Three Card Matching

This activity allows students to independently demonstrate understanding by interpreting images, words and sentence-level text to match cards into sets of three. Generally, a set is made up of an image, a word, and a definition or description of the word. This activity works well as a way to check for prior learning before having students move on to use the cards in independent games or activities, for example 3-Card Go Fish.


  1. The teacher passes out a set of cards to each student.

  2. Students spread all of the cards out on their desk, table or the floor.

  3. Students work silently to match sets of three cards.

  4. The teacher walks around the room while students work, providing non-verbal feedback to students by separating incorrectly formed sets.

  5. The teacher ends the activity by showing the correct answers.

  6. The teacher collects the cards and stores them for use in other future activities.

Helpful Tips

  1. For cognate-heavy alphabetic languages, the content of the cards can be a word, an image, and a definition or description which includes some new words (mostly cognates). See the example in Images below.

  2. For non-alphabetic languages, the cards can be adapted to help build connections between oral/aural language and written forms. These cards would contain an image, a word written in Romanization, and a word written in the regular script of the language. See the example in Images below.

  3. If the teacher plans to use these cards for other games in the future, it is advised that they print the cards with a pattern on the back. This way, students will not be able to see through the cards when playing other games. See the example in Images below.

  4. To add a level of challenge to this activity, the teacher could choose to set a timer and challenge students to complete all of the sets before the timer goes off.


  1. Higher proficiency students/classes could be assigned to write the definitions or descriptions for the cards in advance of other classes doing this activity.


  1. One set of cards per student

  2. A flat surface for each student to work on

  3. An envelope or re-sealable bag to store each set of cards for future use

Sample Materials

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