Back and forth
Divide students into two teams. Get a student form each side to stand up. You set the category i.e. days of the week or fruit etc. The students must say one word then the next student quickly says another related word. When one of them breaks the order (A: Monday B: Tuesday A: Wednesday B: Saturday), takes more than 5 seconds to respond or says an irrelevant word to the category they lose.
Back to the board
Have a student stand at the front with their back to the board. Write a word on the board. Classmates or team have to explain the word by saying what you can do with it, where you can find it etc. This works well when having 2 teams and giving the student at the front a minute per round.
Give each student a blank piece of A4 paper. Have them draw a grid as demonstrated below:
Use the relevant vocabulary according to your grammar point. Instruct them to draw a happy face in any 3 squares and to keep the locations of their faces hidden from other students. In pairs, have them battling to get rid of their opponent’s happy faces by asking questions. For instance, in the above example, by asking questions ‘Can I/you/he/she…?’ If there is a face in the corresponding square, the response is positive and the face is eliminated. If not, student gives a negative response.
Bean bag/ball toss
Lay out flashcards on the floor. Give a student a bean bag, ball or anything else that can be thrown. Have them stand facing the wall and throw the object behind them. They must then make a sentence with the card nearest to where the bag object has landed.
Behind the back chase
Get 2 students to stand up facing each other. Place a flashcard behind their backs and have them hold on to it. Don’t reveal the cards to the students stood up or let the class shout out the words. When you say go they compete to try and see their opponent’s card and shout out the word in order to win.
Give each student a blank sheet of paper. Have them draw a grid of 6 boxes. Tell them to write a word in each. Depending on the students’ level you can have them pick 6 months of the year or 6 common nouns etc. Call out related vocabulary at random. If a student has 1 of the words they can tick it off. The first student to tick off all of their words shouts BINGO and wins.
Make one student stand up and turn their chair around so that nobody can sit on it. Ensure that any spare chairs are also turned around. There are many variations of this game, largely depending on the ability level of your students. Generally speaking, you will ask the student standing up if a question. If you ask, for example, “what do you like?” and the student replies “I like playing computer games”, the students who also like computer games must swap chairs (the standing student must attempt to find an empty chair). There will always be a student in the middle to answer the question.
Bring a student to the front of the class. Show them a flashcard or word without anyone else seeing it. Have the student mime the action and the rest of the class try to guess the vocabulary.
Make/have two copies of the flashcard set. Lay the cards out on the floor face down. Students take turns to stand up and turn over two cards- shouting out the card after they turn it over. If the cards match they get to keep the cards. Student with the biggest collection at the end wins the game.
Make a set of word only cards and do a copy. Lay the cards out on the floor face down. Students take turns to stand up and turn over two cards- shouting out the card after they turn it over. If the cards match they get to keep the cards. Student with the biggest collection at the end wins the game.
Crossing the lake
Draw a big lake on the floor. Lay out flashcards as stepping stones. Have the students start on one side of the ‘lake’ and then taking turns to cross to the other side. When they step on a card they must say the vocabulary. If they can’t then they ‘fall into the lake’ and have to start again. Add drama by creating a story of sharks and crocodiles lurking in the water.
Lay out a set of flashcards in front of the students. Give them a few seconds to memorize the cards and the order. Make them close their eyes whilst you take a card away. When they open their eyes they try to guess which has disappeared.
Easy or hard
Have two piles of word cards faced down- an easy pile and a hard pile. Easy cards are worth 1 point, hard are worth 3. Students play in teams. They take turns to select a card and attempt to overcome the challenge of making a sentence with the word on the card, spelling the word or whatever is suitable for that particular ability group.
Give each student a piece of paper and tell them to draw a fish and cut it out. Draw two lines on either side of the room i.e. a racing track with a start and a finish line. Bring the first set of students to the starting line and have them line up their fish on the floor. Ask each student a question related to the grammar and vocabulary of the lesson. If they answer correctly they can blow or fan their textbook once to propel their fish forward. The first fish to cross the finish line wins the race.
Fast flashcard collecting
Reveal flashcards to the class one by one. The first student to say the word on the card successfully keeps the card. The biggest collection when all the cards are handed out wins.
Shuffle your flashcards and hand them out to the students faced down. If you have more students than different flashcards make some copies beforehand. Stand at the front and say ‘give me…’ the student(s) with the relevant card should come forward and give it to you.
Grab the card
Make 2 lines of students, one on either side of the room. Draw lines that they must stand behind until they can go. Have a pile of flashcards in the middle. When you shout out the two students at the front of each line must race to grab to right card and say it.
Bring a student to the front, have them face the board. Place a card behind their back, displaying to the rest of the class. Student asks simple questions i.e. ‘is it a dog?’ ‘is it a cat?’, the rest of the class respond with a positive or negative answer.
Conceal a card or piece of paper with a word written on it from the students. Give them 3 hints as to what the word is i.e. 1. I am very big 2. I’m an animal 3. I’m gray (word=elephant). Give them a minute to shout out guesses. The student who guesses correctly first gets the point. Adapt the game according to the level.
Jumping on the card
Spread out the cards on the floor. Have all students sat on their chairs. When you shout out a word they race to the correct card, jump on it and shout the word 5 times. This works having students in teams and having head to head rounds with 1 student from each team competing to get a point.
