ESL Letter Cards

My favourite teaching resource is letter cards. They are cheap and easy to make. They’re versatile and the kids love them.

What you Need:

  • A list of words
  • Coloured card (4 or 6 different colours depending on how many sets you’d like to make)
  • Black marker pen
  • You can also do it with white card and different coloured marker pens
  • Scissors

How to Make the Cards:

  • Start by creating a list of the words you want the students to be able to spell.
  • Check how many letters you need for each word (for example: you need 3 Ps and 2 Es to spell “pineapple”).
  • I always make sure that I have at least one of every letter (e.g. X and Z) even if I have no words with those letters.
  • Cut the card into appropriate sized pieces. About a quarter of an A4 sheet is probably about right.
  • Write the letters on the cards (you can do a mix of capital and lower-case if you like, though I usually just do capital).
  • Ensure that you have exactly the same letters for each set that you are making.
  • Keep some extra card in case you want to add extra letters (“nineteen” needs 3 Ns).

Some of my favourite ways to use the Cards:


  • You can use one set and give them out, one to each student.
  • Now ask the students to put themselves into alphabetical order.
  • This works well for students in early primary school.
Grade 5 students in Sri Lanka spelling

Grade 5 students in Sri Lanka spelling


  • The main activity I use them for is spelling.
  • I divide the students into groups. Each group gets a set of cards.
  • I say a word (that’s on the list) and the first team to spell that word with their cards gets a point.
  • More interactive and more fun than a normal spelling bee.


  • You can also use the cards for anagrams.
  • Just ask the students to see how many words they can make with the cards or with a subset of the cards.

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