Classroom Games and Activities
A list of classroom games and activities, intended for English teachers, but appropriate for many other students as well...
Games and Sleeves Activities Alibi
Battleships (phonetics) Bingo Change Places If…
A crime has been committed and 2 people are suspected of the crime; they deny their guilt and claim to have the perfect alibi; 2 pupils are chosen as suspects and go outside for 5/10 minutes to invent a detailed story for their movements on the evening of the crime (where they were, who they were with, what they ate, how long they were there etc); meanwhile the class, as the police, thinks of questions to ask the suspects; then split the class into 2 equal groups, and make sure each student has at least one or two of the questions to ask (where did you meet your friend? What were you wearing? Etc); call the suspects back in; each group questions a suspect; then the groups either switch and question the other suspect with the same questions, or both groups come together to discuss what they found out and whether they think the suspects are guilty or not; meanwhile, let the suspects sit together and talk about what questions they found difficult to answer, and what things they think they have said different things for; ask the class to deliver their verdict with their reasons; encourage the students to name the contradictions by using ‘whereas’ ‘while’ ‘but’ ‘therefore’ etc. Also good for famous people, jobs etc; students write an animal name on a sticker and keeps it hidden from everyone else; stick it on someone else’s back; every person goes round, asks questions with yes/no answers to find out what they are; max. 3 questions per person before moving on; bring everyone together – who hasn’t guessed what they are; get everyone to help giving clues Every student has a page with 2 identical grids; instead of numbers/letters to find a square, have words with similar sounds e.g. wheel, veal; top grid to choose their own positions; bottom grid for finding their partners For phonetic symbols, large numbers, times, weights and measures, vocab (pictures/symbols on the cards) Students stand up and make a circle with you in the middle; use scrap paper to mark each place and get students to stand on one piece each; change place if…you’re wearing blue
Cops and Robbers
Countdown Crossword Clues
socks; you’ve climbed a tree; you watched tv yesterday, or ask students to only form questions using the present perfect Fold up pieces of paper with key concepts/recent vocabulary on; students take turns to act out the idea and get the rest of the class to guess (also in small groups to maximise speaking practice) Small groups; give clues one at a time, starting with the hardest; points awarded depending on how soon they guess (but only one guess per clue) e.g. It’s a small country; It’s in South America; It begins with an E… Each player has a sheet of paper and a pencil and is asked to write down a man’s name, fold the paper so that the name is hidden and pass it on to the next player; the second step is to write and followed by a woman’s name and to fold the paper again and pass it on; Then come where they met, what he said, what she said and finally the consequence was that… before the papers are unfolded and read out e.g. Charles Dickens met Snow White at Paddington Station. He said ‘It’s going to rain soon’. She said ‘When’s your birthday?’. The consequence was that they both fell into the lake; alternatively, a paper may have a picture at the top and each student must write a caption for the picture, folding it over each time, or describing the emotion of the person shown Split the class into 2 teams – cops and robbers; the teacher is the judge; get a number of small items and place them in the middle of the classroom with one team on each side of the classroom (or playground); give each cop and each robber a number; call out an object and say a number e.g. pencil – 6; the robber with that number must try and get the item while the cop must try and tag the robber; if the robber gets back to their chair without being tagged they say ‘I’ve got the…’ or if the cop tags the robber, they say ‘I’ve caught the robber’; award a point to the robber/cop – use ladder charts on the board; game ends when all the items have been gathered Set a task and a time-limit; use countdown music to maintain motivation to complete the task Ask students to write clues for a crossword on a topic chosen by the class/a crossword
Definitions (as a class) Definitions Game
Drawing Abstract Nouns Filling The Gaps
Find Someone Who… Happy Families
already compiled by the teacher; demonstrate the problem of multiple answers if a clue isn’t precise; practice creating and writing concise definitions; ask students to compare answers/or have a few small groups with different crosswords – can they fill in the answers by looking at the other teams clues Put keywords on the board, enough for one per student plus a couple extra; students take it in turns to pick a word and define it; if the definition is correct, the word is rubbed off and they sit down Put students in groups with a small pile of strips face down in the middle; 1 person picks up a slip and defines a word; others try to guess; person who guesses keeps the card; most cards win Use letters, photos and cartoons to depict vocabulary/concept; ask students to guess the answer, or to develop dingbats themselves and then switch to guess each other’s answers Divide definition and term; homophones; synonyms or antonyms etc.; normal domino rules or help each other as a group to complete an entire chain; could use pictures to help young learners Ask students to try to draw a concept (e.g. happiness, beauty, usefulness, hate); puts students into groups to compare their drawings and discuss why they drew what they did Each learner has a number of cards, each bearing a letter clearly visible; use letters that occur most often in English (e,a,t,o,n,I,s,h,d,l); think of a word and ask for certain letters in it; place the students who have those letters in order, but leaving gaps where other letters are missing; the class has to guess the word and the missing letters come forward to fill the gaps; with vocabulary such as animals, show a picture once the word has been completed to check all students understand its meaning, or use CCQs Pre-prepared sheet or list on board; students have to ask each other questions to find a person for each category; no person allowed more than twice on the page Card Game, to practise polite questions & courtesy – Can I have Mr Bones please? (I don’t have Mr Bones) Please can I have Miss Carrot? (Yes, here you are); players take turns to ask questions to try and complete a family; one with the most families wins; could also add
