7 ways to use Flashcards with Children

Fostering speaking interactions is paramount in the language learning process. As a means to achieve this, I find using flashcards especially at elementary level a great learning tool.  It is the upside of this level as intermediate students deal with words that are more abstract concepts and are more difficult to represent in one picture.

Thus flashcards can be used to present new vocabulary, and /or can be used to review or revise vocabulary that has already been studied along the lessons.

They offer multiple opportunities to play with the language.

I present herafter a few activities that I have used and liked.


Audience : children.

Divide the class into groups of 3 to 5 students. Assign each group one flashcard. Example: Group 1= Elephant, G2=tigers, …Give the group instructions in the following way:  ‘touch your nose, tigers’.’wave your hands, lions’. Dont forget to say the instruction first and the flashcard 2nd to keep the children’s attention until they know if the instruction applies to their group or not. You can increase or decrease the level of challenge depending if you do the action yourself or not.


2- Hide & Seek

Audience: children.

Play this in teams. Spread the cards around the classroom face down when the students aren’t in the room.  Start playing by naming a card or writing the name on the board.  Then 1 student from each team should find it as fast as possible and bring it back to you or stick it on the board next to its name.

3-Flash the card

FAST: Show the students the flashcard very fast. They should be able to identify what is on the flashcard.

SLOWLY: Do the same thing, but this time cover the flashcard with a piece of paper and gradually reveal the picture, the students should identify the picture as soon as they can recognize it.

4-Guess the word

Can be played in teams. 

Version A) The most basic version: the teacher describes the picture or explains the word, the class should guess what it is.

Version B) One student picks a card card and needs to explain to the rest of the class what the word is. The team that guessed most words wins.

Version C) Each team asks one question at a time to one student at the front who can only answers yes or no.

5-What is missing ?

Stick the flashcards on the board and get the students to repeat the words. Ask the students to close their eyes and cover their eyes with their hands. Remove one of the flashcard from the board and hide it. Ask the children to  open their eyes and say what is missing. This can be done with realia.

 6-Magic Eyes

Stick the flashcards  in a row on the board (6 is a good number to use). Get the students to repeat the words with you in a rhytmic way. Do this a few times. Then remove the first card and continue in the same way. (a couple times).  Remove the next card the same way and repeat again….until you have removed all the cards.

Very good for training the students’ memory.


7- Memory Game

Print out pairs of cards, they can be 2 cards of the same ‘family’ (see Happy Family card games) or ‘a picture card’ and its ‘word card’ (See Flashcards) or 2 same picture cards.
Shuffle the pairs, you should have minimum 10 cards (or 5 pairs) and place them face down next to each others, they shoudln’t overlap.
Each player should return 2 cards , if they form a pair the student should name it, then she can keep the pair ans score a point, in this case she can play again.
If they don’t match, she places them back where they were and the next player returns 2 cards until they find a pair.
The player with the most pairs is the winner.


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