Lots of fun can be had with flashcards for learners of all ages. Here are a few games that are easy to set up and which I’ve played many times with my students over the years.
Note: Some of these games may not be suitable for face-to-face lessons during COVID-19.
1 Hidden picture
Write numbers on Post It notes and cover a flashcard with them so the image is hidden. Invite the children to call out numbers one by one. Remove the Post It with that number on and have the children guess what it is. To make the game more challenging, replace the Post It each time a wrong guess is made.
Tip: Have learners use full sentences or questions, e.g. I want to see behind number 3. Can you take off number 6?
2 Missing picture
Display the flashcards in a row or grid on the board. Have the children close their eyes (and if they are likely to open them, put their heads down on the desk). Quickly remove one of the flashcards. The children open their eyes and remember which picture is missing. To make the game more challenging, jumble the pictures each time.
3 Flash the picture
Show the class the flashcard for only a few seconds then invite them to say what they think it was. Tip: tell the children to remain silent, even if they know which flashcard it was. Then flash the card again, for a little longer if necessary. This will enable those learners who didn’t catch it the first time to see it again and also provides less-confident learners with more thinking time in which to come up with the word.
4 Through the keyhole
Cut out a keyhole shape (or any other shape) from a piece of card. The card should be bigger than the flashcard (A4 works well). Hold the card in front of a flashcard so that only a small section of the picture can be seen. You can keep the card still or move it around to reveal different parts of the picture.
5 Zoom in
If you have digital flashcards, you don’t need to prepare anything. For actual tangible flashcards you’ll need to take close-up photos of them or take a normal photo, upload it and then zoom in. Have pupils guess what the flashcard shows.
6 Musical flashcards
This game works well with very young learners. Have the children sit in a circle. Play some music and have pupils pass the flashcard around the circle. When the music stops (pause it strategically – like in the party game Pass the Parcel) – the child holding the flashcard must name it. For older children, have them name the flashcard as they pass it around. When the music stops, the child has to make a sentence containing the word.
7 Cross the circle
Have the children stand in a circle and give each child a flashcard or word card. Call out instructions that tell the children how to cross the circle. For younger children, instructions can be very simple, e.g. “Cats – jump across the circle!” Raise the level of the instructions as appropriate, e.g. “Jump across the circle if you’re a cat.” You can also call out sentences that describe the flashcards, e.g. “Cross the circle if you’ve got four legs” or “Cross the circle if you put these on your feet”.
8 Cup game
This is a version of the common scam played in cities and parks around the world! Place three paper cups upside down on the desk. In front of each cup, place a flashcard. Put a small ball or coin under one of the cups. Slide the cups around and have the children try to follow the one with the ball with their eyes. When you stop, they say which cup they think the ball is under by naming the flashcard.
9 Flashcard race
Stick the flashcards on the board. Put learners into two or three teams and have them stand in lines at a distance from the board. The first children in each line start. Call out a flashcard and have these children race to touch the flashcard. The first one gets a point for their team. They then go to the back of their line. Continue until everyone has had a turn.
Which of these games do you use? Are there any new games you’d like to try?