The earlier ones are no longer being sold (If I’m not wrong they are called ‘variety dots’ and ‘organised dots’) so you will have to get a pre-owned set if you are interested..
number random dots
number random dots 2
This flashcard series contains 50 cards, with each set of 10 cards in different shapes. The cards are of good quality, thick paper, and all the corners are pre-cut.
number random dots 3
I don’t have much to comment or complain about this product, except that it costs $29.80, and works up to 64 cents per card, which is a little costly…Otherwise, this is an ok buy, especially if you are too lazy to make your own dot flashcards.