Back and forth
Divide students into two teams. Get a student form each time 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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
For more advanced classes or one to one lessons, have your students look out of the window and analyse the people outside. Have them discuss anything from what they are wearing and what they look like to creating crazy stories about what they are doing, where they are going etc.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Circle write and pass
Get your students to bring their chairs into a big circle. Write the opening sentence to story on a few pieces of paper then hand them out to random students. Tell them to add one sentence, following a certain tense or topic etc then pass it to the person on their right. Keep the papers passing round for 5-10 minutes then stop the writing and have whoever is holding a paper read out the finished product (usually a crazy and entertaining story).
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
Set a category for the students to follow, for example ‘furniture’. You start by saying “when grandfather died he left a sofa” The student on the far left says “Really, is it a sofa?” You respond “Ok, then what is it?” They then say “It’s a table” The student next to them continues the dialogue with “Really, is it a table?” and so on. If a student takes more than 5 seconds to say a word that hasn’t already been used they are out or if they repeat someone else’s word they are also out.
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.
Put your students in pairs. Write 5 sentences on the board- ‘if your partner was an animal which would he/she be?’, ‘if they were a fruit which would he/she be?’ etc. Have your students write answers to these questions without letting their partner see. Have them also write what they think they would be. When everyone is finished, have them read out in turn and see the shock on your students’ faces. For higher levels, have them make answers such as ‘they would be a… because…’
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’.
Teach the class
To review a series of grammar points, such as tenses, put your students into pairs or small groups and tell them to prepare and present a 5 minute lesson about a particular grammar point. Get them thinking about how to explain it to the class, how to use examples, pictures etc.
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.
To practice the past tenses, have your students write about a dead person’s life. Use funny subjects such as hated national celebrities. You can even go a step further and have them act out a funeral wake.
Give me some words
In order to drill grammar points, divide the board into two or more sections, get groups of students to write a list of nouns in one section, verbs in another and adjectives in another (or whatever you need to build sentences for your grammar point. Have them race each other to write sentences using each word only once. The first to use up all of the words on the board is the winner.
Grammatical board races
Students are in two teams. Have some pens easily accessible. Pick out a student from each team to go head to head. Instruct them that when you shout out a word they must run up and write a sentence using this word. The sentence must follow a pre-set grammatical structure.
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.
Hold up a tissue and tell your students when you drop it they have to say the phonic or new word as many times as they can before it hits the floor.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Truth, truth lie
Tell them to write and/or say 3 things about themselves- two of them are true and one of them is a lie. You do the same and try to guess each other’s lies.
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.