This study aims to investigate the effectiveness of pictures and first language (L1) vocabulary items both as instruction methods and as cues for recall in the learning of second language (L2) vocabulary items by children. In an experimental study with Turkish EFL learners, L2 vocabulary items were presented with L1 words in one group and with pictures in the other one. In the post-tests which required learners to provide the L2 vocabulary items for pictures and L1 words, both the L1 word instructed group and picture instructed group performed better in their L2 responses to pictures than to L1 word items. The results of the study suggest that superiority of pictures over L1 words in the recall of L2 vocabulary items by children is due to their effectiveness as cues for recall rather than due to their superiority as a learning method. (C) 2015 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd.