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Sheet: Action Cards for Teaching Verbs & Gesture Game (Beginner ESL)

Sheet for Teaching Verbs to Beginner ESL/EFL Students

Level: Beginner (Children, grades 1-3)

Focus: Teaching basic English verbs

Description: These verb/action cards can be the first step in teaching verbs to young students of English. I found this material at the Japanese elementary school I teach at. I do not own the copyright and I am unsure of the source. However, they are very useful so I thought I would share.

Verbs on Page 1fly, jump, play jump rope, run, walk, climb, sit down, stand up, laugh, smile, listen to music, ride a bike, swim, eat, play baseball, play soccer

Verbs on Page 2dance, sing, play the piano, play the guitar, cry, talk on the phone, wash dishes, cook, do my homework, sleep, wake up, read, write, do karate, play kickball, play tennis

The quality of the images is not incredibly high but it should be sufficient. There is no document to download; just click on an image and it will open in a bigger window. Then print or save the image.

Useful Verb-related Activities for Beginners

These action cards can be used for dozens of ESL activities. Here are few:

1) Gesture Game. After introducing the verbs to the students, cut up the cards and put them in a box. Have one student come to the front of class and take a card. The student then should act out the verb using gestures. The students sitting down then must say what verb the student is mimicking.

2) Simon Says. This is a classic ESL game. You should know this already. (If you don't, read about it here.)

3) Timed Race. All the cards are put in a pile on the floor. The students must go and pick up a card, go to the teacher and say the target expression (e.g. I can dance). If the student does not make a mistake, the teacher takes the card. When all the cards have been picked up by the students and passed on to the teacher, the teacher stops the timer. The time is announced. Students then try again to beat their time.

Target Language

I use these verb cards for teaching the following language (generally in the following order).

  1. I play baseball.
  2. I play baseball on Tuesday. (after teaching the days of the week. Students can interview each other. "What do you do on Tuesday? I play baseball on Tuesday." Use this simple sheet for the interview.)
  3. I can play baseball. (students can interview each other, e.g. "Can you play baseball? Yes, I can.")
  4. I like playing baseball. (students can interview each other, e.g. "Do you like playing baseball? Yes, I do.")


Teach one verb sheet, play the gesture game, bingo, etc. for a few classes, and then teach the next verb page. Don't try to teach both pages on the same day.

Have fun,

– Matthew Barton / English


ESL Verb Cards for Gesture Game – Page 1

esl verb cards (actions) for beginner gesture game

ESL Verb Cards for Gesture Game – Page 2

esl verb cards (actions) for beginner gesture game

Note: does not hold the copyright to these images.

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31 Comments on this page

  1. Elle (Posted November 13, 2012 | Reply)

    Are the verb cards no longer downloadable?

    • pupuli (Posted February 27, 2016 | Reply)

      Too good

  2. MB (Posted November 13, 2012 | Reply)

    They are images (I don’t have it in .DOC format). So, just click on the above image and it will open in a bigger window. Then save it or print it. The quality is a bit low but it will suffice I believe.

  3. Natika (Posted January 30, 2013 | Reply)

    Thanks! This is awesome!

  4. Elle (Posted February 26, 2013 | Reply)

    Hi MB,

    Belated thanks for your reply. I lost this link and have only just come across it again.

  5. ianflo (Posted September 30, 2013 | Reply)


  6. Silvia (Posted October 4, 2013 | Reply)

    These are great. Thanks!

  7. Lara V (Posted October 7, 2013 | Reply)

    These are by far my favourite action pictures and I’m so glad to find them on the web as I no longer have the book. They come from The Buddy Book which is not worth buying except for these pages.

  8. Laura (Posted October 21, 2013 | Reply)

    Excellent pictures! Thanksss!

  9. JOANA (Posted January 19, 2014 | Reply)

    Thank you! :)

  10. seanghai pheang (Posted April 1, 2014 | Reply)

    I suggest to do like this, it so good to learning English

  11. Arianna (Posted May 26, 2014 | Reply)

    Very useful, thank you very much you saved me a lot of time! :)

  12. Via (Posted September 20, 2014 | Reply)

    Thank you very much that you allow me to copy these sheets. It’s really help me for teaching my students.

  13. aaryan (Posted September 29, 2014 | Reply)

    wow so good

  14. kamalu (Posted September 29, 2014 | Reply)

    Thank y you save me a lot of time.

  15. Gloria (Posted November 21, 2014 | Reply)

    Thank you so much.

  16. Melina salmon (Posted December 1, 2014 | Reply)

    It didn’t teach my child very well but I understand very well.

    • Howat Labrum (Posted November 8, 2015 | Reply)

      These verb cards can be used very well with my English tense system. If you take a look at my active voice and passive voice tensemaps, you will be able to quickly imagine how easily you can make games with your cards inserted into the spaces in my maps. Sample Power Point videos are available on YouTube under the hashtags of Howat Labrum and letlearn2008. If you would like to have free copies of the originals, please contact me at

  17. Vikaasa (Posted January 8, 2015 | Reply)

    Help me a lot.

  18. Alex (Posted February 9, 2015 | Reply)

    Great ideas thank you :)

  19. Aurora Reyes (Posted February 12, 2015 | Reply)

    Thank you so much!! This is excellent for my basic & intermediate ESL students.

  20. Linda (Posted May 12, 2015 | Reply)

    Thank you so much! I’ll be using this for my elementary esl class!

  21. alejandra (Posted May 14, 2015 | Reply)


  22. Mkoroshoni Weekend School (Posted August 20, 2015 | Reply)

    Found the cars very useful and helpful. Through this, am sure my students will love learning verbs through action pictures.
    Great work you did enh

  23. Mkoroshoni Weekend School (Posted August 20, 2015 | Reply)

    We did not find these cards anywhere before. Yours are the best one

    • Mrs. Vera (Posted September 6, 2015 | Reply)

      These are the best ones yet for my beginning ESL adult students. Thank you.

  24. Gladys (Posted September 15, 2015 | Reply)

    Great. These pictures help me a lot.

  25. stephy (Posted September 20, 2015 | Reply)

    Really usefull for the teacher

  26. benny (Posted November 24, 2015 | Reply) was helpful.thanks

  27. Rewa (Posted December 1, 2015 | Reply)

    These activity cards are very helpful. Shame the quality isn’t the highest but it does the trick. Thank you for posting this :)

  28. my name is glory (Posted January 23, 2016 | Reply)

    This is a beautiful concept,it will help my pupils understand the concept of verb and using it to construte a sentence.Thank you mum

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