Fun ways to use card sorts in your science classroom

Keeping secondary students engaged in a lesson can be challenging at times. I have found that card sorts help to keep them motivated and interested plus it provides a quick overview of their understanding.

Card Sorts are a great way to incorporate group work into your lessons. It can get your students moving around, especially if you use them as a treasure hunt activity. 

It can help less confident students to give their opinion in a small group. They will be more likely to move a card around on the table than raise their hand in class to answer a question.



Card Sorts are perfect for review activities. I have included summary pages with most of my card sorts. Students can complete these once they have correctly completed the card sort. This ensures that they leave your lesson with a complete summary of the key concepts.

My Biology & Life Science Vocabulary Card Sorts each contain a vocabulary summary sheet and an answer key. I keep laminated copies of answer sheets in a file. Students can check their work before they write down the definitions on their summary sheet. 

Hop over to the Resource Library to get a free copy of the Respiration Vocabulary Card Sort.

Bell Ringers

I have often used card sorts as bell ringer activities. I will give them a time limit to sort the cards and then we will check them as a whole class. This works best with smaller decks of cards, like my Properties of Waves Card Sort.

Properties of waves card sort


Heating and Cooling Curves Card Sort

Since the COVID pandemic forced us to have less face to face teaching time, I have used the flipped classroom model much more. Using a card sort in a lesson provides a quick overview of whether your students grasp the concepts that they had to work through at home.

I love using my Heating & Cooling Curves Card Sort in this way. Students will work through the theory at home. I will put a large print out of the graph on my whiteboard (you can also project it onto the board). Students can then stick the cards in the correct place. You can also have large copies of the graphs for each group.


Sometimes students already know more about a topic than we think. Using a card sort at the start of a unit can provide you with a quick overview of previous knowledge. I use my Separation Techniques Card Sort in this way. I can instantly see which techniques they are already familiar with.

Separation Techniques Card Sort


This one can get a bit loud! This activity is perfect for vocabulary revision. Stick the different definition cards all over your classroom and the keywords on the whiteboard. Students must find a card and match it to the words on the word.