Have students in two teams, lined up. Stand at the front and reveal a flashcard for a split second to the two students at the front of the lines. The first one to shout out the correct answer wins the point for their team. They then go to the back of the line and the next two come forward.
Get a rope and a student at either side to hold it stretched out. Other students line up at one side of the rope. They must say the word on the card correctly then go under the rope without touching it. Start the rope at a reasonable height and lower it after every round. Eliminate students as the touch the rope while passing under it or fall to the floor during their attempt.
To explain this game an example needs to be used.
Grammar point: Can you……? Yes I can/ No, I can’t.
Vocabulary: Swim, dance, run, climb.
First of all give each student 4 credit card sized pieces of paper. Get them to write each new vocabulary word on them (1 on each). Then explain to the students that when the teacher says ‘go!’ they will all stand up and immediately say ‘Look!’ and point to another student. The student who is pointed at should say ‘What?’ the 1st student should then choice a vocabulary word and used the grammar too ‘Can you swim?’ If the other child still has the paper with ‘swim’ on then they say ‘yes I can’ and hand it over, if they don’t have it they say ‘No, I can’t’.
- ‘Can you swim?’
- ‘Yes I can’-then hand over piece of paper or ‘No, I can’t’ and then move on to another student.
Each student will be doing the same thing at the same time so any discrepancies as to who said ‘Look!’ first get them to play ‘rock, paper, scissors’. The student with the most cards at the end wins.
Students sit in a circle. Lay out the flashcards in the middle. Choose 1 student to be the memorizer. Each of the other students in turn chooses a word to be theirs for that round but they cannot take the card from the middle. After all the cards have been selected, the memorizer must try to give the cards out to the correct owners.
Line the flashcards on the floor. Play music or sing some kind of tune whilst the students are walking in a circle around the cards. When the sound stops the students say the card closest to them.
Have a line of chairs back to back. Put flashcards down on the chairs. Play music or sing whilst the students are walking around the outside. When the music stops they sit down and then go around saying the words on their chairs. You can add an elimination element to the game by turning around a chair after each round so that the students can’t sit on it. The student left without a chair when the music stops is out.
Ordering the cards
Put students into pairs. Give them a set of cards each. Say the vocabulary in a random order and finish by saying “go!” At that point each pair must race against the others to assemble their cards in the order that you called them out.
Over and under
Have the students in 2 lines. Give the front two students a flashcard each. When you say go they must pass it back switching between over their head and under i.e. between their legs. Each time a student receives the card they must shout out the word.
Pass the card
Get the students into a circle. Pass a flashcard around. Each student has to say the word then pass it around. To make it more lively try to have several cards circulating simultaneously.
Bring a student to the board. Reveal to them a word or sentence and have them portray it by drawing it on the board. The other students attempt to guess it. Alternatively get a student form each team to draw on the board at the same time and their team-mates trying to guess what the picture is.
Make two lines of students (preferably teams). You stand at the front. Reveal a flashcard to the two students at the front of the lines and the first to say it correctly wins and goes to the back of the line. The next two come forward. If you have a teaching assistant you can have them putting the writing the points to speed up the game.
Stand your students on one side of the room. You stand in the middle. Reveal a flashcard for a couple of seconds. Students can come up to you and whisper what they think is the answer. If they are correct they are allowed to move over to the other side of the room. If wrong they must stay on that side.
Roll the dice
Write the numbers 1 to 6 on the board and give each number a word or sentence. Students take turns to roll the dice. They simply say the sentence or word that corresponds with the number they roll. Depending on the level you can make it more complicated. For example, you can have 1= say a past tense sentence 2= say a future tense sentence 3= spell a word the teacher says etc. Also you can allocate a certain forfeit to a number such as dance, sing, say a slightly embarrassing sentence 5 times etc. You can easily incorporate teams and points into the game.
Round the track
Assemble a big collection of flashcards. Lay them out into a big square or circle track around the room every student starts on a different square. In turn they roll a dice and move forward the X amount of times. They have to say a word or make a sentence with the card they have landed on.
Using 2 identical sets of flashcards, place them on the floor in the centre of the room in 2 separate line back to back to each other (like you would with chairs in a game of musical chairs) but not in the same order. Then split students into 2 teams and line them up on either side of the flashcards on the floor (a little like a snake on either side of the flashcard line). The teacher or a student should call out the word, phonic or grammar structure on one of the flashcards. The student at the front of each line must jump and sit in front of the correct flashcard, say it and sit down. Every member of the team should repeat these steps one by one then all students raise their hands. The 1st team to complete this wins.
Hand out some fake money or another form of counter to each student. Stand at the front and say a sentence which is not overly easy for them (in fact the more confusing yet grammatically correct the better). After each sentence, students have a brief opportunity to bet a sum of their pot on whether the sentence is grammatically correctly/true or false. Other students can bet against them if they wish. Reveal the validity of your sentence and settle the bet. You can also allow students to earn extra money from you by correcting the sentences. The student with the most money after a given time wins.
Sit behind a desk with the flashcards laid out on it. Students line up and take turns to tell you what they want or would like. Create a dialogue which, depending on the level of your students, is something like:
Teacher: “what do you want/would you like?”
Student: “I want/would like a… please.”
Teacher: (gives them the card they asked for) ”here you go.”
Student: “thank you very much.”
