Flipbooks are a fantastic dynamic craft to make with both preschool and primary learners. They provide lots of opportunities for practising English while making them and are lots of fun to use in follow-up activities. The kids can create numerous different combinations so they have the chance to express their creativity.
In this post, I’ll share some tips for how you can teach English with these simple flipbook crafts, and share some ideas of different flipbooks you can make.
Jump straight to the section that interests you from the quick links below:
- What’s a flipbook and how do you make it?!
- What different types of flipbook can you make?
- How to teach English while making a flipbook
- Extension activities for after the kids make the flipbook
- Tips for using flipbooks with very young learners
What’s a flipbook and how do you make it?!
A flipbook is quite simply a booklet where the pages are cut into separate sections. This means that you can turn the sections independently of each other. With each turn, you reveal a new image combination.
You can watch a demonstration of how I make flipbooks for The Smartest Giant in Town story. Teaching tips and activity ideas are in the end segment.
What types of flipbook can you make?
There are three main types of flipbook that I’ve made with my learners. Each of them can be annotated and used in a variety of activities.
Flipbooks that create cohesive images
The Clothes flipbook and The Smartest Giant in Town flipbook are examples of these. By turning the page halves, you form different images.
Flipbooks that create different combinations
There are endless possibilities with these! Below you can see examples of one that practises “Do you like…” with fun food and object combinations, and another that combines animals with different actions.
The “Do you like…” one complements Ketchup on your Cornflakes. You could create alternative versions with other questions, e.g., “Have you ever..”; “Are you going to…”; “Can you…” etc.
The animal/action one complements Never Tickle a Tiger, and is designed to practise the story vocabulary through a song I adapted.
Flipbooks to express preferences
These preference flipbooks are great for letting your students make decisions and express their feelings. I made these ones when working on likes and dislikes, but you could equally create versions to express opinions.
How to teach English while making a flipbook
Collecting the page segments
Like a lot of the crafts I make and use, I usually prefer to have the children do something in order to collect the bits they need:
- Receptive skills work – Sometimes I feel they need more practise with hearing the language, so I either place the pages / segments around the room or in their groups around different tables. Depending on the language I want them to practise, I’ll get them to ask me something and then I’ll tell them what to collect. For example, with the clothes flipbook, they might ask, “What are they wearing?”, and I’ll answer, “They’re wearing a short skirt”. The children then race to find a page with a short skirt and return to their tables. Sometimes I make this competitive by awarding points to the first group finished. You could also conduct colour dictations in the same way.
- Productive skills work – If I feel they understand the vocabulary / phrases but need more practice using it, I’ll get them to tell me a sentence before they can have that segment. For example, with the food preferences flipbooks, they might say, “I hate peas”, to collect the ‘hate’ segment and the ‘peas’ picture. Once students are used to this type of procedure, it’s easy to hand over the control to them. Each student or pair of students is in charge of one of the pages. This way, the students are asking and checking each other and you are free to monitor.
There are plenty of opportunities for writing and spelling work. Some of the variations I include in my templates include:
- Gapped words – There are arrows to key words with the correct number of spaces for the letters in the word. I usually always include the 1st letter and I have the words written on the back page or on word flashcards, so that they have support if they need it.
- Labelling spaces – These are simple lines (without the number of letters) to indicate the vocabulary item they should write.
- Tracing words / phrases – Sometimes I just want them to get familiar with the shape of the words and letters and work on fine motor skills. The words / phrases are provided and the kids have to trace over them with a coloured pen or pencil.
- Freestyle – These templates don’t include any text. The idea is that the children can write any sentence they want that is connected to the image (with guidance if you are focusing on specific language). You might ask them to write a sentence on each segment or set a minimum amount of sentences. It can also be an opportunity for them to ask you for language that you might not have been targetting but that they want to learn.
Extension activities for after the kids make the flipbook
To some degree, the type of extension activities you choose will be dependent on the type of flipbook you make. Here are a few ideas for the types of flipbook I have made:
Cohesive image flipbooks
- Guessing games – One student flips their segments to a certain combination. They keep it secret from their partner. Their partner asks questions using their own flipbook to work out what the image is. For example, with The Smartest Giant in Town Flipbook, the student might ask questions such as, “Is it a man?”; “Is he happy?”; “Is he wearing a tie?”
- True or false – One student makes three sentences about their image, and their partner has to identify the false sentence. This could also be a written combination with the freestyle pages. Depending on the segments flippped, the written sentence may now be false!
- Listen and show – The teacher or a student describes a picture combination. The children race to turn their pages to the correct combination and hold it up. You could make this a team combination if you like.
Different picture combinations flipbooks
- Questions and surveys – With flipbooks that create questions, such as with our Ketchup on your Cornflakes flipbook, students can turn segments and ask each other questions, e.g., “Do you like cheese on your pancakes?”; “Do you like ketchup in your bed?!” They can ask different people in the class and report back on their findings. You could also combine this with a card game. For example, use some mini-cards of the images in the book and get the students to play Rock, Paper, Scissors (Instructions in 10 small group card games for ESL/EFL young learners) The winner of the card finds a page combination with that image and asks their partner the question.
- Story or song creation – As mentioned above, I adapted a song to include different language from the Never Tickle a Tiger story. The children used their flipbooks to create new verses from the song, e.g., “Have you ever seen a bear bounce this way and that?”; “Have you ever seen a walrus swim this way and that?”; “Have you ever seen an elephant run this way and that?” You could use the same idea with story events, where the children invent different stories depending on the combinations they create with their flipbooks.
- Card game match race – Each student has card sets of the images for each flipbook section. The card sets are placed face down in front of each pair of students. Each student chooses a combination in their flipbooks and shows their partner. They then take turns turning over a card (naming the item or saying a sentence for each one). The winner is the first student to find the right combination for their flipbook page.
Preferences / opinions flipbooks
- Spot the differences – Students compare their flipbooks and find similarities and differences. You can have them do this sitting back to back, or concealing their flipbook in some way, so that they have to make sentences without their partner seeing. If their partner has the same combination, they can say, “Me too!” / “Me, neither” and show them their flipbook.
- Swap and see – Get your students to exchange flipbooks with someone else, then arrange the students into new pairs. Students take turns asking each other about someone else in the class, e.g., “Does Marta like playing tennis?”; “No, she doesn’t. She hates playing tennis”. Make it more game-like, by playing in combination with the Rock, Paper, Scissors game.
- Board game question time – Students play a simple Start to Finish board game, but each time they land on an odd number, they need to ask someone a question with one of the prompts in their flipbook. You can add in more complexity by making a rule that they can only stay on that square if the answer is negative on an odd square (1,3,5 etc.) or affirmative on an even square (2, 4, 6 etc.) Of course, the student will need proof that they need to move back – that’s where the flipbooks come in! Another benefit of playing the game this way is that the students will really have to think about the preferences or opinions of their classmates.
Tips for using flipbooks with very young learners
With groups of preschool students, I prefer to construct the actual flipbook myself but I have them stick the pictures in themselves. It would be a bit tricky for them to put the pages together into the cover and staple them. With very small groups of 4 or less I can have them do it with support. More than 4 and the management of the activity tends to get a bit much. Saying that, try to let them do as much as possible themselves. This might mean that you staple the pages together for them and fold the pages before class but you let them cut the pages into segments and colour, or stick the images in themselves.