4 March 2011

5 ESL/EFL Activities Using Playing Cards FREE DOWNLOAD

I thought it's be nice to do some grouping by item, though you can always check the tags is you have a certain item you want to use! Here are five activities you can do with a standard deck of playing cards.

5. Add the Numbers
You need: One deck per pair/small group
How to: This is a good fun way to get students practicing numbers (often they can recite but not think of the number independently). If you have enough decks for pairs then each student takes half the deck. At the same time they each turn over the top card, the first student to shout the total in English gets to keep the cards, the student with the most cards is the winner. If you have small groups then divide the deck into two piles in the centre and students can take turns turning over the cards.

4. Higher/Lower
You need: one deck of cards per pair/small group
How to: This is good for introducing comparatives (for more ideas see the post on comparatives here

The first player lays out six cards face down. They turn over the first card. They must then decide if the next card is “higher” or “lower” than the first card. You can have lower-level students just say “higher” or “It’s higher” and ask more able students to say “I think it’s higher than a three.”
They can then turn over the card and see if they were right. If they were wrong then all the cards go back in the deck. If they were right then they can go on to the next card. If they can get to the end then they get to hold on to those cards.
I also give them to option to say “Stop!”. If they say stop, then they can take the face-up cards, while the face-down cards go back into the deck. Once the first player has finished by either making a mistake, getting to the end or saying stop, the next player can play. The player with the most cards is the winner.

You could also change the English to "more/less" "up/down", whatever fits in with your students.

3. Doubt
You need: One deck per group
How to: This game is also known as bulls**t in some places! It can be used to practice numbers or months, or any kind of list. the deck is spilt between all the players. The player with the Ace of Spades goes first. They  lay down the ace and any other aces face down and say "One one" or "Two ones" or if you are using months "One January" etc. The next player must lay twos (February) and so on. The trick is that you can lie. If another player suspects that someone has lied they can say "You are a liar!" then check the cards that have been played. If the student was lying then that student must take all the cards in the middle. If the student was not lying then the accuser must take all the cards in the middle. The first player to get rid of their cards (by fair means or foul!) is the winner.
NB If you are using months make the King card "Happy Birthday!"

2. Q&A
You need: One deck per group
How to: This is good for practice simple questions that can have a number of answers. I'll use weather as an example. Put your question up on the board "How's the weather?" then assign four possible answers to the four suits. Hearts= "It's sunny." Spades = "It's rainy." Diamonds= "It's cloudy." Clubs ="It's stormy."

One player takes the whole deck, they ask the question to the player on their right. The other player answers the question and then draws a card. If the card matches the answer then the answering student gets to keep the card, if the cards don't match then the questioner keeps the card.

 For example, the answering student says "It's sunny!" and then draws a card, the card is the four of hearts. Hearts represents sunny so the answering student can keep the card. The answering student then asks the question to the next player who asnwers "It's stormy!" and draws the seven of spades. Spades represents rainy so the questioning student keeps that card. The answering student asks the next player and so on. Once the deck is finished or the time is up, the player with the most cards is the winner.

1. 52 Questions
You need: one deck per group, a question paper. (Download my version here)
How to: Good for general question practice or review. As you need 52 questions, it might be a little difficult to prepare for lower level/beginning classes. Prepare a question paper with 52 different questions, each assigned to a card. The players then take turns drawing cards and answering the questions. This might also be good for an ice-breaker in adult classes.

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