Student then sits down with their card. This sets up a range of other games in which the student says the word(s) of their flashcard. You can also develop the dialogue by giving each student some fake money beforehand and have them query you on the price etc.
Hold your pack of flashcards facing the students. Very slowly start to reveal the one of the cards behind the front card and have students shout out what they think it will be.
Spin the bottle
Students sit in a circle. Spin a bottle in the middle. Whoever the top of the bottle is pointing towards has to say a piece of vocabulary, sentence, spelling etc.
Give each student a flashcard and have them sit on their chair. Stand at the front and shout out the words at random. When their flashcard is called out students must stand up, say it then sit back down. Start slowly and pick up the pace. Have students switch cards after every minute or so.
The paper, scissors, rock challenge
Lay out a line of flashcards on the floor and have a team of students lined up at either side. The two at the front walk on opposite sides of the cards to the opposite direction, saying the vocabulary as they walk past each card. When both students have reached the other side, have them do a round of paper, scissors, rock; the winner receiving a point. Alternatively, you can simply do a relay race format with this game in which each team must race to get all of their team to the other side after successfully saying all of the vocabulary.
Sit your students in a circle. Pass the flashcard around the circle and countdown from 15 seconds. The student holding the cards at the end has to say.
Give each team a pile of cards with the alphabet/numbers/days of the week/months etc time how long it takes them to put them in order. Repeat the process and have them trying to beat their best time.
True or false
Draw a line down the middle of the class. One side is true other side is false. Stand at the front holding up a flashcard. You either say the actual word of the card or a false word. Students must run to whichever side of the room they think is correct.
Flashcard head to head races
Draw a starting line at the back of the class. Lay out your flashcards at the front. Bring 2 students from each team to stand behind the line. When you say go one student per team will say the grammar point whilst the other runs to pick up a flashcard and shouts it out. After the race have all the class shout out the full grammar point and vocabulary.
Connect the dots
Draw a square grid of 10 by 10 dots on the board. Have two teams of students. Go around the class, team 1 first then team 2 etc, asking them questions or getting them to say the grammar point and vocabulary for that lesson. If a student is correct they may come and draw one line to join two dots together. If their line completes a square, put the team’s initials in the square. The team with the most squares when all lines have been drawn are the winners.
Get it, say it
On either side of the classroom put 3 or more flashcards. Have a student from each team sat on the floor in the middle of the room. When you say a sentence with one of the flashcard vocabulary in it they jump up and race to the right card, hold it in the air and say the full sentence.
Knock it off
If your board has a ledge on along the bottom to hold stationary, line your flashcards up along it. Draw a line about 10 feet away from the board (depending on the age group). In turn students stand behind the line, say the sentence including the vocabulary form one of the flashcards. If they are correct they can throw a ball or small eraser to try and knockout one of the cards.
Leading up to a test set your students the task of looking through the work book and writing what the key grammar, vocabulary etc is from the units they have done on this course. Then tell them to write a list of 10 possible questions that will appear on their speaking test. When all students are finished, put them into random pairs and have them test each other. Tell them to mark the other person out of 5 and write down any mistakes they have made.
Get students in a circle. Give one student a ball. They start by asking another student in the circle a question then throwing them the ball. The receiver answers the question the passes the ball and asks another student.
Have students in a circle. Write a sentence on the board. Throw a balloon in the air. The first student to hit the balloon says the first word of the sentence; the next student says the second word etc.
Have students in a circle. Bring one into the middle and blindfold them. Spin them round 5 times then have them point to a student and begin a conversation. They should try to guess who they are talking to by listening carefully to the voice.
Duck, duck, goose
Students sit in a circle on the floor. 1 student, ‘Bob’ stands up and taps the head of each child whilst saying a word i.e. apple. ‘Bob’ will eventually tap a student’s head and say a different word, such as orange, this student should then jump up and catch ‘Bob’ before he sits in their seat. If they catch him then ‘Bob’ repeats this process. If they don’t catch Bob they are the next person to be ‘it’.
Have one team line up at the front of the classroom. Create a ‘catwalk’ for the students to walk down one by one and exhibit what they are wearing. Create the back story by telling them they are fashion models. As the walk down the catwalk they have to say a sentence about a piece of clothing i.e. ‘I am wearing a beautiful blue t-shirt’.
Put your students in two lines. Stand at the front and say a sentence such as ‘how are you today?’ The student at the front of each line must go down the line and say the sentence to each student then stand at the back of the line. The first team to get back to the start position wins.
Put your students into one or more ‘trains’ by having them line up and hold onto each other’s shoulders. Shout out words such as ‘slowly’, ‘quickly’ to direct them around the room etc.
Hide the Flashcard
One student stands outside the classroom whilst another student on the opposing team inside the classroom hides the flashcard with new vocabulary on it. When the student comes back in to look for the flashcard all students chant the word louder as the student gets nearer to the flashcard and quieter as the student moves further away from the flashcard to give the student an idea when they are near to the flashcard.
Pass around an object or flashcard. Tell the students what it’s called. Say to the first student “this is a…” the student must answer “a what?” you say “a…” The card or object is then quickly passed to the next student and the same dialogue ensues. Develop the game by passing round different objects and cards at the same time.
