Flashcards for Describing People and Things

Welcome to our first Flashcard Friday post where we’ll give you ideas and invite suggestions for using flashcards in the classroom. As all teachers know, there is more to using flashcards than flashing pictures before your students’ eyes.

Flashcards for Describing People and Things

Describing People Flashcards Are your beginner students learning how to describe people and things? Are they learning adjective pairs like messy/neat, tall/short, handsome/ugly? ESL-Library has a collection of describing flashcards to give you a starting point for your low level learners. Here are some activities you can do with our collection. Print the cards out with and without the words on the bottom.

(Watch Flashcard Library demo)

Before trying these activities, hand out a card or two (without text) to each person. Do they know the word or word pair? Have each student guess which word describes the picture. If they don’t know the word in English, they can pass it on. Some guesses may be appropriate even if the word is not the one that goes with the card. If students give synonyms, write them down on the board and give the student a point. Review the proper pronunciation for each adjective. Make sure your students know the correct placement of adjectives in a sentence.

Make the words Memorable

If you’re introducing new words, have students make these words memorable by sharing stories with other students. Give each student a card and set them loose around the classroom. “This word reminds me of …tell a story or name a person or thing from one’s own life.” After a few minutes, ask the class which words are most memorable and why. Which words are hard to remember?


Hand out flashcards and have students find another word that has the same sound at the beginning. (Similar Sisters/Fast Feet/Curly Carol)

Correct the Flashcards

The ESL-Library system allows you to change the default type that appears under the flashcards. (see demo) You can make a set with all of the wrong words. Then have your students cut the words off (or cross the words out) and write the correct word.

Nonsense sentences

Have everyone in the class write down one word on a piece of paper. Then pass the flashcards out so that everyone has a flashcard and a word. Finally, go around the class and have students write or say a sentence using the flashcard and the word. Nothing is too silly.

Chain stories

Hand out the flashcards and have students each take a turn saying a sentence from a story. Remind them that a good story has a beginning, a middle, an end, and a lot of conflict. Things should keep getting worse for the character(s). Keep going until everyone has had a turn or two. Warn the last few students that they need to think of a way to wrap up the story. Switch flashcards and make another story.


Cut the flashcards that have opposites in half and pass them out. Have students walk around trying to find their opposite. Is there a word that means something in the middle? If yes, have students draw a flashcard that could be added to the collection. Draw a flashcard for a word in the middle.

Draw your own Flashcards

Assign each person a word or word pair (shiny/dull) to draw. As they are drawing, lay the ESL-Library flashcards out somewhere. After they are done drawing they have to find their matching card. Have students describe the difference. For example: “For the words tall and short I drew buildings, but the flashcards are of tall and short people.”

Draw Flashcards for one more adjective

The ESL-Library collection needs more flashcards! Make a large list on the board of words that need to be added. Have each student draw one flashcard (single or word pair) For example: tanned, slim, hungry, ill, depressed, pretty, funny, young/ old, busy/bored.

Drawing Challenge

Work together to brainstorm what kind of describing words can NOT be shown easily with a simple image. For example: “shy”. Allow students to challenge each word by putting up their hand and saying, “I think I could draw that”. Give them a chance to draw the adjective on the board.

Hot Seat

Set up two seats facing away from the board. Divide the class into two teams. Put one person from each team in the hot seat. Write one of the describing words on the board. Students from both teams have to get the person in the hot seat to say the word. They cannot use the word or any other form of it or they lose a point. The person who guesses first gets to stand up and another person from his team goes in the hot seat for the next word. The person who didn’t guess has to stay in the hot seat until he wins a round. When you’ve learned more adjectives you can adapt the game by putting the names of famous people or things on the board. Students can describe the word using adjectives and the students in the hot seat have to guess the name.


Choose 10-20 words (depending on the level of your learners). Bring in magazines and have students make collages using the same words. After they are done have students swap collages and point out the words they see. Can they think of a synonym for some of the words? (For example: good/angelic)

About ESL-Library Flashcards

The ESL-Library flashcards can be printed with or without words. You can also print them in different sizes and in colour or black and white. If you have young learners, print them in black and white and have them colour the flashcards. Watch a demo of the ESL-Library’s Flashcard Library. If you haven’t seen our flashcards, be sure to check them out! Our flashcards are drawn by professional artists who have worked with our team for many years. The flashcards are available in English, French, and Spanish. If there is a flashcard set you need that is not in our library, please contact us.

Related in the ESL-Library
Describing clothes (Flashcards)
Comparative and Superlative Adjectives Worksheet
Detective Series: The Case of the Missing Ring, in which the suspects describe each other to Detective Bossley (higher level learners).

Please share your own ideas, lessons, and activities for describing people and things.


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