Flashcards Ideas for Health Themes

Today’s Flashcard Friday post is all about getting healthy again! I was recently inspired by Jennifer Hudson who suggested thinking back to your past to recall all of the games and sports you loved playing as a child. The weight loss diva admitted that she prefers playing basketball and skipping rope with her girlfriends than going to the gym. For me, it’s about dancing and ping pong (even if it’s sometimes in my living room via the Wii).

Are you or your students on a health kick this month? January is the perfect time to review and play with English vocabulary related to sports, exercise, and the body. If you’re planning a health-themed unit, ESL-Library has a few ready-made flashcard sections that you can print and use in the classroom. These include:

Sports Equipment
Sports Actions
Exercise Clothing
The Body

Why Flashcards?


Images are a great way to get your students moving around as they practise English. You can clear the desks or tables to the sides of the class, or find a large space outside the classroom. If you want your students to keep thinking in English, it is also important to keep the English blood flowing. In some of the following games and activities, students stand up, sit down, reach, and pretend to do sports. Pictures can also help jog a student’s memory! Use flashcards to help your students think of related words, stories, and anecdotes that they may want to share with classmates. You can decide whether or not to allow students to use translation dictionaries and devices as you play with flashcards.

Here are some suggested activities for using health themed flashcards:

Design a Dream Gym
Use a large white or black board or a large piece of craft paper. Tell students they are going to work together to design a dream gym! Have students take turns choosing images from the flashcard sets and taping them onto the board or paper. What will they put in the gym? Will it have a ping-pong table, gymnastic equipment, and a pool? What will be outside the gym? Will there be a football field and a baseball diamond? Students can draw a word if they can’t find it in the set. You could also do this in small groups and have students compare gyms. Which gym is the best? What would a membership fee cost?

Setting Health Goals
Spread out all of the sports and exercise flashcards on the ground or a large table (you may want to make more than one copy of some images). Tell students to imagine they are going on a health kick for 2012. Students must choose 5 images each to represent their exercise plan. Put students in pairs to describe their health plan to each other. They can also try to write it out in words. Students can look up any words they don’t know. Allow them to borrow or trade cards if necessary!

Follow the Coach
Use the Sports Actions cards to play charades. Clear the desks or tables to the edges of the classroom, or use an open area (go outside if you can). Have students take turns coming to the front or center of the space to choose cards and model the action (be the “coach”). The other students have to copy the movement of the coach with the card AND try to guess the action word. Whoever guesses first gets to be the next “coach”.

I’d Rather
Gather the Sports Actions flashcards and divide them randomly into two piles. Have students come up to the front of the class two at a time. Each student flips over a card. The students at the front create a question together based on the two cards they flipped. They then ask for a show of hands to see what the class would rather do. The students at the front can each ask one classmate why they have that preference. You can invite students to use actions while describing their preferences.

  • What would you rather do, sit ups or pushups?
  • What would you rather do, catch or pitch?
  • What would you rather do, dribble or dive?
  • Why would you rather dribble than dive?

Related Words
Use all of the Sports and Exercise Flashcards. Hold up one card. Have students stand up and shout out any related vocabulary, including nouns, verbs, adjectives. They must sit down after their word is added to the wall (or if it is rejected). Write the words down as they are shouted out. (You may want to invite a few students to act as scribes.) You may also need a referee to decide whether or not a word is “related”.

Shout the Verb
Play the same game as above with the Sports Equipment set. Instead of shouting out a related word, students must respond to the question: What can you do with a ….?

  • football
  • soccer ball
  • hockey stick

The Body
Print out the body cards. Hold the cards up one at a time and ask students how they can exercise these parts. You could also ask students to do the action when they respond.
For example:
Teacher: Holds up the brain card.
Student A: You can exercise your brain by reading. (Opens a book and pretends to read)

Teacher: (Holds up the leg card.)
Student: You can exercise your legs by running. (Stands up and runs on the spot.)

Create your own Health Themed Flashcard Set and Materials

Heart Month LessonUse the Search button on ESL-Library to look for words that you think belong in a Sports and Health set. Then, add the flashcards to one of your My Library folders. Make one for Health Flashcards. You can also make a My Lesson Plans folder for Health and add our Health Matters lessons, including our featured lesson on Eye Health. Next month we’ll be adding a new lesson for Heart Month. Did you know that subscribers can make their own quizzes and materials using our flashcards? All you need to do is drag the images you want onto a document that you are writing. Please use your materials for personal classroom use only. Check out this post for a demonstration.

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