© Kids Club English 2022
In the young learner and very young learner classroom, we often use flashcard games to present and practise new language. Very often, these are whole class activities with the teacher managing the interaction.
As a teacher of preschool and primary students, I’m always looking for ways to help my young learners become more independent and increase the amount of interaction (and therefore language practice) taking place. This means increasing the amount of time the kids can practise in pairs and small groups.
This article will highlight ten of the best pair and small group card games that I use in my classes with children aged 5 and up.
Some things to bear in mind:
This is a fun game to play that keeps all the children engaged. In most guessing games, it is the child with the card who holds the secret. In this variation, it is the rest of the group that knows the secret, and the child with the card that has to guess.
This is a version of Kim’s game, where the children take turns at being the person who hides or disappears one of the mini-cards.
This is a simple guessing game, where the children ask questions to identify the cards. You can play it so that only only one child has a card that the others have to guess, but I like this variation so that every child in the group is practising both questions and answers.
You can vary the activity by:
This is one of my all time favourites. Most children are familiar with the game in their first language, and can easily engage with it in the English classroom. It’s adaptable to almost any language and you can combine it with other activities, such as mime, conversation practice, and run and point activities.
I also like that the person who ‘wins’, isn’t always the one who is strongest at English. It’s a great game for creating a sense of achievement for those kids that might be a bit weaker in your class.
This is a classic that I was more used to playing in front of the whole class, but it works very well as a pair or small group activity too. It’s also great for you as the teacher, to see how your learners conceptualise different things.
You can make it competitive by either:
This is another really fun game, that is normally played whole class in teams. Again, I think it works very well in small groups because everyone gets the chance to participate more. Basically, it combines language practice with throwing a paper ball in a basket.
Vary what they have to do, before getting the opportunity to score a basket. They can spell a word, write a word, make a sentence, do the action, etc. You can also add in a timer element. How many baskets can their group score in 5 minutes?
This game requires 4 sets of mini-cards per group of 4. If you have 3 learners per group, they need 3; if you have 5 learners, they need 5. The objective of the game is to try to form groups of the same card. The player with the most groups (or families) of cards at the end is the winner.
When the children play this game, they get multiple opportunities to use the new language, while practising asking questions.
Shuffle the cards and deal all the cards equally among the players.
Children take turns asking each other for cards, i.e., ‘Germán …have you got a guitar’. They can ask anyone in the group, not just the person sitting next to them. If the person asked has the card, they must give it to the ‘asker’. If they don’t have it, they say ‘No, I haven’t’ and play passes to the next person.
The game ends when either your set time limit is up OR when all groups have been formed.
This is a simpler version of ‘Go Fish’, which requires less card sets. You only need two mini-card sets per group.
The objective of the game is to win as many pairs as possible in the time given.
The game can end at different points:
This popular classic is still a hit with kids today! The children take turns trying to find matching pairs.
The traditional way of playing this game is competitive, but I have found that my 5 year olds are just as happy playing this when it is a group effort. In fact, they often want to help each other find the matching pairs.
I used to love playing this game as a kid. It’s fast paced and engaging, and the concept is easy for even the youngest ones to understand. You can easily play it with a language focus too.
You can use this game to practise literacy skills too. They could be ‘snapping’ a word to a picture, a word to a word, or even a word within a lexical set.
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