Memory Pictures

Out to dry.

Memory Pictures is a simple game which involves the students listening carefully. The level can be changed to match the level of the class and also the subject can match their ages and interests.


Select some interesting cartoons or pictures from magazines, etc, and make them into flashcards. The pictures should be suited to the class, fairly simple in content and slightly unusual (so students cannot predict too easily what is there).

The picture on this page is ideal; it’s simple but with a number of different elements – ideal for practicing colors!

Running the Activity

Get all the students away from their desks in one corner of the room. Choose one of the flashcards and simply describe it to your class. Depending on the level of the class you can be as simple or as detailed as you wish but you mustn’t let them see the picture.

The point here is that when you describe the picture you do it in normal, everyday English and describe each element of the picture only once. This means that your students have to listen very carefully.

In the background is the sky. There’s a washing line with some pegs on it. There are nine pegs which are red or blue or yellow or green. One of the blue pegs has a yellow stuffed cat hanging from it.

The students can then ask you anything they like about the picture to clarify it. Then they go back to their desks and draw what you have just described. Stress that you’re not after artistic skill here, you’re after detail!

Give them a few minutes for this and then compare their pictures to the original with a prize for the best.

Variations on a Theme

  • Once the class is familiar with the game you can add a simple variation to involve more work. Instead of telling the whole class about the picture, divide them into two teams and then choose one member of each team and describe the picture to them. They have to go back to the rest of their team and tell them what they’ve just heard.
  • If there are good students in the class instead of you explaining the picture, have a student do it.

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