Clothing & Shopping Activities Using Flashcards

Learning new vocabulary can be a struggle for English language learners. Teachers can make it easier and more interesting with flashcards! This week our Spotlight was on Clothes in the Card Games section of our Games Room, and we wanted to give teachers some suggestions on how to use these flashcards in class. If you have your own favorite flashcard activity, please write it in the comments section below—we’d love to hear it!

Activities with Cards/Flashcards for Clothes & Shopping:

1. Dress Up: Put students into pairs and have them draw two stick figures (a man and woman or a boy and girl). Give each student a set of flashcards and tell them to place the clothing pictures on the stick figures to “dress them up.” Students should discuss their choices using the clothing vocabulary. You can repeat this activity using different themes such as formal, casual, business, etc. Ask each pair to come up with a theme to share with the class.

2. Silly Dress Up: As a variation of the first activity, have students draw images of animals, monsters, aliens, etc. to dress up (instead of people).

3. What’s in My Closet? Print out two sets of flashcards, shuffle them up, and tape them to the wall area that you decide is the “closet” (or use the door of the coatroom if you have one). Divide the class into two teams. Start by saying, “In my closet there’s a…” (e.g., In my closet there’s a dress!). The first two students from each team should run to the “closet” and find a dress card. The first person to bring a dress card back to their group (or to you) gets a point. Repeat with the remaining clothing.

4. What’s on My Clothesline? As a variation to the third activity, tape a piece of string to the wall, bring some clothes pegs, and pin the cards on the string. Continue as above.

5. Shopping: Divide students into customers and boutique owners. The owners must decide on pricing and displays. The customers get $100 to spend as they wish. Pair up the students and get the owners to describe the clothing and the customers to explain their choices. After the customers have made their purchases, have the customers move on to the next boutique. If you want, have the owners write receipts for written vocabulary practice and have the customers keep track of all their purchases so that they don’t overspend. This might be good for a math class too! (For a sample shopping dialogue, see A Pair of Jeans in our Conversation Station.)

General Card/Flashcard Activities:

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 clothing cards: You can wear them on your feet, They are often made of leather, etc.)

4. Guess What? Tape one card image to the back of each student. Students then circulate in the class asking Yes/No questions until they can guess what they are. (Example questions with clothing cards: Am I formal? Am I casual? Am I worn on people’s legs? Am I worn on people’s feet? 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.

*General ideas were taken from my blog post: 9 Ways to Use Cards & Flashcards in Class. See the full post for more ideas.

For more flashcard and card game ideas, check out this post by Shelly Terrell on our sister site, ESL Library: Flashcard Fun! 10+ Ideas & Resources.

Find 32 clothing flashcards in the Games Room – Card Games.


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Tanya Trusler

Tanya is a freelance editor and writer with an extensive background as an ESL teacher. She edits lesson plans, creates new materials, and writes weekly blog posts for ESL-Library and Sprout English. Her company is Editing to a T. Follow her on Twitter (@tanyatrusler) and Google Plus.

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