Counting Cards is an activity which lets you practice countable and non-countable nouns with your class.
You will need to prepare a set of flashcards, each with a picture of a countable or a non-countable noun on them. You will need enough so that each student in the class can have at least 5.
The nouns you choose should also be of the right level so your class will be able to name each of them in English.
Running the Activity
Briefly revise countable and non-countable nouns with your class and make sure your students understand the principle behind them.
Now arrange the students in a circle at their desks and deal out – face down – around 5 cards to each student. Make sure the students don’t show anyone else their cards but they should look at them and work out which show countable nouns and which show non-countable.
Explain to them that the idea is to get a complete hand of either countable or non-countable cards. How do they do this? Each time you shout, “Change!” they must pass one of their cards to the person on their left. Pause so they can check their hand and then call, “Change!” again.
Keep doing this until one student stands up with a full hand of either countable or non-countable cards. The first time you play this game you can go quite slowly so the students have time to think about the card, work out whether it’s countable or non-countable, and whether what they receive needs to be kept or passed on. Likewise they’ll begin to think about what the students either side are collecting.
But – and here’s where it gets fun – once they’re familiar with the game you can start to speed up the changes. Your students will have less and less time to decide if the card is countable or non-countable and this will help to distinguish countable and non-countable nouns in a fraction of a second!
Variations on a Theme
With a little thought, this same game can also be played with other grammatical items: regular vs irregular verbs, adverbs vs adjectives and so on.