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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40 comments on “Sheet: Action Cards for Teaching Verbs & Gesture Game (Beginner ESL)

  1. Elle (Posted on 11-13-2012 at 11:03) Reply

    Are the verb cards no longer downloadable?

    1. pupuli (Posted on 2-27-2016 at 01:37) Reply

      Too good

  2. MB (Posted on 11-13-2012 at 12:53) 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 on 1-30-2013 at 08:50) Reply

    Thanks! This is awesome!

  4. Elle (Posted on 2-26-2013 at 14:23) Reply

    Hi MB,

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

  5. ianflo (Posted on 9-30-2013 at 10:17) Reply


  6. Silvia (Posted on 10-4-2013 at 22:39) Reply

    These are great. Thanks!

  7. Lara V (Posted on 10-7-2013 at 13:40) 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 on 10-21-2013 at 10:39) Reply

    Excellent pictures! Thanksss!

  9. JOANA (Posted on 1-19-2014 at 11:10) Reply

    Thank you! :)

  10. seanghai pheang (Posted on 4-1-2014 at 14:57) Reply

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

  11. Arianna (Posted on 5-26-2014 at 14:43) Reply

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

  12. Via (Posted on 9-20-2014 at 19:36) 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 on 9-29-2014 at 08:42) Reply

    wow so good

  14. kamalu (Posted on 9-29-2014 at 08:47) Reply

    Thank y you save me a lot of time.

  15. Gloria (Posted on 11-21-2014 at 13:25) Reply

    Thank you so much.

  16. Melina salmon (Posted on 12-1-2014 at 17:36) Reply

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

    1. Howat Labrum (Posted on 11-8-2015 at 16:06) 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 on 1-8-2015 at 09:21) Reply

    Help me a lot.

  18. Alex (Posted on 2-9-2015 at 08:37) Reply

    Great ideas thank you :)

  19. Aurora Reyes (Posted on 2-12-2015 at 14:15) Reply

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

  20. Linda (Posted on 5-12-2015 at 02:19) Reply

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

  21. alejandra (Posted on 5-14-2015 at 16:04) Reply


  22. Mkoroshoni Weekend School (Posted on 8-20-2015 at 00:48) 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 on 8-20-2015 at 00:50) Reply

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

    1. Mrs. Vera (Posted on 9-6-2015 at 15:12) Reply

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

  24. Gladys (Posted on 9-15-2015 at 09:27) Reply

    Great. These pictures help me a lot.

  25. stephy (Posted on 9-20-2015 at 11:11) Reply

    Really usefull for the teacher

  26. benny (Posted on 11-24-2015 at 06:29) Reply was helpful.thanks

  27. Rewa (Posted on 12-1-2015 at 19:29) 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 on 1-23-2016 at 22:19) 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

  29. mizouri amel (Posted on 10-16-2016 at 04:03) Reply

    i just printed them out sure they’re beneficial.thanks a lot

  30. Joanna (Posted on 12-4-2016 at 16:41) Reply

    By far the best verb cards. True, quality is a bit low but children get the meaning :-)

  31. Kristen (Posted on 12-21-2016 at 21:08) Reply

    I assume that these images are copyright protected, so who is the copyright holder?

    1. mb (Posted on 12-21-2016 at 22:44) Reply

      Excellent question. I came across them first on a photocopied sheet of paper.

  32. Asha (Posted on 4-20-2017 at 09:30) Reply

    I downloaded sheets of cards I hope they will help me. Thanks.

  33. Hassan Beladim (Posted on 10-20-2017 at 09:41) Reply

    Thank you so much for the good work.

  34. Azzeddine (Posted on 3-13-2018 at 21:21) Reply

    Nice work! Thank you for sharing :)

  35. Beth Acheson (Posted on 5-1-2018 at 09:42) Reply

    Thank you; these are great. Just one word of caution: some of the activities (play soccer, play kick ball and play jump rope) are not terms in use in the UK. I think they are Americanisms. In the UK we say: ‘do skipping’ for play jump rope, ‘play football’ for ‘play soccer’, and as far as I know kick ball does not exist.
    Nevertheless a nice set of cards, thanks.

  36. Gordon (Posted on 4-3-2019 at 04:57) Reply

    Thanks for sharing this lesson and material; very useful. Gordon

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