Flashcard games!

Here we go, current/future assistants, just in time for the start of your contracts. My favorite, easiest games that require little-to-no prep!!

Plus, see here for my favorite art activities!

Flashcard games GALORE!!!!!

Flashcards and other visuals are so important to teaching new vocabuluary. Your colleagues may have flashcards you can use, especially for basic things like the weather, days of the week, or emotions, etc. But if they don’t, you should ABSOLUTELY create some. Simple clip art or hand drawn faces/sunshines/rain clouds/animals are all you need. There are tons of games you can play with vocab flashcards….here are a few of my favorites:

Show me – Very simple premise: ask a student to show you one of the vocab words. They come to the board and point to it. Or, you can pass out the cards and call out a word and the person with the corresponding card must hold it up. Another variation is to hang the flashcards on all sides of the room, and students must point to them when each is called.

What’s missing? – After learning the vocab on the cards, everyone closes their eyes while a card is removed from the lineup. Students have to figure out which one is missing! Especially tricky for days of the week or months!

Repeat if it’s correct – Point to a card and say the word out loud. If you say the correct word, for example pointing to the sunny card and saying “it’s sunny,” students repeat: It’s sunny! If you point to the sunny card and say, “it’s raining,” students say nothing.

Stand up! – Divide the class into 2 groups. Hang 4-5 flashcards on the left side of the board for one team, and 4-5 on the right side for the second team. Call out the words at random. The teams must stand up as quickly as they can when they hear a word that belongs to their team!

Charades – Students choose a vocab word, and act it out for their team without saying any words or making sounds. If their team correctly guesses, they get a point! Bonus points if they use a full sentence to identify the word! Or ask students to act out full sentences like “I love to swim” or “I hate football”. Pro-tip: Call this one “a mime game” or a jeu de mime instead of charades. Une charade in French is a type of riddle.

Memory – Have two copies of your flashcard set and flip them all so the images are hidden. The student turns over two cards, trying to make a matching pair. If she succeeds, she must name the vocab word. Play in teams if you want to make it more competitive. This can be played on the board with the whole class, or in small groups with mini sets of the flashcards.

Tic-Tac-Toe (Morpion)Choose 9 cards and lay them out on a 3×3 grid. You can have students come to the board to select the card, or label your columns and rows with letters/numbers (so the top left corner would be A1 and the bottom right C3, for example). The team that correctly names the card gets to put and X or an O in that square. The team that gets 3 in a row wins!

Telephone – Also known (bizarrely) as Chinese Whispers or Téléphone Arabe, this game requires students to whisper one of the vocabulary words to one another in a row. At the end, the last student must identify the flashcard with the corresponding word. If they are correct, they get a point!

Hot Potato – Students stand in a circle with one student in the center. Choose one flashcard, and repeat its name. When the music plays, the student in the center closes his eyes, and the card is passed around the circle. When the music stops, the student holding the flashcard hides it behind his back. The student in the center has 3 chances to guess who has the flashcard by asking “Do you have the ____ ?”

Scavenger Hunt Matching – Give each student a flashcard and hide the corresponding cards throughout the room. Students have to say the name of their card, then go find the matching one. This is a great activity for the Spring term: you can relate it to Easter traditions (Easter egg hunts!), and it can act as a review of vocab you’ve been working on for the whole year. ***Make sure you have PLENTY of space.

Around the World – In this game, students go head to head to identify a flashcard. The student who answers correctly first, competes against the next student. The goal is to see who can have the longest streak and get all the way around the classroom.

Guessing game – Using simple vocabulary, describe each flashcard without showing the image. (I am yellow and brown. I am very big. I have a long neck…) Students must guess which word you are describing.

Read my Lips – Mouth one of the flashcards, without making any sound. Students guess which word you are saying and repeat out loud.

Kim’s Game – Hang 8-10 flashcards on the board and have students repeat them several times. Give them one minute to study the flashcards, and then remove them from the board. Students work in pairs to make a list of all the words they remember. Check their memories by making a collective list.

Board Races – You can use board races to strengthen almost any concept (vocab, grammar, etc), and they’re easily used with your flashcards! Hang up two sets of flashcards and divide the class in two. Only one player at a time from each team is allowed to approach the board, so it’s basically a relay race. Which team can put the days of the week or the months in order first? Which team can tap the word that was called out first? Which team can sort the cards into certain categories? The possibilities are endless.

Bingo – Self explanatory…

Go Fish – This is good for practicing full sentences as well, like “Do you have…?”

There’s also a very similar French card game called Jeu de 7 Familles that uses cards grouped in “families.” The goal is to collect all the cards in the same family. Students practice the following construction: “In the green family, do you have the sister?” or “In the British family, do you have Big Ben?” (from a version where each family is a different anglophone country)

These flashcard games are a great thing to have in your back pocket to pull when you have an extra 10 minutes to fill, or to form the bulk of your vocabulary introduction! They are so so versatile and can be used and reused as often as you like and with many variations. The fun will especially come in once your students feel comfortable enough with the games and vocabulary to lead them themselves!!

Do you have a favorite game that uses flashcards?? Share in the comments! 

7 thoughts on “Flashcard games!

  1. I recommended your blog to some primary school assistants here in Boulogne 🙂 I really love your lesson ideas and they were talking about how they didn’t know where to start. I hope they check your blog out 🙂 Xx

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Anne! I am going to be an assistant in Nantes this coming year and I am so excited that I found your blog!! I will be in a primary school, and I was wondering, as far as explaining these games to the kids, do you do all of the explaining in English as well, or are explanations down mostly in French?


    1. Hey Colleen, that’s awesome!!! I’ve heard amazing things about Nantes. The easier flash card games are pretty easy to explain with very deliberate English and a lot of hand motions and modeling how it’s done. Games like go fish might be easier to just explain in French as long as you make sure to remind them that they must speak English!! Another good tactic is to explain in English and then ask a student who understood to re-explain in French. My school happened to be English immersion, so the kids could already understand most basic directions, but it will definitely help to teach them words like cut, color, match, glue, etc 🙂


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