15 Flashcard Activities for Any Pre-school English Class

By Alex Case
Great ideas for kindergarten, including problem classes such as large classes, mixed-level classes etc

These ideas are designed to work with every kind of kindergarten class, including typical problem classes such as large classes, classes that can’t move around, mixed level classes, classes with very low level students, classes that study very little English and classes with short attention spans and other discipline problems. All of these ideas help make a simple set of pictures that you can produce for free something that is guaranteed to make all your classes a great learning experience for little kids.

1. Slow reveal
Cover the flashcard with something, e.g. another flashcard backwards, and slowly draw the covering card back until a few students have shouted out what it is (either in English or in their own language if they don’t know it in English yet). This works both with cards they know well and ones they are seeing for the first time. This also works with word recognition.

2. Up/down/left/right slow reveal
In this variation of Slow Reveal, the students can choose if they want you to move the covering card up, down, left or right. Move it a little in the direction most of them shout out and stop while they try to guess what the covered card is. Continue with other requests for which way you should move it (including more in the same direction) until they have guessed what the flashcard represents. With students who have learnt how to work in teams, it can also be used this way. This can also be used to practice recognising written words by word shape, first letters and last letters.

3. Slow reveal grid
In this version of Slow Reveal, the card is covered with something that can be taken away section by section. Ways of making this include covering a large flashcard with smaller cards stuck on with blutack or sellotape, and a paper cover with doors made with a cut up piece of blank paper. After each section is taken away the students guess what the whole picture represents. If the sections are marked with something such as letters of the alphabet or numbers, the students can request which part they want taken away- similar to Up/Down/Left/Right Slow Reveal above.

4. Flashcard pictionary
If students have got bored with seeing the actual card but you still want to practice the language one more time (necessary over and over with pre-school classes), the teacher or a student could draw the picture from the card line by line on the whiteboard or blackboard. When people have guessed what it is, comparing the original picture and the picture on the board is always worth a laugh and most children take this well- but make sure that a sensitive child isn’t being laughed at!

5. Tracing pictionary
If the drawing ability of the teacher and/ or students is not up to Flashcard Pictionary, you can put a piece of tracing paper over the card and secretly trace one line from the picture. Show the class what has been traced to see if they can guess what it represents, then continue a line at a time until they guess. As children can be very slow doing the tracing when taking the teacher role, hold the tracing paper on the card for them, tell them which line to trace or just let them nominate the line and trace it yourself for them to hold up.

6. Grid pictionary
This is like a combination of Slow Reveal Grid and Tracing Pictionary. Before class, draw a grid on each piece of tracing paper you are going to use. The class or team say which segment of the grid they want to see first and the teacher or student traces just that part. Let the students guess once after each segment is filled, and then choose the next one to be drawn.

7. Flashcard flash
In contrast to all the ideas above, this one adds energy and speed to shouting out what is on a flashcard. Start with a flashcard pressed to your chest and then very quickly turn it around and flash it across the students’ line of sight, finishing by putting it back hidden against your chest. You should aim to do it quickly enough that the students can only guess what is on the card on the third or fourth attempt.

8. Guess from clues
Students guessing what card you are holding secretly against your chest from clues like “It has big ears” might seem like quite an adult game and not as obviously fun as the other revealing games described here, but not only do most kids love this game too, it also suits the kinds of kids who can be somewhat left out during those other kinds of games.

9. Long vowel sounds drilling
Once you have revealed what the card is, you can also use the card itself to help with drilling pronunciation (something parents and school managers tend to be very keen on with pre-school English classes). With long vowel sounds like the one in “car”, move the card very slowly from left to right in front of you as you pronounce the word with an exaggeratedly long vowel sound, getting the students to do the same. Speed up both the movement and the pronunciation until you are repeating it too quickly for even you to keep up with. After doing this with a few examples, you can also add interest by moving the card randomly quickly or slowly, getting the students to say the word at that speed without any other help.

10. Word stress drilling
Another way you can use the flashcard to help with drilling is to use it as a conductor’s baton to show the number of syllables and word stress. When students are so well drilled with this that they are starting to get bored with it, you can train them to only say the next syllable when you give the signal, e.g. baNA(long pause as you hold the card still)na or STRAWbe(long pause)rry.

11. Flashcard left right hand flash
Once you have revealed and drilled, the next stage is to combine two or more cards. The simplest and most high energy way of doing this is just to have one card in your right hand and the other in your left, hiding them behind your back and getting the students to shout out whatever one you randomly show. You can add some more challenge and fun by mixing them up behind your back so they sometimes appear in the opposite hand to the one the students last saw it in.

12. Stations
An even more high energy way of practising two pieces of vocabulary at the same time is to pin one of them to one wall of the classroom and the other to the opposite wall. Students then listen to what you say and run and slap either the flashcard (if there are few enough students and you aren’t worried about the card or students getting bashed up) or anywhere on the wall it is on. This works best with grammatical words (e.g. students run and slap “a” or “an” depending on whether the noun you say starts with a vowel or not) but can also work with descriptions of parts of the picture (“It is grey”, “it is big”, “It has a long nose” etc). In classes where students can’t get up and run round together, they can pretend to shoot the right flashcard.

13. Flashcard memory games
The next stage in combining several cards is to test students on what they just saw, e.g. “What colour is the monkey?” and “How many pigs are there?” A simpler one is to line the cards up, turn them face down and get the students to tell you what each one is. If you call each card “one, two, three”, “a, b, c” or “Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday”, you can practice that vocabulary at the same time as whatever is pictured on the cards.

14. Flashcard lying games
Hold up a flashcard, say something true or false about it (“It is dark blue” or “It is an apple”) and get the students to respond appropriately (“No, (it isn’t)”, “That’s wrong” etc). This can be combined with Stations above by students running and slapping “True” and “False” cards or “Yes” and “No” cards that you have stuck to the walls. It can also be combined with the action games Simon Says, with students only doing the mime you have taught them for that card when you say something it is true, e.g. putting their open palms above their heads and wrinkling their noses when you show a mouse and say “This is a mouse” and doing nothing when you say “This is a lorry” with the mouse card.

15. Flashcard shout out
This is another high energy way of tackling the vocabulary as a group rather than one at a time. In this game, students rush to shout out all the cards you are holding after you tell them what the category is, e.g. “Blue!”, “Red!” etc after you say “(I have) colours”. As they name each one you have, put them up where students can see them or give them to the students who shouted that one out first, loudest or most persistently. This works best if there is at least one card that they haven’t seen before and is fairly difficult to guess until long after all the other cards are gone, e.g. “gold” for colours or “lizard” for animals.

Written by Alex Case for Teflnet June 2008
Alex Case is the author of TEFLtastic and the Teaching...: Interactive Classroom Activities series of business and exam skills e-books for teachers
© Teflnet


  • Coco says:

    Hi there!

    I love your ideas. I will use them all in China.


  • alex says:

    unfortunately I know all of them. and I need sth creative and active.

  • Mary says:

    That’s just great, thank you so much, very helpful and creative!

  • J says:

    Hehehe, now the method is no longer secret. It’s out there for everyone! Fantastic. About time someone did the honourable thing and shared this information online. I teach kindi and this is the way to go! Right on! Now when everyone is doing it we’ll need new ideas – Hawhawhawhawhaw

  • rissa says:

    thaks so much…it’s great for me to apply in my class. i’m from indonesia

  • özlem gülsüm says:


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