Split the class into two teams. Give each student a blank piece of paper and have them write their team name on it. Have them stand up and balance the paper on their head. Call out some actions etc and get them moving around. If they drop their paper they must freeze where they are. Another member of their team can pick up the paper and put it back on their head- whilst trying not to drop their own paper. Set a time limit of 3 minutes- the team with most people balancing their paper at the end are the winners.
Take a big blanket or bed sheet into class. Have students stand up and hold onto the edge. Put a ball in the middle. The aim is to toss the ball into the air and catch it in the blanket. Each time it flies up students must say a word or short sentence.
Catch it/drop it
Get the students in a circle with one in the middle of it. Give the one in the middle a ball and tell the others to cross their arms. The ball holder must look at a student and say either “catch it” or “drop it” before throwing them the ball. If they say “catch it”, the student must unfold their arms and catch the ball. If they said “drop it”, they should keep their arms crossed and make no attempt to catch the ball. If they make a wrong move or fail to catch the ball at the right time they are out.
Circle quick switch
Put your students in a standing circle. Select 2-4 pieces of vocabulary and assign them to the students i.e. go around saying. When you call out a word the students who have been given it must run around the circle and back to their position.
Choose a student to be ‘it’. You then say a colour and ‘it’ must find a person with that colour clothing on and touch it. The student who has been touched then becomes ‘it’.
Copy my chant
In a standing circle, have your students clapping a continuous beat. The beat combination is up to, you can keep it very basic or mix up the tempo etc. One person is in the middle. They must think of a series of 4-6 words to chant in time with the beat. When they have one in mind they can stand in front of any student in the circle and perform their chant. If the other student cannot correctly replicate the chant, in terms of correct words and word order plus in time with the beat sequence; they are in the middle.
Before you start, tell the students that every word with a certain number in it (i.e. 5, 15, 25 etc) is to be changed to a word such as ‘apple’ or ‘monkey’. Go around the room counting up to 100 or down from 100. If a player fails to substitute the number for the word they are out.
Get the students to push themselves off the floor, facing the ceiling, on their hands and legs (crab position). Have them drill vocabulary or ask them questions. If their rear touches the floor they are out.
Do it now
Sit the students in a circle. Choose one to stand in the middle and start performing an action i.e. hopping, dancing etc. Whilst doing this they can tap other students on the head and say “come and… with me now”. The students who have been tapped get up and join in with the action. At some point you call out “stop doing it”! Now the students must race to sit back in the circle. The last one to sit down is now the head tapper in the middle.
Escape the circle
Students are standing in a circle with their legs apart. Each student’s feet must be touching the feet of those next to them. Give one student a ball. Ask them to say what is on the flashcard or a sentence related to the lesson. If they are correct they can try to throw the ball out of the circle through someone’s legs. All feet must be touching each other at all times.
Choose a person to come to the front of the room. Either blindfold them or have them cover their face with a book etc. Tell the rest of the class to switch chairs. Have the one of the others say “hello”/ ”good morning” or any phrase depending on the ability level of your students. If the person at the front successfully guesses who said it they switch places with the speaker. If they can’t, gesture a different student to say a phrase. Encourage your students to try and disguise their voice.
Pass around a ball or other object. Turn and face the wall. When you say stop the person holding it has to say a sentence.
Form two lines, one team on each side, students facing each other. Have them sit down, stretch out their legs and touch feet with the person opposite. Give each pair in the ladder a number or word. When you call out their word, the pair must jump up, hop through the ladder one way then turn around at the end, run down the outside, hop through the bottom part of the ladder and sit back in their position. The first student to do so wins the point for their team.
Choose a student to be the blind person and another to be their guide. Have these two standing on one side of the room. Tell the rest of the students to find a place in the room and stand still. The ‘blind person’ must cover their face with a book (or blindfold them) and the guide must direct them to the other side. If they touch one of the other students they ‘blow up’ and lose the game. The blind person becomes a land mine, the guide becomes the blind person and one of the landmines becomes the new guide.
Learn from the master
Choose a student to be ‘it’. Send them outside. Select a ‘master’ from the remaining students. When you bring ‘it’ back into the room have the other students walk around casually and watch for the master doing a particular action. Everyone else must copy the master. The master can change the action and everyone else must follow their lead. ‘It’ has three guesses of who the master is. If they are incorrect all three times they remain ‘it’. If they guess correctly the master becomes ‘it’.
Lions and tigers
Split the students into 2 teams- lions and tigers. Have them in the middle of the room in two lines about 4 feet apart facing each other. Draw a ‘safety zone’ on either side of the room. Stand at the side and shout out either ‘lions’ or ‘tigers’. The team you shout out must try to run to the safety zone with the other team trying to catch them. If caught the student joins the opposite team.
Nice to meet you
Students are stood in a circle. One student walks clockwise around the outside. At any point they can tap another student on the back. This student must turn around, shake their hand and say “nice to meet you.” The student who is ‘it’ responds “nice to meet you too”. ‘It’ then runs around the circle clockwise whilst the student who was tapped on the back runs anti clockwise. The aim is to beat the other student to the now open place in the circle. The student who is left outside the circle becomes/remains ‘it’.
Race against the ball
Students are in a circle. One sits in the middle each round. Give them a category then give a ball to a student in the circle. The student in the middle must say as many related words as they can before the ball is passed all the way around the circle. Count how many each player can say. After everyone has been in the middle, the player with the most words during their round is the winner.
