Halloween Go Fish

This game uses the same cards as in the previous game, Halloween Concentration, although you might want to include more cards. To expand the card deck, include faces for each picture – happy pumpkins versus angry pumpkins, happy owls versus angry owls, etc. This way you have “suits” (happy, angry, sad, and crazy would be my choices). Make sure you have enough sets of cards for each group to play.

Before playing, teach the students the phrases “Do you have a ________?” “No, I don’t. Go fish.” and “Yes, I do. Here you are.” Students play in groups of three to six.

There are several different variations of “Go Fish” – if you don’t remember the rules, here’s a summary of the most common ways to play. For added educational value, have the students tell you what sets of cards they earned, and trade them in for candy, stickers, or other prizes. For example, Kevin wins the game. To win his prize, he must tell you “I have two happy owls, two sad pumpkins, two angry spiders, and two crazy pumpkins.”


Halloween Concentration

Before class, make several sets of concentration cards featuring typical Halloween images: pumpkins, ghosts, black cats, witches, owls, bats, spiders, and zombies. I print them in black ink on orange card stock. If you want to use them for other games, like Go Fish, you might want to make “suits” by giving each image a happy, sad, angry, or crazy face.

At the beginning of class, teach the students the new vocabulary words for Halloween. Also teach them phrases like “It’s a pumpkin” and “This is a spider.” Then, divide the class into groups, each of which gets one set of cards.

For concentration, put one whole set of cards face-down on the desk in front of the students. Students take turns flipping over two cards. If the cards match, they keep them. If not, they return the cards to their original positions. The student with the most cards at the end wins.


Find That Sound

This is a fun game for beginners just learning the alphabet and the sound each letter makes. You’ll need a flash card for each letter, with a magnet attached to the blank side of each card. Place the letter cards in random order on the white board, and divide the class into two teams.

To play the game, one student from each team stands in front of the white board. The teacher makes the sound of a letter (don’t say the name of the letter, just make the sound it makes – sss, not ess) and the students race to find the letter that makes that sound. The student who finds it first takes the flash card off the white board and hands it to the teacher.

This game is very fast-paced, and gives you an idea of which phonics concepts the students are struggling with.



A pair of students stands back to back. The teacher holds a set of flash cards between them. The teacher counts to three as the students take three steps apart, and then when the teacher shouts “go!” the students turn around to face each other. The students look at the flash card that the teacher is holding up, and have to name the word and then shout “bang, bang!” at the other student while making an imaginary gun with their fingers. The faster student is the winner.

Alternatives to flash cards:

  • The teacher does a gesture and the students name the corresponding word.
  • The teacher says a word and the students do the corresponding gesture.
  • Before saying go, the teacher says a word and on go, the students have to spell it out.
  • The teacher says a word, shows a flash card, or writes a word on the board, and the students have to use it in a sentence.

Note: Yes, this is against all the rules in American schools where you’re not allowed to even pretend to have heard of making a gun with your fingers. Can anyone suggest an alternative to the gun thing? Make a silly face at the other student, maybe?


Monster Teacher

The teacher has a set of flash cards, of words that the students have already learned. The teacher holds up one card from the set, and students race to name it. The first student to name the card gets to hold on to it. The teacher continues to distribute cards in this way until every student has a flash card.

Once all cards are in kids’ hands, the teacher begins to ask “Who has the apple?” The student with the apple flash card has to stand up and return the card to the teacher. However, the teacher is now a monster who will try to grab the student’s wrist as the student returns the card. The student must put the card in the teacher’s hand (or in a pile on the teacher’s desk or other designated spot) without getting caught by the monster teacher! (Don’t let the students throw the cards – they must place them before running away.)