Chambéry, Lessons, TAPIF
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Quick Lesson Ideas for Primary Assistants: Flashcard games!

Here we go, current/future assistants, just in time for the start of your contracts. My favorite, easy lessons, with little-to-no prep involved!!

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. This can be fun with colors if everyone has scraps of colored paper and must hold up the color you call out.
  • What is 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 outloud. 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. It takes a while to get the hang of this, but they absolutely LOVE it when you get the vocab wrong.
  • 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! I’ve also played where students have to act out full sentences like “I love to swim” or “I hate football”.  Pro tip: when you explain this game to your class, you may want to call it a “mime game” or a “jeu de mime” instead of “charades” because une charade in French is a word-based riddle game…
  • 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.
  • 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!
  • Scavenger hunt matching – This was a variation of memory that I played with my younger classes. I gave everyone a card, and hid the pairs throughout the room. They had to first tell me 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 – Who remembers playing this with multiplication tables in 3rd grade?? 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.
  • 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 identify the vocabulary on the cards? Which team can sort the cards into certain categories? The possibilities are endless.
  • Card games like Go Fish – This is good for practicing full sentences as well, like “Do you have…?”
    • There’s also a French card game called Jeu de 7 Familles which is pretty similar to Go Fish, but the goal is to group together the four family members of 7 different families. It’s obviously great for practicing family member vocab like mom, dad, grandma, etc. (Apparently this is called “Happy Families” in English, but I’d never heard of it until now–according to Wikipedia it was invented by the same company that created Tiddlywinks and Snakes and Ladders…the more you know!)

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! 


  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?


    • 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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