Students sit in a circle on the floor. Give them a word piece of vocabulary each related to the lesson topic. If you are teaching fruits, give them a fruit each etc. You remain standing, walking around the room and reading out a story. When the students’ word is mentioned in the story they get up and follow you around the room. When you shout “panic” they must quickly run back down into the circle. This is a good test of their listening skills.
Say it quickly
Set a category for the students to follow (perhaps the vocabulary set form that lesson). For lower levels it can be something like fruit and for higher maybe something like adjectives. Pick a student to be ‘it’. ‘It’ must try to tag a student but the others can exempt themselves by saying a word from the category as ‘it’ comes towards them. If a student can say a word then ‘it’ must go for someone else. If the target can’t and they get tagged then they become ‘it’.
Tell me their name
Stand your students in a circle with one in the middle. The student in the middle points to a person in the circle and says either “RIGHT, what is their name please?” or “LEFT, what is their name please?” The student being pointed at must say the person on their right or left’s name before the student in the middle can finish their sentence or they are eliminated. If they confuse right and left they are also out. This game can be easily adapted to different grammar points.
Put your students into small groups. Have them stand together in a circle with their closed fist in the middle. Count down from 5 seconds. The students then decide whether to stick up neither of their thumbs, just one of them or both. The group must then race to count how many thumbs are up as a whole and shout out the number.
Have all the students stand up. Set a category i.e. kinds of drink. Call out words and after each word do the action for the category. If the word is not in the category and the students copy your action or if your word does fit the category but they don’t do they action they are eliminated.
Set out your flashcards in a straight line along the floor, with about 3 feet gaps. Use a big sized ball. Draw a start line on one side. Have them control the ball with their feet in a zigzag fashion through the flashcards. Each time they pass a card they say the vocabulary. At the end they pass the ball back to the person at the front of the line and run to the back of the queue. You can use 2 sets of cards and have teams competing in a relay race.
Balloon volley ball
Divide the classroom into two equal halves. Use a row of chairs as a dividing line through the middle. Put a team on either side. Blow up a balloon and give it to one team. The aim is to hit the balloon over to their opponent’s side and make it touch the floor on the opposite side of the fence to gain a point. Set a theme or category, each time a student hits the balloon they say a related word. Penalise them for not doing so.
Get your students stood up. Cover your eyes with one of your hands and tell them you are going to catch them, with your eyes closed so they must try to run away. When you catch a student ask them a question i.e. a recent grammar point.
This is great for teaching directions and prepositions. Bring up a student and blindfold them. Place an object somewhere else in the room. Get one of the other students to guide them.
Divide the class into teams. Draw a line on one side of the room that students must stay behind. Place a big water bottle or another item that will work about 10 feet away. Students take turns to come up and bowl a big sized ball to knock over the bottle(s). Ask them questions, get them to say vocabulary, spell a word etc in order to gain a turn.
Card heads races
Stand your students on side of the room. Give out flashcards or pieces of paper with vocabulary written on them to balance on students’ heads. Tell them they have to race to the other wall and back 5 times whilst balancing the paper on their head. If (when) it falls on the floor they have to say the word or make a sentence using their word- depending on ability level.
Circle throw and catch eliminator
Write the grammar point on the board and the vocabulary to accompany it. Students form a big circle. Use a tennis ball or another ball of similar size. The first student throws the ball to another student and asks the question. The receiver gives an answer, asks the question and throws the ball to another student. State that if a student does a bad or overly aggressive throw they are out and if they fail to catch the ball from a reasonable throw they are also out. After a while if students are catching well, tell them to put one hand behind their backs then later tell them to speed up etc. Last student standing wins.
Divide the room into four squares. Count down from five, whichever square students are standing in is their square for the duration of the game- they cannot leave it. Give one student a ball. Ask them a question or have them simply shout out vocabulary from the flashcards. If they are right they can throw the ball at any other student (including those in their own square). If the target is hit without them catching the ball they are out. However if they catch the ball, the thrower is out. The game continues until on student is left standing and is therefore the winner.
Get your students in a circle on the floor. Give each one a flashcard. Go around the circle telling them when their card is. Get them to put their fingers in their ears and repeatedly say the word to themselves. Tap on the floor to instruct them to find a corner of the room and keep saying the word for 15-20 seconds then bring them back to the circle, go around and have each student hit their card in turn and say what it is.
Head butt the flashcard
To drill flashcard vocabulary, line your students up facing the front of the class. Start from one side of the room. Shout out and show the card. Hold it above the first students head, have them jump up and head butt the cards whilst saying the word. Go all the way down the line.
Sit down in the middle of the class. Draw a circle around yourself, just big enough to make your students have to reach out their arms to touch your head. Lay out your flash cards. Sit in a straight, still position. Ask the students to come and pick up a flashcard, say the vocabulary and place it onto your head. When a pile starts to build up on your head, dramatise a sneeze or cough and make them start again. When they do manage to pile all of the cards on your head, create drama and excitement by slowly trying to stand up whilst balancing the cards on your head. You can have the students do it in two teams, with a student sat down from group, once you have demonstrated how the activity works.
Have your students stand in a circle with you in the middle. Stick out one of your arms and tell them to duck as you spin your arm around like a helicopter. When a student gets their ‘head sliced off’ they must say the grammar point or vocabulary etc.
