Using cue cards in the primary classroom

Using cue cards in the primary classroom

The primary goal of teaching English in the primary classroom is to teach communication. It is a particularly challenging and energy-consuming process in the pre-school and primary classrooms when students cannot read yet and the teacher should teach students orally during the first terms. In order to simplify the process for both teachers and students, facilitate the process of teaching and learning, it is a great idea to use cue cards. In this article, we are going to discuss what cue cards are and how to use them in the primary classroom.

Cue cards are a kind of visual support for students. In most cases, they are used during pair and group work, especially during different role-plays. Cue cards can be used in various ways, for:

Revision of the material

  • Quizzes. The teacher prepares cue cards with questions; students are divided into small groups or pairs. One student takes the card (there are a question and an answer) and asks other students (or another student in a pair). If the student answers correctly, he/she gets a point. Then the next student takes out the next cue card. The student who gets the most points wins.
  • Game ‘The fastest’. The teacher prepares cue cards with questions/definitions or pictures; students are divided into small groups or pairs. The pupils take the cards and place them face down in the centre of the table. They look at the card and say the word in English. Then the next student takes out the next card. Any player who doesn’t say the right word, makes a mistake or thinks more than three seconds is given a point. The winner is the pupil with fewest points.

Developing listening and reading skills

  • In order to learn how to read, students match cue cards with words to the ones with pictures. More proficient students arrange the sentences written on the cue cards in the right order.
  • Cue cards with pictures can show the order of the event in a particular story. You can show the picture cards to students and they should predict the order of events in the story or try to predict the plot.  Students read a story (if they can’t read yet – listen to a story) and arrange picture cards in the right order. Then they can use cue cards to retell the story.

Developing speaking and writing skills

Cue cards are great support for speaking and for writing. Students can develop productive skills in different ways:

  • Storytelling. Similarly to what was told in the previous paragraph, students can tell a story looking at pictures on cards. Moreover, young learners can be divided into small groups or pairs create their own story and draw cue cards for it. Then they exchange the cue cards with another team and try to tell the story (which was created by the other team) by cue cards. It can be done orally or in the written form.
  • Role-plays. Students receive cards with different roles in order to practice English in real-life situations: in a shop, at the airport, at school, in the museum etc. A cue card is a nice support to guide the student, to make it clear for them how they should act or behave.
  • Discussions. Students can take out a cue card with a question or a situation, work in a small group and discuss it.
  • Games. Students can play such games that include assigning roles; for example, ‘Guess who?’, where students need to guess the character (which is written on their cue card and which is visible only to other students) by asking questions, the answer to which is yes or no. 

How to make cue cards in no time? 

You can ask your students to bring old magazines to the class and cut out pictures on the topic being studied: if the topic is ‘My home’, they can cut out some houses of different types, furniture, interior, different city places, etc. Prepare some glue and white cards to stick students’ pictures on the white cards.  

There are websites with cue cards and flashcards: ESL flashcards, Learn English Kids, or you can create them on Quizlet or Flashcard Online, and then just print and use.

I do hope that my article is of good use for you. Don’t forget to have fun!




Наталия Мушкарева

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