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5 Simple But Effective ESL Flashcard Activities

5 Simple But Effective ESL Flashcard Activities | ITTT | TEFL Blog

If you teach English to Young learners, then you will know that flashcards are one of the best tools a teacher can take with them into the classroom. So here I want to share five activities with flashcards. I hope you like my flashcard activities in this essay.

This post was written by our TEFL certification graduate Ma M. Please note that this blog post might not necessarily represent the beliefs or opinions of ITTT.

What are flashcards?

But before I share these activities, I want to write some tips about them. First, flashcards are mainly used to review and reinforce the language. If you are using flashcards with a new language, make sure you pre-teach the vocabulary on the flashcards before going ahead and playing any activity.

Second, whenever possible, laminate your flashcards, you’ll find that they last many months or years.

At last, many of these activities are high-energy and you need to use your self-judgment on which are suitable for your classes, some activities will work, some will not. Particularly with race-style games, keep an eye on safety. Use these activities at your discretion.

The following are these five activities with flashcards:


This flashcard game is especially for when you are teaching “Where are you going?” and ‘going to’ + places in the town to your kids.

Pre-teach places around the town and make sure that the kids understand the structure “I’m /We’re going to…”

The teacher walks slowly around the classroom holding a flashcard at chest height and asks a student “Where are you going?”

The student answers “I’m going to ..”(whichever flashcard the teacher is holding). The student then joins the ‘the train’. Keep changing flashcards and asking different students so they join the growing train.

Make real train noises and keep it fun; your kids will love it! Don’t leave one child until the end. Have the last 3-4 students join together so they don’t feel last!

Also Read: "How can English Influence a Student's Future Career?"

2. MEMORY MASTER (How many flashcards can you remember?)

A nice flashcard game to play when you have quite a large amount of vocabulary to memorize and work through.

Have your students move their chairs and be seated in a circle, or just all sat on the floor in a big circle, whichever is easier. Within the circle, layout your flashcards facing upwards for everyone to see. Have one flashcard for each student.

Choose one student to be the Memory Master. Each student, in turn, going around the circle must call out a flashcard word. In the end, the Memory Master must say which card belongs to which student trying to get around the circle without making a mistake. Give others a try and the repetition and concentration will help students recall the vocabulary very effectively.

3. VOLCANO (Don’t touch the lava!)

This is just perfect for kids aged 3-6 years old.

Review your flashcards with the class and then tell the class that the floor is lava and very, very hot! Bend down and touch the floor and pretend to burn your finger to show your kids and to raise a laugh with them.

Tell your students that they need to get from one side of the room to the other, but must not touch the floor. Place your flashcards in a long and winding line across the floor.

To get from one side of the room to the other, the kids must use the flashcards as stepping stones across the lava students can only step on a stone once they ‘ve said what word it is. Let each student go one at a time and give lots of praise when they reach the other side.

Also Read: "How Reading Nourishes the World"


This flashcard activity is particularly good for young children.Have all of the children standing up in the middle of the classroom. The flashcards are clouds and have the children call out the name of the flashcard the teacher is holding as it flies, dances and swoops around the floor and the classroom.

If the flashcard (the cloud) goes above a child’s head, he or she must quickly shout ‘Go away!’ or the flashcard rains down and bops them on the head! The kids love this one!


Sit down in a circle and pass the first flashcard to the child on your right hand. As you pass the card say the word or a story sentence. For example, ‘Apple, I like apples. This is a red apple….” Around the circle.

In the meantime, you have passed a new card to the first student. Then another, then another and so on. Students are then continuously receiving cards and passing them on, saying the correct word or phrase.

Start slowly at first and gradually speed up. When they have had some practice with this and can do it quite well. You make the activity more complex.

Instead of only passing the cards round in one direction. You pass a card to the student on your right but then you pass the next card to the student on your left. So cards are moving around the group in both directions.

Do you want to teach English abroad? Take a TEFL course!

It’s a good way to develop vocabulary and to get your students to use short phrases.

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