Here are two fun card games for ESL students of level A1 (beginner/elementary). The games will help students learn and practice the names of 32 different animals. The first game involves matching pictures of animals to their names in a classic ‘memory’ game. The second game involves miming, acting and guesswork. The games work best for groups of three or four.
GAME 1 – PELMANISM CARDS
Get the students to shuffle both the word and picture cards separately, then place them all face down, spread out across the table, but keeping them in two distinct groups of word cards and picture cards.
Students then take turns to turn over one picture card and one word card. If the picture card matches the name of the animal on the word card, the student keeps both cards and gets another turn. If they do not match, the student turns both cards face down again, leaving them exactly where they were. It is then the next student’s turn. Play continues until all the cards are gone. The student with the most cards at the end of the game wins.
GAME 2 – THE MIMING GAME
Tell each group to shuffle just their word cards, placing them face down on the table. Students take turns to pick a card, being careful not to show anyone. The student then makes the actions and noises of the animal on the card. The first student in the group to guess the name of the animal gets to keep the card. At the end of the game, the student with the most cards wins.
Alternatively, you can adapt the game mechanic for an even more hilarious learning experience: make groups compete against each other in a race to get through all their cards first in the shortest time possible.
Both of these games are a great way to build students’ confidence while expanding their vocabulary.