As a teacher, there are many ways of exploiting and integrating flashcards that provide your learners with opportunities to practise their English in a variety of enjoyable and motivating ways. Here are some ideas for using the flashcards on LearnEnglish Kids. Whilst these activities take the A-Z animal flashcards as an example, they could be used with any topic. You'll find the ABC Zoo flashcards, and flashcards about other topics, on this page of LearnEnglish Kids: http://learnenglishkids.britishcouncil.org/en/parents/learning-resources
Introducing and practising vocabulary with flashcards
Present songs and stories through flashcards, such as ABC Zoo. Elicit key vocabulary from the cards and encourage your learners to interact both nonverbally and verbally through actions, mime and repetition.
- Introduce each vocabulary item with the flashcards. Ask your learners to respond nonverbally to the flashcards through actions. For example, can they move like pumas or sloths?
- Place the flashcards around the room -on the wall, door, window, chairs, floor. Ask your learners to point to the correct flashcard when they hear it. Depending on the size of the class, learners could run to the correct part of the room or stand next to the correct card.
- Give each of your learners a set of flashcards and ask them to show you the correct card when they hear the item, for example, you could say, "Show me the giraffe!" "Hands up if you've got the jellyfish!" "Point to the yak!" This activity works very well in teams - give each team an equal number of flashcards - the first team to show you the correct item scores one point!
- Choral drill the vocabulary on the flashcards, as a whole class, teams or small groups in turn. This can be great fun when drilled in different ways. As you show your learners the cards say the words slowly, happily, angrily, loudly, quietly or like an orang-utan, for example!
- Place five or six flashcards in a line on the board or on a table everyone can see. Drill each item and remove the last card. Drill again, up to and including the missing item. Remove another card. Continue in the same way until all the flashcards have been removed and your learners can remember all the missing items!
- In order to keep your learners on their toes you could ‘flash' the flashcards fast, upside down or back-to-front (just so they can see the outline of the picture or word through the paper!) and ask them to identify the item. Alternatively, you could cover the flashcard with another piece of paper and only slowly reveal the picture or the letters of the word. Invite guesses before the item has been completely uncovered.
- Colour code and/or number your flashcards. Once you have shown your learners both the animal and its corresponding colour/number, place the cards face up on the board or a table. Now ask, "What colour/ number is the aardvark?" Next, place the cards face down and ask, "What's red/blue/green?" "What's number 1, 2,3?"
- Ask your learners to pretend they are parrots or robots. They must repeat exactly what you say-as good parrots and robots do-but only when you say the correct word! When you say the wrong word they do not repeat it. Now show them the flashcards one by one, for example,
Teacher: (with the aardvark flashcard) An aardvark!
Parrots: An aardvark!
Teacher: (with the vulture flashcard) An emu!
- Show your learners the flashcards one by one, placing each card behind the other. Tell them that when they see the word ‘walrus', for instance, they must shout "Stop! Walrus!" Continue with a different animal until they have correctly identified each word (or picture) on each card. You might like to give a set of flashcards to a ‘teacher' in each group for further practice.
- Ask your learners if they like the items on the flashcards. Your learners can respond by putting up their left hand for ‘yes', their right for ‘no'. Alternatively, they could shout ‘Hurray!' or ‘Boo!', then finally ‘Yes, I do!' and ‘No, I don't!'
- Finally, to return to the original song or story, you could give your learners a copy of the flashcards and ask them to reorder the verses or storyline or to recreate a simple version of the song/story themselves. They could then rehearse the story or song and perform to the class.
Playing games with flashcards
Here are a variety of favourite games your learners will enjoy playing whilst practising their language skills and recycling target vocabulary.
- Bingo! Give your learners a photocopy of the animal flashcards and a blank bingo card. Ask them to choose X number of animals, depending on the number of animals introduced, and stick them onto their bingo card.
Alternatively, they could either draw or write the names of the animals. Place a complete set of flashcards into a hat and pull them out one by one. The first player to cross off all the animals on their bingo card shouts "Bingo!"
- Noughts and crosses! Select 9 animal flashcards and number them 1-9. Draw a grid on the board, numbering each square 1-9. Divide your learners into two teams, noughts (O) and crosses (X). In turn, each team chooses a number between 1 and 9. If noughts chooses square 5, for example, show them flashcard 5 and ask them what it is. If they can correctly identify the card, draw (O) in the square. Each team should try to choose squares that block the other from making three in a row, horizontally, vertically or diagonally.
- Categorise! Give each group a set of flashcards and ask them to put them into categories. For instance, the animal flashcards could be divided into those with four legs, those with two; those that can fly, those that can't.
- Guess what it is! Place a number of flashcards on the board. Describe one of the animals on the cards without saying its name, for example, "It's big.... It's got wings... It can't fly but it can run..." The team that guesses the correct animal wins a point.
- Back to the board! Ask half your learners to sit with their backs to the board, the other half facing them. Place a flashcard on the board. The learners facing the board must describe the animal to their other half without saying what it is. The first player to guess the animal correctly wins a point.
- Board rush! Place the flashcards on the board. In teams, ask your learners to line up a little distance away from, but facing, the board. Ask your learners to run and touch the correct flashcard when they hear it.
- Snap! Give each group of learners a set of flashcards with two copies of each card. Ask them to shuffle and deal the cards equally, face down. Each player now has a pile of cards. In turn, the players turn up a card, say what it is and place it in the middle of the table. If a player turns up a card which is the same as the previous one the first player to say "Snap!" wins all the cards. The game ends when one player has all the cards.
- Pelmanism/Memory! Give each group of learners a set of flashcards with two copies of each card. Ask them to place them, one by one, face down on the table. In turn, each player turns up two cards and says what they are. If they turn up the same cards, they keep them and have another go. If the cards are different, they replace them and the next player has a go. The player with the most pairs is the winner.
- Kim's game! Place the flashcards on the board or a table. Ask your learners to close their eyes. Remove a card. Ask them to open their eyes and tell you which card is missing. For even more of a challenge, gradually increase the number of cards that you remove! Having demonstrated the activity, this is another game your learners can play together in groups with their own set of flashcards.
When you have used some of these ideas, why not come back to this page and leave a comment below to tell us how your class went. Let us know too if you have any additional ideas!
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