Create a race track in your classroom. Bring up a pair from each team to stand at the start line. When you say go one student from each pair gets down in front of their partner on hands and knees whilst the other leaps over the top of them saying a phonic or word. Next the students who were on the floor leap over their partners and the process is repeated until the first pair crosses the finish line.
Pigs in the middle
Split your classroom into three rectangular sections, with the middle sections being slightly bigger than the two outside. Make three groups of students and put one in each section. The middle section group are the ‘pigs’. The aim is for the two outside groups to pass a ball back and forth without the pigs intercepting it. If they do get hold of the ball, the team that threw it switches places with them and becomes the ‘pigs’. Sit on the side and hold up flashcards for them to shout out before their throw or ask them questions.
Choose a student to start as ‘it’ or be ‘it’ yourself. When ‘it’ catches someone he/she asks them a question (this can be their choice or directed by you before the game- in which case write it up on the board). The student being tagged answers the question and chases the other students, repeating the question passing process.
Random head to head
Select a team captain from each team and send the captains outside the room. Whilst they are outside give each student a number to remember. If you have two teams of 10, number Team A 1-10 and Team B 1-10; including the team captains who are unaware of who is what. Bring the captains back in and get them to say a number each. The students who correspond to each number on either team come to the front and face a head to head challenge. This can include answering a question about a grammar point, completing a sentence, spelling a word, answering a quiz question (depending on the ability level and aims of the class).
Split the students into two teams and the board into two sections. Write a sentence made of your grammar point and related vocabulary on either side of the board. This can be two different sentences or the same one twice. Both teams line up facing their allocated section. Give the two front students a pen and an eraser. Tell them that they can change one word in their sentence but they cannot change the same word as the person who went before them, they cannot add or take away any words. When they have finished they pass the pen back to the next student in line. You stand at the side tallying up the points- a point for each time a student changes a word and keeps their sentence grammatically correct. Don’t tell them how to correct a spoiled sentence, have the teams figure it out for themselves.
Sit down game
Get your students stood up in the centre of the class. Go through a random sequence of actions i.e. ‘touch your…’, ‘hop’, clap’, have them shout out words from flashcards, do TPR or anything you want to drill. Be creative. Spontaneously shout out “sit down!” The last student to sit on the floor is eliminated.
Split your students into two teams/groups. Tell them you want them to get into two parallel rows of chairs, facing each other. When they are in position, write a verb, noun or topic on the board (depending on ability level) and give them one minute to talk to each other about the topic or make questions with what is on the board. After one minute tell Team A to stand up and move one place to the right. After each round have the same team move places and the same team stay in their original seat so that students are facing a different person each time.
Write a sentence on the board. Have students race each other to write it 5-10 times then run up to the board, touch it and say the sentence 5-10 times. Give the winner points. Write a different sentence on the board and do it again. It’s amazing how many times your students will be tricked into practicing their spelling and speaking without getting bored of this game!
Stick your flashcards to the board and draw a line 10 feet or more away. Students take turns to stand behind the line, say a sentence involving the one of the flashcards then through the sticky ball at it. If they hit the right card and the ball sticks, give them a point.
Take some sticky labels to your class. Write a noun or a person’s name etc on the labels then stick one to each student either on their forehead or on their back so that they can’t see it. Have them walking around asking each other questions to find out who they are. They can only give each other yes or no answers.
Wall to wall TPR
Get one group standing against one side wall and the others on the opposite side. Shout out the vocabulary (animals is a good topic for this game). Have them do the action whilst racing to the opposite side, trying to avoid the other team coming towards them.
Have 2-4 different coloured balls or different throw able objects. Get the student into a circle. Assign a different question to each ball/object. Have students pass them around and ask the question related to that ball/object. The catcher must answer then throw it to someone else.
Crazy word change
Give the students a topic to discuss in turn when you go around the round. Beforehand, state that every noun, adjective or verb etc is to be replaced by a word such as ‘monkey’. If a student makes a mistake whilst speaking they are eliminated.
In a circle, go around the round, first person says a word i.e. apple. Next person says apple, water. Next says apple, water, chair etc. Students who cannot recall the previous words in the correct order are eliminated.
Solve the idiom
Tell your class a common idiom in English. Have them try to work out when you should use it in conversation, why and how. Explain any complex vocabulary. Let them use a thesaurus if possible.
Students take turns to sit at the front of the class. The rest of them fire quick questions at them for one minute either general or related to the grammar point. Don’t allow any short answers. A point is given for each grammatically correct response. Make a scoreboard and announce the winner as the one with most points earned during their turns.
The sentence game
Go around the class. Each person adds a word onto a sentence. For example, student 1 “You” student 2 “like” student 3 “eating” etc. Write some conjunctives etc on the board to help them make the sentences better. Also add in some recently learnt and new vocabulary.
Give each student a blank piece of paper. Write a sentence on the board such as “I like…” Tell each student to write their name on the paper and fill in the blank word. Split the class into two teams. Collect the papers and shuffle them. Pick the first one up and ask the opposite team of the person whose paper it is “what does… like?” For every wrong guess one team has give the other team a point. Make your sentence specific to the grammar point of the lesson.
Alphabet word race
Have your students race each other to write a word for every letter of the alphabet. You can limit their range by saying it has to be words from a certain place i.e. ‘in this room’.
