Karuta is a Japanese card game that is played with a group of people and can be very useful for helping children learn new vocabulary or a second language.
The group sits in a circle at a table or on the floor. There are two sets of cards. One of the sets is spread face-up inside the circle. The second set of cards is in a pile face-down.
From this point there are two differen versions of this game depending on your teaching goals (ie. learning new vocabulary words or learning a second language).
Version One (Learning New Vocabulary Words):
One person draws a card from the face-down pile. They say the word on their card to the rest of the group. The rest of the group searches for the matching card in the face-up cards in the center of the circle. The first person to pick up the correct card wins that round.
Version Two (Learning a Second Language):
One person draws a card from the face-down pile, but keeps the card a secret.
Then, going around the circle, each person uses a sentence such as, "Did you draw the word...?" or "Did you pick a...?" to guess which card the person drew. The person with the secret card responds in a full sentence such as, "No, I did not pick a..." until the correct card is guessed.
Once the correct card is guessed, the people in the circle look for the matching card in the center of the circle. The first person to pick up the correct card wins that round.
If you want to keep points you can let the person who won the round keep the card from the face-down pile. Each card they have is one point.
Make sure to put the other card back into the face-up pile in the center of the circle again so it makes the game more challenging.
The winner can be decided the following ways:
- by the person with the most points when all the cards are gone, or
- by the person who gets a certain number of points first (ie. 10), or
- by the person with the most points at the end of a set time limit
Karuta is traditionally played with vocabulary words. It can be adapted to different types of flashcards as well, such as alphabet cards or number cards. Just print two sets of the flash cards so that there is a set for the face-down pile and the face-up cards.
Flash Cards on the site:
- Word Wall Vocabulary Cards (print two copies of the set of your choosing)
- Alphabet Flash Cards (print two copies or allow matching of the upper case with lower case)
- Number Flash Cards (print two copies)
- Parts of a Sentence Flash Cards (print two copies of the flashcard sets you are interested in).
- Phonics Flash Cards (print two copies of the flashcards in the "Word Families - free printable worksheets" section of the word family you are interested in)