Join the pack

24th September 2004 at 01:00
Cathy Walsh shows how using cards can be an ace move

We all use cards in numeracy, ensuring all children participate and share their answers. But have you tried using cards in other subjects?


When getting across tricky vocabulary use cards in a plenary. In a lesson on material properties, I've given children two cards, one with "insulator" written on and one with "conductor". I hold up a material, children show quick as a flash the property of that material. I confirm the correct property, reinforcing how to pronounce the vocabulary. You could even end with a spelling challenge in which a volunteer comes to the front to try to spell the key word, every other child in the room using their cards to test whether the spelling is correct while at same time learning it themselves.


Use cards to reinforce punctuation: give children a set of cards with a full stop, question mark and exclamation mark. Say a sentence, ask children to show the punctuation needed at the end, then let children try this with each other. Make this more complex by adding a comma, some speech marks and so on. As you slowly read a passage children attempt to display punctuation needed.

Use cards with meaningful vocabulary from a lesson or topic, for instance names of Egyptian gods, to divide children into differing tasks for individual work. So all those with Isis might do task abc, while those with Osiris will work on xyz. This can help divide children into differentiated groups more seamlessly than isolating children in lower ability sets.

Use coloured cards as keys to tasks. For example in numeracy, rather than working through a sheet of problems, children could collect one problem at a time from a box that matches their card colour (this allows for independence and movement round the room). Alternatively, when problem solving, set a rule that children can only work with a child that has a contrasting colour or the same colour (good at mixing gender or ability).

In geography, or during spare moments in the day, hand out sets of cards with physical features or categories written on them such as river, mountain, town, country. Play a quick quiz: say a name such as Stour or Clent and children use a card to show what they think it could be.

Give each child a set of traffic light colours for use in all lessons and ask them to show green when they're confident and concentrating, yellow when needing reassurance and when they need help show red.

= Cathy Walsh is deputy headteacher at Lutley Primary School, Dudley

Log-in as an existing print or digital subscriber

Forgotten your subscriber ID?


To access this content and the full TES archive, subscribe now.

View subscriber offers


Get TES online and delivered to your door – for less than the price of a coffee

Save 33% off the cover price with this great subscription offer. Every copy delivered to your door by first-class post, plus full access to TES online and the TES app for just £1.90 per week.
Subscribers also enjoy a range of fantastic offers and benefits worth over £270:

  • Discounts off TES Institute courses
  • Access over 200,000 articles in the TES online archive
  • Free Tastecard membership worth £79.99
  • Discounts with Zipcar,, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today