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Three Fun Flashcard Activities for Young Learners

 

I currently work at a University in Japan, but earlier in my teaching career, I taught young learners  from kindergarten learners all the way through to junior high and some high school level. I was fortunate because I worked at a language school that provided me with great training and support. There were regular training sessions, I was observed and coached by more experienced teachers, and I also had the opportunity to observe other teachers in action. During my time at the language school, I learned some really interesting and creative ways to use flashcards with young learners, and in this post I will share three of my favorites. I found them really useful in teaching vocabulary, sentence structures, and conversations, and none of them require any other materials or preparation. 

 

Slow and Fast Reveal

This is useful for introducing or reviewing vocabulary. First, select the card you want to teach or review. Cover the flashcard with a blank piece of card or the blank side of another flashcard. Then slowly reveal the card to the class. The students then should call out what the flashcard is. This is a good activity for classes of most sizes or ability. It’s up to you how dramatic you make it, and I recommend larger sized flashcards for bigger classes. You can vary the activity by sometimes revealing the card slowly and other times quickly. You can also play it in teams and make it more competitive by offering rewards or point for correct answers.

 

Ordering

This is a great activity for teaching sentence structures and grammar. Students also get some great listening practice too. Place a section of cards on the table in front of the students. (For larger classes, you will need multiple copies of the same cards.) The cards should make the phrase or sentence you wish to teach, and for this, I used to use a mixture of word and picture flashcards. Next, call out the cards in the correct order of the phrase or sentence. The group should then work together to put the cards in the correct order from left to right. With younger classes or beginners start simple. For example, you could try something as easy as “red bag”. You can then build up the complexity as they progress or get older.

 

Throw Away Flashcard

How you organize this will depend on the size of the class, and again, if you have a larger class you will need multiple copies of the same cards. First put the students into lines of 5-10 students. If there are five students in the line, hand the first learner six flashcards that you wish to review. Whisper to the first student in each line the flashcard that you want them to keep. That student should then throw away one of the five other cards. She or he should then whisper the word to the next student in the line and they throw away another card. Continue to the end of the line where the final student should have the card you chose. You can then rotate the order of the students in the line and repeat with another word. 

 

I hope you find these useful. I found they worked really well and the students enjoyed the more creative use of flashcards. Please let me know if you have any questions or comments. If you have any other good flashcard activities, please share in the comments section or on social media!

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Neil Millington

Neil Millington

Neil Millington has taught English as a foreign language in Japan for over 12 years. He has taught a wide range of age levels from pre-kindergarten students to adults. He is currently teaching at the tertiary level. He earned his BA at the University of Sussex in Brighton, England and his MA in TESOL at Lancaster University, England. Currently, Neil is working on his PhD in language learning motivation also at Lancaster University. Neil is also the co-founder of dreamreader.net, an English reading website with hundreds of free lessons for teachers and learners.
Neil Millington

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