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Flashcards are an essential thing when you teach English, especially to young learners. Flashcards can sometimes have a bad reputation of being too educational, or boring. Many people think flashcards are to be used by just looking and reading the same cards over and over again. But there are so many different games and activities you can play with flashcards to make them fun and interesting for kids, especially bilingual kids or children learning a second language. You can have fun with flashcards to help promote conversation and the use of language and basically get your kids talking. Here are five top games that I occasionally play with my students: 1) The Duel This is an ESL classic that has been a staple flashcard game for many English teachers around the world for years. Divide your class into two teams and then choose one player from each team to come and stand in the middle of the class back to back. Give one flashcard to one of the students and another flashcard to the other student. Make sure that each student is holding the flashcard at chest height and facing outward. Also, make sure that each student has not seen what the other student is holding. When you are ready, slowly start counting to five. 1... 2... 3... 4.... 5... As you slowly count, each student slowly starts walking so a gap grows as you count. On five, shout 'FIRE!!' and each student quickly turns to face the other student. The fastest student to call out the other flashcard is the victor and that team wins a point. Keep bringing up a new pair until everyone has had a turn. 2) Ostrich/Sumo This is a fun flashcard game to play with young learners or beginners. This game might be suitable for smaller classes. Procedure: Divide the students into two teams. Tell the students to form a large ring in the classroom. Choose one student from each team to play first; these students should ideally be of the same size. The two players face each other in the centre of the ring. With sticky tape, stick a flashcard to the back of each player and tell the two players to place their hands behind their back. Then have the two players perform a ‘Sumo Stomp’ and you say ‘go’. The two players then have to try and see what flashcard is on their opponents back. The two players must always stay inside the ring. They should not touch each other and their hands should be kept behind their backs. Insist that the students who form the ring don’t shout or give away the answer. Impose a penalty point to the other team if this happens and let the students know this beforehand. When a player knows the answer, they put their hand up and you ask them what the word is. If the player is correct, they win a point for their team. Then two new players enter the centre of the ring and the game continues with new flashcards. Continue until everyone has had a chance to play. The team with the most points at the end of the game is the winner. Set a time limit on each round of 20 seconds with a draw and a point for each team if both can't see the card. 3) Volcano. Don't touch the lava! This is just perfect for kids aged 3-6 years old. Review your flashcards with the class and then tell the class that the floor is lava and very, very hot! Bend down and touch the floor and pretend to burn your fingers to show your kids and to raise a laugh with them. Tell your students that they need to get from one side of the room to the other, but must not touch the floor. Place your flashcards in a long and winding line across the floor. To get from one side of the room to the other, the kids must use the flashcards as stepping stones across the lava! Students can only step on a stone once they've said what word it is. Let each student go one at a time and give lots of praise when they reach the other side. 4) Monster Teacher This is a very short activity to lighten things up in the classroom and to get some giggles from your students. Stick all of the flashcards onto the whiteboard and practice what they are. Through your teaching assistant or helper, tell the class that you are thinking about a flashcard and they must guess what the flashcard is. For every guess, award a point or a sticker to the guesser. When the class guess which card you are thinking about correctly, you become a monster and chase them back to their seats! Play 2-4 times, then move on. 5) Tic-Tac-Toe/Naughts and Crosses Simple and good as a quick 5-minute flashcard review game towards the end of your lesson. Draw a big 3 x 3 Naughts & Crosses board on your whiteboard, and in each square, stick a flashcard. You should now have nine flashcards in a 3 x 3 grid on your board. Divide your students into two teams (O's and X's) and choose one team to go first. A student chooses a square they'd like to take and says the word in that square or uses it in a structure. If correct, that square is taken and the teacher writes an X or an O in the square. It is now the other team's go. Take turns until you have a winner or a draw. These activities are not designed by me and I just found them really effective and enjoyable. Most of them you can find on Mike's Home ESL YouTube channel and TEFLlemon website.