Interconnecting Words Race I Spy I Went to the shop and bought a…
in conditionals e.g. If I give you Miss Fish, will you give me Mr Bones?; for young children, give everyone a card; ask one child from each family to the front of the class; these children read out who they are (I am Mr Bones) and then choose someone and asks them their name; if they are from the same family, they go out and join the questioner, and ask someone else the same question; if not, the next child at the front asks someone; first complete family wins Give each group a different daily newspaper; get them to find 5 language (or other topic relating to recent vocabulary) based headlines; quickest team wins; discuss what counts as language and the topics of the articles in groups/as a class Divide the class into groups; put a chair for each group with the back to the board, facing the team members; 1 student from each group sits on the chair; take a word from a vocabulary bag and write it on the board; team members define the word without saying it or using mime; team member who guesses first gets a point Based on the board game; a picture board of a winding start/finish board; each square has a picture of, for example, an animal, a vehicle, a food, a building, an everyday object; for each group there is a pack of cards, each of which has a clearly printed instruction; players take turns to draw a card and read it aloud; players should justify their moves and feel free to argue against it e.g. If this is something you can buy at a local supermarket, move forward two spaces; unless this is an animal you can keep as a pet, stay where you are; unless this is something everyone needs, go back to the beginning; teacher should act as umpire, as students are likely to disagree with each other on some things; first to the finish wins Similar to ladders but students in teams go from top to bottom of the whiteboard with criss-crossing words (like in scrabble) For classroom vocabulary; I spy with my little eye something beginning with…or one-twothree, what can I see, something in this room beginning with… Memory game – I went to the shop and bought a … (revise food etc); I went to the zoo and saw a … (animals); I went to school and had a … lesson etc.; students draw the foods on
Matchstick Questions Missing Element Musical Dictation
Next Scene Old MacDonald Pictionary Pictionary Story
the board – use as prompts for new vocabulary; practice pronunciation as students read out from the pictures on the board Draw ladders on the whiteboard, one per team; students, in teams, put a word on each rung (getting longer as they go up); set a theme, words connected with______, or words starting with______, or containing a certain sound or letter Each student gets 2/3 matchsticks; must get rid of them by answering questions before the end of the lesson Remove an area of a photo; ask students to discuss what they think is there are what they would like to be there Split class into groups of 3/4; Each group has a pen and passes it to each other while the music plays; when the music stops the person holding the pen must write down what the teacher says (vary difficulty – could start with single words, then short phrases, then full sentences); go through the words and spelling after; each group awards themselves points for each correct word; use to revise recent vocabulary/grammar with the class Go round the class assigning letters from the alphabet; every student (and the teacher) must come up with a country for that letter, the nationality of the people and the language they speak Set up a script on a topic and ask students to write/act out the likely next scene; can add complications, such as the script has to fit in key words, or use 3 different tenses Song for revising farmyard vocabulary with young children Teams or whole class; 1 person picks a word and has to draw it; others try to guess what it is Read out a short story quickly to the class; students have to record the story without using numbers or words, or using key words/nouns/verbs/adjectives only; compare the success of recording with a partner and try to reconstruct the story Copy some images and cut them into 4/5 random pieces; give out one piece per student; must keep it hidden and describe what they see on their piece to guess which pieces fit together to make a full image; walk around the class asking each other questions to find the rest of their group
Sentences in a Hat
Sit Down, Stand Up
Give several strips of paper to each student; ask them to write one sentence on each which is true about them; can specify a tense or structure e.g. used to, or give them some sentence beginnings on the board for the students to complete; collect the strips into a hat (correcting as you do so); ask students to stand up in the middle of the class; take one strip each and have to find the person who wrote it by making it into a questions; when they find the author, they write their name on it and come back for more slips until all are gone Use for specific vocabulary e.g pick up your pencil, your ruler…; directions e.g. turn to your right/left; actions e.g. jump up and down; touch the wall etc; body parts e.g. touch your nose etc. Students sees 5-10 minutes of a short film with action in it, at least twice, with the sound turned off; groups discuss their interpretation of what happened – who are the people? Where are they? What has been happening; the film is then shown with