Top-5 Fun Flashcard Activities
Flashcards can be great tools for eliciting vocabulary, but teachers should not overlook the numerous other uses for these great tools. Flashcard games can add excitement to young learners’ classes. The following activities are aimed to drill the vocabulary in the second study phase of the lesson, after the elicitation of vocabulary.
This post was written by our TEFL certification graduate Kiyomi Ann H. Please note that this blog post might not necessarily represent the beliefs or opinions of ITTT.
1. Game for liars
The liar game is a flashcard activity that can be used to drill vocabulary. This activity is ideal for vocabulary that a teacher is introducing as the activity involves repeating after the teacher. For this activity, the teacher should clap twice, point to a flashcard and say the vocabulary word. If the word and the flashcard match, students should clap twice and repeat the word. If the word does not match the flashcard, students should make an X with their arms and stay silent. This activity allows teachers to drill the correct pronunciation of the target vocabulary. It also presents an opportunity to check students’ knowledge.
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2. Get on the other side of the bridge
The bridge game is another game to drill vocabulary. In the bridge game, flashcards are posted on the blackboard in a row. The students from two teams and the teams start on opposite sides of the blackboard. The teacher should initiate the start of the game. The first student in line from each teach must say the targeted vocabulary of the card that is at their end of the blackboard, moving card by card towards the opposing team’s player as quickly as possible while still saying the target vocabulary clearly. When two players meet, they will face off in a rock-paper-scissors match. The loser should line up at the back of their team’s line and the next student in line from the losing team should start on the line up of vocabulary from the first card on their side of the board. The winning player should continue from the word that they stopped on. When a player reaches the last card on the board and wins rock-paper-scissors, their team receives a point. Students in line should be encouraged to help their teammates when their teammates don’t know the words. It is important for the teacher to monitor both teams for correct pronunciations and to ask the students to repeat a flashcard if the word is incorrect. The bridge game is best used in small-sized classes, or the time in line can become too long. The students must be a little bit more familiar with the vocabulary being drilled in this activity, as the students are expected, on one level, to be able to monitor each other for mistakes.
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3. Memory challenge
The missing game is a good vocabulary memorization challenge. The teacher should set up the flashcards on the blackboard. The students are then given 20 seconds to memorize the cards on the blackboard. Then the students should cover their eyes, and the teacher will take a card off the blackboard. The students are then told to open their eyes and asked to identify the missing card. This activity can be used to practice target phrases as well. For example, when playing with fruit flashcards, the teacher can ask “What fruit do you like?” and the student should identify the missing flashcard in the phrase “I like missing fruit.” To keep this activity enjoyable, make sure it is challenging. This can be done by removing several cards each round or shuffling all the cards in each round. The memorization game gives students a fun incentive to memorize target vocabulary.
4. Keyword race
For a small class, it is possible to play Karuta with a pair of flyswatters. Karuta is a game where the teacher says a keyword and two opposing students race to tap the correct flashcard with their fly swatter first. The student who taps the card first earns one point for their team. Depending on the level of the student, the keyword can be delivered within a sentence. This exercise is to help students develop their listening skills. If students are just slapping cards wildly in hopes of being first to tap the correct card by chance, the teacher may have to instate a rule that students may only tap one card per round.
5. More for listening skills
Another listening activity using flashcards is the Siren’s Call. Place your flashcards on the walls around the room, be sure to leave enough space between the cards so that when a group of students stands in the area in front of a card that it is clear which card they are gathered in front of. Have the students stand in the middle of the classroom, the teacher will then say a vocabulary word. The students must repeat the word as they race to stand in front of the corresponding flashcard. This activity may also be good if students seem like they need a break from sitting behind a desk.
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The activities that I’ve mentioned in this paper are targeted at elementary level students. Often game style activities can be a fun way to encourage students to memorize English vocabulary. Flashcards are tools that teachers will often have prepared for the lesson’s study phase. For busy teachers, flashcard games may be appealing because they often require no further preparation beyond the creation of the flashcards themselves.
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