Recycling Vocabulary : The Handkerchief Game

This is a version of a traditional Italian children’s game which is a useful way of recycling vocabulary with younger learners. You can use it to practise numbers, the alphabet, any lexical field (colours, animals, toys, months, food etc ) you like or even some structures (eg present continuous). It needs space, so may be more suitable for the gym or playground rather than the classroom.

Divide the children into two equal teams. Each child has a flashcard showing a number, animal, action or whatever it is you want to practise. The children stand in two parallel lines, some distance from each other, and each child has the same flashcard as the child opposite. The teacher stands in the middle holding out a handkerchief or small scarf and at random calls one of the words on the cards (A horse! Thirteen! She's running! or whatever). The two children with the same card have to race to the centre and try and grab the handkerchief. The one who gets it scores a point for their team. If you have a large class you can use four teams and have them stand around four sides of a square. If you have unequal numbers, one student can hold the handkerchief and call the word (which you can cue by showing her/him a flashcard).


Photo provided under Creative Commons License by Starrgazr via flickr

Further Reading ...


Tracy Lee said...

Thank you for choosing my photo for your post, however, Flickr terms of service states that you must link a photo used from their site back to the original photo on Flickr. Please link the photo back to the original posting on Flickr at

Thank you,

Tracy Lee Carroll

Sue Swift said...

Hi Tracy Lee,
I'm the one who should be thanking you for being so generous as to provide the photo -I'm always amazed how many really good photos people are willing to offer under Creative Commons Licence on flickr.
I've amended the link, and it now goes straight back to the photo page. I'd misunderstood the terms as meaning there had to be a link to flickr itself.

Tracy Lee said...

Hello Sue,

It seems you have added an "s" to my name in the URL link. It should be



Tracy Lee

Sue Swift said...

Oh dear - I'm sorry. I'm not doing too well, am I? I'll change it immediately.