Lesson Resource of the Month: Card Games for the Classroom

Card Games for the Classroom by multiple contributors

It’s mid-September, so it’s time for another Fulbridge Lesson Resource of the Month! Almost all ETAs will agree: incorporating games into lessons is one of the most effective ways to engage students and get them to use the English which they have learned in class. However, sometimes it can be difficult to come up with ideas of games to use, especially for ETAs with little access to technology in their classrooms.

That’s why Fulbridge has compiled this master post of card games – all you need is paper and printer access! (Access to a laminator is also nice, if you don’t want over-enthusiastic students to thrash your cards…) Be prepared to spend a lot of time cutting, though!



“UNO!” This classic card game, named after the number “1” in the Spanish language, can actually provide students with a fun and engaging way to practice their English.

This post features 3 different versions of UNO: the classic version, a “What’s the Date?” version, and a “Telling Time” version. These card games can be a good way to help beginner-level students practice what they have just learned, or to help higher-level students review/just have a fun day in class. 

UNO materials can be downloaded below:

  1. Classic UNO (from South Korea ETA Hillary Veitch, modified off waygook.org)
  2. “What’s the Date?” UNO (from South Korea ETA Kayla Smith, modified off waygook.org)
  3. “Telling Time” UNO (from South Korea ETA Robyn Kincaide)

Apples to Apples

Apples to Apples is a great way to get students to practice modifying nouns (or even gerunds!) with adjectives, and have a few laughs while doing so! 

This post features 3 different sets of Apples to Apples cards, each with its own unique features.

  1. Apples to Apples 1 (from South Korea ETA Elizabeth Beavers)

This set looks the most like a standard Apples to Apples board game deck. Noun and adjective cards are provided, with English synonyms as well as Korean translations. Elizabeth also provided a PowerPoint file to explain to students how to play the game.

  1. Apples to Apples 2 (from South Korea ETA Robyn Kincaide)

This set relies more on pictures than words in order to communicate the meaning of the cards’ subjects to students. Noun, adjective, and gerund cards are provided. Robyn also included an instruction sheet with Korean translations, found on waygook.org.

  1. Apples to Apples 3 (from South Korea ETAs Leanndra Padgett and Sarah Caudill)

Modified off waygook.org, this set requires students to use their noun cards in order to fill in the blank of sentences and phrases, rather than the standard noun-adjective format of the game.

Memory Game

Among the simplest of games to explain, a classic Memory Game can be a good way to ingrain the meanings vocabulary words and phrases in students’ brains. Below you will find examples of how ETAs have used versions of the Memory Game at both the primary and the secondary school level. 

  1. Alphabet Memory Game (from South Korea ETA Rebecca Brower)
  2. Idiom Memory Game (from South Korea ETA Robyn Kincaide, modified off waygook.org)


If you’ve ever played a game of Slap Jack with a standard deck of cards, you understand the principles behind the SLAP! game. It’s a great way to energize your classroom as they race to collect the most cards. (Their hands might sting a bit, though!) Modified from a post on waygook.org, South Korea ETA Robyn Kincaide used this game to review the 25 most common English verbs. You can find her materials here.


A popular party game, Taboo can be used to get students to practice giving explanations by forcing them to think outside of the box as they try to get their teammates to guess the word on the card. An explanation of the game rules provided as part of a collaborative project from 2011-2012 Malaysia ETAs can be found here, along with two example decks of cards found on notboringenglish.com and waygook.org.

Majority Rules Game

This simple game from South Korea ETA Rebecca Brower is a great, tactile way for beginner-level elementary students to practice new vocabulary words, as well as other skills such as counting and making “There is/There are” statements. You can find her explanation of her Majority Rules game here.

Games Using Standard Card Decks

Don’t want to spend hours cutting out cards? Never fear! If you have access to decks of standard playing cards, there are multiple games you can play with your students in order to encourage English speaking and conversation. Below are some suggestions of games using playing cards:

  1. Vocabulary Deck

Contributed to our collection by Taiwan ETAs and originally found on teach-this.com, Vocabulary Deck can be a great way to encourage lower-level students to reflect on the vocabulary words they have learned, and to get higher-level students to really apply those words by making sentences from them. Instructions can be found here.

  1. Talking Cards

From South Korea ETA Hillary Veitch, this Talking Cards game is fantastic for encouraging students to practice answering questions in complete sentences in a low-pressure context. A lesson plan and presentation file can be found here.

  1. King’s Cup Speaking Game

Be wary when attempting to incorporate this game into your classes—it’s modified from a popular drinking game, and may be recognizable as such. However, it is an engaging and exciting way to get students to create their own sentences. Originally posted on waygook.org, you can find materials explaining the rules of the King’s Cup Speaking Game here.

Enjoy your game days! And, as always, keep visiting our Lesson Catalog blog every week for more great lessons from ETAs across the globe!



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