Teenagers can be reluctant to perform role-plays in front of others. Rather than give them a dry dialogue to read out have them write their own role plays using specified grammar structures and vocabulary. Allow them to be a little bit crazy and creative.
Numbers and questions
Give each student a piece of paper with a number on it. Work through a series of questions, after each one call out a random number and have them answer it. This works well with bigger classes and stops students from falling asleep.
Draw a grid on the board and have random words or phrases in each. Students must try to guess the potential question and win points for their team.
Hold up your hand
When you are doing a grammar point such as much/many (count and uncount nouns), tell the students that you will say a word, if ‘much’ goes with the word they hold up their left arm, if its ‘many’ they hold up their right.
One becomes two
Have students compete in pairs. Give them a piece of paper per pair and short, simple sentence to begin with. Tell them that in turn they can make a new sentence by adding one or two words to the existing sentence and not taking any words out of it. If the sentence is grammatically correct after each turn the student gets a point.
Sentence making time trial
Draw a grid on the board. Fill the boxes with vocabulary that they can use in a relevant sentence to practice a certain grammar point. Pick a student form each team to go head to head. In turn they get one minute to call out as many grammatically correct sentences using the vocabulary in the chosen box.
Guess the flashcard
Turn the pack around so that they are facing you and the students can’t see. Have them shout out guesses as to which card is at the front of the pack and reveal it. Award points for correct guesses
Draw a line down the middle of your classroom, one section is positive response other is negative. Ask the class a question, they run and stand in the section they agree with and shout it out.
Get students to make paper aeroplanes. Get a student from each team to stand at the start line. Get them to perform a drilling task. After doing this they throw their planes and whoever gets theirs the farthest wins.
Basketball clean up
When an activity involving massive amounts of word cards is completed, hold up the rubbish bin and have them come up one by one, say a sentence then throw their waste paper in the bin.
Crazy card grabbing
Get your students to write words on a piece of paper tear them into slips. Get your students to sit in the middle of the room on the floor. Collect all the slips of paper and throw them in the air. Students must try to grab as many cards as possible. When all cards are collected, go around the room and each student must say the word on their slips and pile them up. The winner is the student with the most slips so they get points for their team.
Rather than just doing basic flashcard drilling, tell students to repeat the words in a happy/sad voice, by singing it, using the 4 Chinese tones etc to make it more interesting.
Write a sentence on the board. Erase a word. Go around the room and have each student say the sentence adding a word that could fill in the blank. Erase another and do the same. Continue until you have no words left then see who can remember any parts of the sentence.
Find a vocabulary partner
Have your students make word cards with new vocabulary. Tell them to keep one on their desk and put the others on the floor. When you say ‘go’ they have to go around the class asking questions to determine who has the same card. Eventually they will get into groups.
Finger count grammar
Write out a relevant sentence on the board. Point to the words, on by one, showing a different number of fingers each time you point. Students must say each word a number of time depending on how many fingers you are holding up.
Get a clear, plastic folder. Put a piece of card inside with a small shape, such as a star, cut out of the middle. Place a flashcard into the folder, behind the card so that students can see a tiny section of it. Have them shout out guesses as to which flashcard it is.
Give each student a light-weight plastic cup. Use a desk or a long table and have the teams lined up at either side of it with their cup sitting face up on the edge. When you say go the students begin a relay race whereby they must flip the cup using their fingers to flick it from underneath. The student on the end then has to run to the board and write a sentence which follows a set grammatical structure.
Write 6-8 words on the board. Students from one team write a word from the bored, without showing anyone else and put their writing book face down on the floor. The other team chooses 3 words from the board. If any of the student’s wrote these words they must stand up and say a sentence using the word. The students who didn’t have their word guessed win a point for their team.
Guess my cards
Have your students make word cards. In pairs have them lay out their cards, face down in front of them. The first student points to one of the opponent’s cards and tries to guess what it is. If they are correct the card is turned over. The student who guesses their all of their opponent’s cards first is the winner.
I can say…
Divide students into two teams. The first student from team 1 says ‘I can say 1 kind of…’, the next student from team 2 says ‘I can say 2 kinds of…’. At any point a student can tell the person before them to ‘do it!’. When this is called the person who last made a claim has one minute to say the amount of related they claim to be able to do. If they can do it they win a point for their team, if nto the other team win a point.
Memorising the material
Simply have students close their books and have them recall words and sentences from the text in order to win points for their team.
Write on the board a key word or words. Tell the students to write as many unique sentences as they can in 2 minutes.
Pass the word/sentence
Divide students into two teams. Have them stand in lines. Pass the two front students a flashcard or a piece of paper with a sentence written on it. They have to race each other to say the vocabulary or sentence then pass it back to the end of their line.
Students stand in small groups and form a square or a circle. In turn they place a pencil on the floor in the middle and spin it. The person it is pointing to after the spin must say a grammar point.
Play your cards right
Line up 12 playing cards across the board ledge or on a table face down. Turn over the first card. Have students in two teams answer questions one by one. If they answer correctly they can try to guess whether the next card will be higher or lower than the previous card. If they guess correctly they get a point for their team, if not, the other team get the point.
To drill word or phonic words, get your students to stand up and do a robot action. Each movement is accompanied by a syllable of a word.