the sound turned on; subsequent discussion to use I thought…, I was right/wrong…It didn’t look as if…and compare interpretations Choose a song and write some key words on the board that are used a lot in the lyrics; ask students to choose 2/3 words each, and to not tell others what they are; when they hear one of their words, they stand up; hear another, sit down etc.; have to try and guess what words their neighbours chose; good with downtown, yellow submarine etc. Each group has a pen and paper, and one student in each group does the writing; first students are 2/3 minutes to write down all the names of foods they can think of; then another 2/3 minutes for drinks; then clothes; then tools (depending on the level); group a read out their list; anything that another group has is crossed off by every group; then group b read out what they still have left, and anything shared by other groups is crossed off; then group c, etc.; the results not crossed out on any list are the items only that group thought of; tell students they have been shipwrecked on a desert island, and this is all the food, drink and clothing (and tools) they have; ask each group to think about how they will survive, what is useful and what is not on their list
Uncle Archie’s Cat
Good for reviewing vocabulary; mark out a race track with bands across the whiteboard; put paper snails, one per team, at one end; read out definitions and the first team to shout out the answers gets their snail moved on one place Give each student a question and put the chairs into 2 circles, an inner circle facing out with each chair paired with one in the outer circle facing in; student pairs ask each other their question; inner circle rotate one seat clockwise, then outer circle one seat anticlockwise A river with crocodiles is drawn on the board/mapped out on the floor and the task is to cross it by stepping stones; for each stone a word has to be correctly spelt (written on board or on a piece of paper); could be in teams – if correctly spelt, they progress a stone, if not they stay still, first team to the other side wins; Write 3/4 syllable words with stress in different places on strips of paper; students choose one at random each and keep it secret; have to go round the class and hum the stress in the word (e.g. historical=hmm-HMM-hmm-hmm) to find out which other people have the same stress pattern as them and form groups; check words as a class Give each group a stack of cards with a key word on and a few connected words/collocations they are not allowed to use; students take turns to turn over a card and define it to their group without using the given words; person who guesses keeps the card; most cards wins Grid on board – A1, A2 etc. Letters each have a verb; numbers have a tense. Fill grid with points, change points symbols and points wipeout typhoons. Keep scoreboard for teams; encourage peer-correction. The first student begins with a and says ‘Uncle Archie’s cat is an alarming/angry cat’; the second player has to think of an adjective beginning with b (bad/brave) etc; to make more difficult for higher levels, add adverbs to adjectives eg. alarmingly fierce/dangerously thin; badly behaved; carefully groomed etc; could be played in small groups with lower levels, so students think of an adjective together in 3’s/4’s, or that a player who can’t think of an adjective is ‘out’, but can come back into the game if another person gets stuck and they
Use Words Whilst Talking About…
Vocabulary Bag What’s In My Bag?
Where Is It?
Who Am I?
can think of an appropriate word Put students into small groups and ask them to draw out slips at random from a vocabulary bag, and to keep them secret; give them a topic to talk about and tell them they have to try and use their words in a conversation in a natural manner; either they lay down the slips when they use the word, or their team mates must guess when they think a word was used noticeably – if correct, the student takes another slip Keep an envelope/bag/box with slips of blank paper, and record new vocabulary as you go in lessons; use activities for future activities, and to revise vocabulary later on Teacher asks what have I got in my bag today, and the children have to guess; when there is a correct guess, bring the item out and show it to them; brush up vocabulary by putting specific items in (from previous lessons vocab) and dropping hints for the children; also encourage plurals – one postcard or some postcards Students close their eyes/turn around while a small object is hidden; they all have to make at least one guess about where it is (encourage prepositions, questions or statements); person who guesses right hides the item again; alternatively, give each student a list of items that have been hidden in the room somewhere; students have to look for them in the room and write down where they are within a time limit (The…is… or There is a…) Practice pronunciation of areas students have trouble recognising, especially long numbers or similar phonemics; teacher whispers to a student; students whisper in a line to each other; last student writes on the board; keep moving student places around Everyone imagines themselves to be someone else (a well-known living person or historical figure); everyone makes up two short sentences about themselves e.g. I lived in…; I was a scientist/astronaut/footballer; other students guess who they are, or use a mill-drill where students have to speak to everyone to guess who they are, scribble it down, and then compare ideas as a class after; for young children, have one child facing the wall with their back to the others; various children say a phrase in turn, such as good morning, disguising their voices; if the speaker cannot guess who it is, or guesses incorrectly, they change places with the speaker; alternatively, ask the children to pretend
to be an animal and think of two short sentences about that animal as a clue for the others e.g. I’m very small and I have 8 legs Create a wordsearch with clues/definitions that the students have to work out to know what word they are searching for