Teaching from a textbook all day can be tedious for both students and teachers. Breaking up the time with interactive warm-ups, filler, and wrap-ups makes the lesson engaging and fun! One way to do this is with cards—both flashcards and playing cards. Using cards in the classroom also lets you sneak in some learning while your students think you’re just playing a game. Young learners, especially, respond well to games, and if the games are educational, there’s no reason to limit their use! Games can involve speaking, vocabulary, grammar, etc., but today I’ll focus on ways to use vocabulary cards.
Card & Flashcard Games:
Try the following games with Sprout’s cards in the Card Games section of the Games Room. We have image/word card sets on animals, clothes, farm animals, fish and reptiles, fruit, jobs, prepositions, verbs, and adjectives!
1. Memory (also known as Concentration): Print out one set of images and one set of words per group of 4 or more students. Lay out cards facedown in a grid. Students take turns flipping over two cards. If the word and image match, they can keep the pair and go again. If not, they flip them back over and another student takes a turn. At the end, the student with the most pairs wins!
2. Go Fish: Print out one set of images and one set of words per group of 4–6 students. Deal out 5 cards to each student. One student asks another, “Do you have a ______?” and tries to match the word or image of a card they have in their hand. If the student has the card, he or she must hand it over and it’s still the first student’s turn. If the student doesn’t have that card, he or she says “Go fish.” The first student must then take a card from the deck, and it’s the next student’s turn. The object is to collect word/image pairs and get rid of all the cards. At the end, the student with the most pairs wins!
3. Matching Game: Half of the students get an image card, and half get a corresponding word card. Students must find their match by giving clues. (Example clues with animal cards: I have fur, I can swim, I live in the forest, etc.)
4. Guess Who? Tape one animal card image to the back of each student. Students then circulate in the class asking Yes/No questions until they can guess who they are. (Example questions with animal cards: Do I have fur? Can I swim? Do I live in the forest? etc.)
5. Pictionary: Divide the class into two teams. One student from team A comes to the board, picks a word card, and draws the image on the board. The team has 30 seconds to guess—if they do, they get a point. At the end, the team with the most points wins!
6. Spelling Bee: Divide the class into two teams. Show a picture card to one student from team A. If he or she can spell the word correctly, that team gets a point. At the end, the team with the most points wins!
7. Pronunciation Bee: Same as the spelling bee, but show the word card (or write it on the board) and have the student try to pronounce it correctly.
8. Animal Sounds: For animal cards only. Make sure you only choose cards that have recognizable animal sounds. Play as a class. One student chooses a card and makes the animal noise. Whoever can shout out the name first gets the card, and the student with the most cards wins!
9. Plan a Zoo: For animal cards only. Divide students into pairs or groups. Give students a stack of animal cards and tell them they must plan their zoo. Tell them that space is limited, so they must pair up some of the animals and give reasons for their choices.
Other Game Ideas:
- Flashcard Fun! 10+ Ideas & Resources by Shelly Terrell
- Animal Battle – An ESL Card Game for Practicing Comparative Adjectives by Tara Benwell
Have any other card game suggestions? We’d love to hear them in the comments section below!