Shout me to death
With a phonic or new word, tell your students that if they shout it at you long enough and loud enough you will die. Dramatise it several times and trick them into drilling.
Get students to make word cards with the new vocabulary from the lesson. Tell them to keep one card on their desk and to put the others on the floor. Shout out ‘show me…’, the students who have the word you say must stand up and say it.
Spelling board race
Two teams of students in lines facing the board. Give a pen to the students at the front. Shout out a word. The first student in line writes a letter, passes it to the next student then goes to the back of the line.
Students stand up. Say a word and then go around the room, one student says one letter. When a mistake is made that student must sit down.
Have students put into pairs of one student per team in the pair. Team 1 begins by setting up the puzzle and team 2 have to guess it. The winner gets a point for their team then the roles switch.
Hold a tissue in the air and tell students to say the new word as many times as they can before it lands on the floor.
Get students to do actions and choose one or two students to be photographers. When the photographers get in position to take a student’s picture they have to freeze.
Wheel of fortune
Draw a pizza on the classroom floor with grammatical tasks, spelling task, win a point, lose a point etc written in each section. Students in turn come up and spin a bottle or pencil and whatever it is pointing to they must do.
Send a student form each team out of the room. Write a scrambled word on the board, bring them back in and have them race to solve it.
Cards and forfeits
Write on the board: Ace= lose a point, 2/3/4= grammar point, 5/6/7= spell a word, 8/9/10= say 10 words (from a given category) in 30 seconds, Jack= general knowledge question, Queen= win 3 points, King= win 5 points. In turn students pick a card from the deck.
Flashcard Show down
2 students are back to back holding 1 flashcard each in the centre of the room. The other students say ‘go’ the students both take 3 steps away from each other and then turn around. The 1st child to say the word/grammar structure correctly on the opposing student’s flashcard wins. If the grammar structure is ‘What’s that?’ then the other students can say ‘What’s that?’ rather than ‘go’ and the 2 students will turn and say ‘It’s a……’ and state what is on the flashcard.
Divide students into 2 equal students into teams and get them to form 2 circles either side of the room with their chairs. Students should stand on their chairs. The chairs perimeters now act as 2 large ships. Give 1 team an average size ball made of soft rubber. This team has to answer a question from any of the topics covered in class in order to throw the ball at the other team. If they catch the ball all members are safe and it’s their turn. If they don’t catch the ball they can either nominate a person to stand down or the person who doesn’t catch the ball can stand down. This person then acts as ‘an iceberg’ they should float around in the sea until someone decides to hit them with the ball so they can then join their team. However, in doing this they sacrifice a turn to have this member on their team. The aim of the game is the team with the most people standing on their chair at the end wins.
Counter frustration game
Give each student a counter piece and a sticker to write their name on the counter (to save time you could write their names on stickers/counters before class). On the floor you will make a long line of flashcards, one above the other along the length of the classroom. In line with the end of the flashcards you will draw a finish line and in line with the start of the flashcards you will draw a start line. Then you will join the 2 lines up to make a perimeter for the game to be played in. Students take turns to put their counter on the start line and flick the counter. Whichever flashcard the counter lands in line with the student has to say the word or the grammar structure correctly to keep their counter at that position or if it lands in line with a forfeit card then they do the forfeit (go back to the start or go back 3 flashcards). If the student cannot pronounce/say the word/grammar structure correctly or if they flick their counter out of the perimeters then they move their counter back to the start line where it will wait until their next turn. The student who is 1st to make their counter land on the finish line in their final flick is the winner. This is a fast pace game and lots of fun.
Allocate each student a number between 1-10 (depending on how many students you have and what numbers you have to cover that lesson) give 2 students the same number, 1 on each team. Teacher shouts out a number ‘5’. Then the 2 students who were given the number ‘5’ should stand up and shout ‘5!’, then sit back down. The student who is the slowest out of the 2 or who fails to stand up and say their number at all gives the opposing team a point. This can be played for as long as you want and with as many numbers as you want. You can even give each student 2 numbers to remember each.
Put a selection of flashcards on 2 whiteboards in the room and get 2 students, 1 from each team to stand on 2 marks on the floor that are an equal distance from both boards. Then a student or the teacher shouts out a word/phonic on one of the flashcards on the board and the 1st student to run to the correct flashcard, slap it and say the word correctly wins a point.
Zombie name game
Students form a large circle in the middle of the room. 1 student is in the middle and has to walk and act like a zombie and slowly walk towards another student saying that students name ‘Sally, Sally, Sally, Sally’ before the Zombie reaches Sally and tags her to become the next zombie she must call out another student’s name to avoid it and its then repeated with the next students name and so on.
Draw it race
Students are in 2 lines. Teacher whispers 2 different words to the 1st two children in the line from the flashcards or new vocabulary list. The students should then whisper this word down the line and the person at the back of the line should run to the board behind them and draw a picture of the word they hear. The 1st child to guess what the opposing team have drawn wins a point for their team.
Guess the letter
Get students into 2 lines, 1 behind the other, tell them to pretend to write a letter on the back of the person in front of them with their fingers and they have to guess which letter it is.
Teacher stands at front of class with flashcards. Students are in 2 lines. The two students at the front go first and face away from the teacher…students say ‘1.2.3, go!’ The 2 students quickly turn around and the first child to call out the correct answer wins a point for their team