Class Activities, Sp 1 Unit 1: Greetings/goodbyes/ numbers/calendar

Teaching Time With Picture Cards

One of my favorite resources for almost any unit is a set of picture cards for vocab words. Today I was teaching time,  so I gave students this handout:

time images


You can make prettier ones here (digital or analogue clocks! five minute intervals! quarter hour intervals! thirty minute intervals! customize the clock face!), but I couldn’t easily get the combination of numbers I wanted, so I just typed the what I wanted into a chart in Word (still trying to think of a way to use the pretty ones though!) .  Download for free here.

So, step 1: input! After briefly introducing vocabulary, (Son las ___, y cuarto, y media), I started calling out times and having them point to the corresponding clock on their picture sheet. Note: the order of the clocks is deliberate! Since time is new to them (and in the past it’s taken my students a looooong time to be able to tell me what time it is!), I wanted to get lots of reps of the most important phrases – Son las ____, es la una, y cuarto, y media. I started with just the clocks on the first row, and gradually started calling out times on the subsequent rows as their confidence increased. You can also have them look at the clocks and repeat the vocab, or start it for them (Es la una…) and then let them finish (…y media)

Tip: Give directions in the target language! I say indica or toca and exaggeratedly mime pointing at my paper. If they don’t get it, I clarify with a word or two of English.

Step 2: Practice! Picture cards lend themselves quite well to matching. Matching activities are great because they feel like a game, they get students to read (without them realizing it’s a reading activity), and they give my fidgety teenagers a hands-on way to practice. Furthermore, it’s a student-centered way of giving input (so much CI is teacher-centered!), and when you match Spanish to pictures, there’s no English! Here’s what it looked like:




I made a class set of the “words” handout (download it here), and two class sets of the “numbers” handout – one to keep whole for the first half of class point-at-what-I-say activity, and one to cut apart for the matching activity.  I like to print the cut-apart cards on a different color paper – it makes them “pop” during the matching activity, and it helps to find them when they fall on the floor (Side note: one of my students couldn’t find the match for “Son las cinco.” So he called me over and told me, “Hey, Señorita, I’m missing one – there’s a five o’clock somewhere!”).

Tip: Keep your workload manageable – don’t try to cut thirty sets of cards yourself! My first period takes a couple of minutes to cut the cards apart, then clips each set together at the end of class. We throw them in a plastic bag, and a student walks around and collects the sets at the end of the activity.



Step 3: Practice some more! I asked them to hold up one of the pink cards for their partner, and have them tell what time it is. They have the white handout right there with the answers for support, so they can look at it to give their answer, or just use it to check each other.

More activities:

Lo tengo: A listening comprehension game. Divide students into groups, give each group a set of the picture cards (the clocks in this case), and have them split up the cards among them. Call out a word in the TL (or a definition or description in the TL), and each group races to be the first to find the corresponding card and yell Lo tengo!   More detailed instructions here!

Bingo? As soon as my students saw the cards they started begging me to play bingo. I haven’t yet found a program to take my vocabulary words or pictures and randomize them into 30+ unique bingo cards. Any ideas? All I can think of is having students cut apart the pictures and tape or glue them into custom bingo boards – is there a way to do that electronically? Free, preferably?

That’s all I’ve got – what else do you do with vocabulary picture cards? Quite a bit of prep goes into making the cards, so I like to get as many uses out of them as possible. Share, share share in the comments!


5 thoughts on “Teaching Time With Picture Cards”

  1. This is fabulous. It’s so simple. Yes, a bit time-consuming, but as long as it is reusable, I’m okay! I’m going to try this with other vocabulary as well. Thank you for sharing.

  2. Love the input approach! For bingo, I list a set of times at the bottom of blank bingo cards and have the students write them in any order on the bingo sheet and ta-da! Your students just made 30+ unique bingo cards with minimal work from you. You can even list a few extra times at the bottom of the bingo sheets to help create even more unique cards!

  3. For bingo cards, I have an excel template I got from a colleague at some point that generates 30-36 unique bingo cards of 25 spaces (including free space), after you fill in 30 terms for them to generate from, so some terms don’t show up on all cards – somebody with a better understanding of excel formulas than I have created it.

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