27 Nov 2012
Updated10 Jan2020

Simple games & activities to teach vocab using flashcards

ESL Kids FlashcardsThere are so many things we can do with flashcards and having a number of quick flashcard games and activities up your sleeve really helps when going through your vocab teaching routine. All of the ideas below can be thrown in as you are teaching new words or phrases.  They are all meant to be quick, easy and fun, so don’t spend much time on them and vary them for each new flashcard word and each lesson so Ss don’t grow bored with the same activities.

In order of ease to play (No.1 is the easiest) …

  1. Pass: Sit the Ss with you in a circle.  T holds up a flashcard or object and says its name (e.g. “Pen”).  T passes it on to the next S who also says its name and passes it on to the next S.  Variations: change directions, speed rounds, have many objects going round at the same time.
  2. Quick Peek: T holds a flashcard with the picture facing towards him/her.  T quickly shows it to the Ss for a quick peek.  The S who guesses the card wins a point.
  3. Slow motion: T holds a pack of flashcards with the pictures facing towards him/her.  The last card should be turned around so it is facing the Ss but is hidden as it is behind the pack.  Slowly pull the flashcard up inch by inch so the Ss can only see part of the flashcard.  As the picture is slowly revealed Ss try and guess what it is.  The first S to guess correctly keeps the card (for 1 point).  Variation: To make it a little more difficult turn the flashcard upside down.  
  4. Slam: Sit the Ss in a circle and place some flashcards in the middle of the circle.  Tell Ss to put their hands on their heads.  T shouts out the word of one of the flashcards and the Ss race to touch it.  The S who touches it first get to keep the object.  The S who has the most flashcards at the end of the game is the winner.
  5. Touch: Place flashcards around the room and have Ss run around the classroom touching the flashcards that T orders them to do (e.g. “Touch the car” “Touch the bicycle” “Touch the bus”).
  6. Vanishing Flashcards Game: place a number of flashcards in front of the Ss.  Give them a few moments to memorize the pictures and then tell them to close their eyes.  Take away one of the flashcards and then tell the Ss to open their eyes again.  The first S to guess the missing flashcard can win that flashcard (for 1 point) and take away a flashcard in the next round.
  7. Up and Down: You need 2 sets of flashcards for this game.  Give each of your Ss a flashcard from one set.  T keeps the other set.  Arrange the Ss so that they are all sitting down.  T holds up one flashcard and the S with the same flashcard stands up and says the word and then sits down again.  Play the game at a fast pace so that Ss are standing up and sitting down rapidly.  Variation:  Give each S 2 or 3 flashcards.
  8. Bean Bag Toss: Lay out flashcards face down up the floor.  Ss toss the bean bag and identify the flashcard it lands on.
  9. Jump On It: Spread out flashcards on the floor and have Ss stand at one end of the room.  Shout out a card and the Ss have to find the card and jump on it. The first S to do this wins a point.  Variation: Make 2 teams for a relay race.  The first 2 Ss try and jump on the flashcard first to win a point for their team. 
  10. Give Me Game: Elicit the different flashcards you have.  Then place all the flashcards around the classroom.  Tell the Ss to collect as many flashcards as they can.  Once the Ss have collected all of the flashcards (they’ll probably do their best to hide them in their pockets, etc.) T says “Give me a (bus)”.  The S with the (bus) flashcard should approach the T and hand it to him/her: “Here you are”.  Avoid having the flashcards thrown back to you as they can go anywhere and takes a long time to finish the game. Variation: instead of having the Ss collect the flashcards have them stand around the room, then T says “Give me a (bus)” and the Ss rush to be the first to find and give the card to the T.

If you need flashcards we have over 1,500 flashcards in over 80 categories.

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5 thoughts on “Top 10 Simple Flashcard Games & Activities”

  1. I love these flash cards and appreciate the new ideas. I have also printed them 9 to a page, laminated and get the students to work in pair – pointing and naming as fast as they can. Love the extra resources you’ve all been creating over the last months!

    1. Thank you for the comment Lianne. Nice idea … “speed flashcards” I guess you could call it! I also laminate all my cards – they’ll last forever!

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