Games 2

Games for the Classroom

Speaking & Listening Skills 2



Another good letters-based game. It’s good because students can get up and lead this one just as well as the teacher. It’s also good because it’s quick and can pull students together for a quick bit of group work just before going home. Think of a word or phrase and draw a number of dashes on the board that corresponds to the number of letters. The other students suggest one letter at a time. If they are correct you have to fill in the letter on the board in its correct place. If they are incorrect you draw part of the hangman shape. Students can take a guess if they know the word. The person who guesses correctly steps up to the board to think of a word for the next session.

What Time Is It On…?

A good one for testing telling the time, and as a general reading comprehension using realia. Select a page from the Radio Times, or any English language TV guide and photocopy it so that each student can have a copy. Split the group into two teams and ask them questions based on the programme information given in the TV guide. For example, you could ask, “What time is ‘The A-Team’ on?”, and “What time does ‘The A-Team’ finish?”, before moving on to more complex reading comprehension questions such as, “What is the name of the actor who plays ‘Mr.T’ in ‘The A-Team’?” Get the students to nominate a ‘runner’ from their team who runs and writes the answers on the board. You can even get them drawing clock faces as an answer, or writing the answer using the twenty four hour clock. Note: questions need not be ‘A-Team’-based!

Board Game Boffins

As a project, get the students working in pairs or small groups to design a new board game. They have to form a games ‘company’, and then plan the concept and design of their game. After that they have to actually make a working prototype, which they test out, and which is then tested along with all the other ideas in a games tournament. Each company has to explain the reasons behind the design choices that they made in constructing their game. The students then all vote for their favourite games in categories such as: ‘Most playable game’, ‘Game most likely to make a $million’, ‘Best design and construction’, and so on. You could use the board game template on page 73 as a starting point.

Ten Things

Get your students to leave the building and go out in small groups or pairs with the task of writing down ‘Ten things you can see at…’ various places near to your school or college. For example, they could write down ten things you can see at… the leisure centre, the shopping centre, the sports stadium, the post office, the doctor’s, the bus station, the railway station, the market, the funfair, and so on. Ask them to make sure that their spellings are correct before coming back to you with their list(s). Of course you could always make it ‘Fifty things you can see at…’ if your group are particularly gifted – or if you just want to get rid of them for the whole morning…! When they come back, discuss together what each group has found.

What Shops Sell What…?

This is a similar exercise to ‘Ten Things’, in that the students leave the classroom in pairs or small groups and go around town for a couple of hours. They have to write down the proper names of as many shops as they can, along with a brief description of what you can buy at that shop. For example, ‘Marks and Spencer – clothes and food’, ‘Debenhams – clothes, gifts, and perfume’, until they have a list of around twenty shops. When the students get back they could write sentences about the shops, for example, ‘At Marks and Spencer you can buy clothes and food.’ It motivates students to go into and look around shops that they may walk past every day but have never visited. You could always set the list of shops for your students to visit, ensuring a variety of types. Of course, it gives an opportunity to practise shopping vocab wherever you happen to be teaching.

Vocabulary Building

Name And Explain

This is a good game for practising spelling classroom words and getting students to talk about their immediate environment. Split the class into two groups and give each group a pack of sticky labels. Their task is to write labels and stick them on twenty different things in the classroom. Spellings must be correct, and at the end of the game students must give you a tour of their labelled items, explaining what each object is.

What Is It…?

Get the class into two teams. Take one student from each class out of the room, give them both a whiteboard pen (or chalk stick, or marker, etc.) and give them the name of a book, TV show (for example ‘The A-Team’), film, or famous person. They have to run back into the room and draw clues on the board, while the other students try to guess the name that they have been given. They are not allowed to write any words. Students love this game, and it gets rather loud as the students get more involved. Make sure your students are aware of the cultural references that you want to give them. The game can be played just as well using vocab sets such as, furniture, food, animals, and so on.

What Am I…?

For this game you will need to put a sticker on the back of each student, with a noun written on it, for example, apple, chair, Wednesday, bathroom, or bottle of tomato ketchup. The students have to mingle with one another and ask questions to find out ‘What am I…?’ Students can only reply with either ‘Yes’ or ‘No’. Once they have found out what they are, they report to you and tell you what they are and what questions they had to ask in order to work it out. They could then go and write down the different questions. This also works when you use celebrity names instead of nouns – as long as all the students are aware of exactly who all the celebrities are. You could also use specific vocab sets such as countries (‘Am I north of the equator, or south?’), or clothes (‘Am I worn on the head?’) The sky’s the limit! Good for question forms and to get students talking.

Grammar Skills

A Capital Game

Write a load of nouns on the board, both common nouns and proper nouns, but don’t use capital letters. Vary the list of words to suit the level of your group, so for an elementary class you could write something like: ‘table, usa, book, house, garden, england, philip, the times, shirt, ice cream…’ and so on. The students split into two groups and compete to be the first to write the list of words again, but this time putting capital letters on the proper nouns (in this example, ‘USA, England, Philip, The Times’).

Interesting Articles

Similar to ‘A Capital Game’, this involves writing plenty of different nouns on the board and getting the class – in two teams – to discuss and write down whether there should be ‘a’ or ‘an’ before each word. This is a quick and easy game – intended for elementary students really – that allows the students to identify and practise the grammar rule for indefinite articles. Make sure you throw a few proper nouns into the mix too, just to confuse them!

The Instant Story Generator

The whole group sits in a circle and decides on a few story keywords, for example, a place, a man’s name, a woman’s name, an object, and so on. Tell the students they are going to tell a story as a group. Each student can only contribute one word at a time, before the story moves on to the next person. If the story reaches a natural break the student whose turn it is next can say ‘full stop’ instead of carrying on. The story must include all the keywords that were agreed at the beginning. This is a great game for identifying sentence structure and bringing out grammar points, as well as letting the imagination run riot. A variation is to let each student contribute one sentence instead of just one word.

Action Games

Balloon Rodins

Split the class into small groups and give each one a large quantity of balloons and a roll of sticky tape. Their task is to create a fantastic balloon sculpture, which outshines those made by the other teams. After forty-five minutes or so the groups come together and look at all the sculptures. Each team has to describe what their sculpture represents – and is invited to elaborate on the principles of art that they have been influenced by… or not, as the case may be! Prepare yourselves for some ‘explosive’ balloon fun in this hilarious team-building and communicative activity! Note: this activity works just as well with modelling clay, or lots of old newspapers, instead of balloons.

Dead Heat

The class needs to be in groups of around eight people. Lay out a finish line at one end of the classroom with no desks or chairs in the way. The students stand in a line, as if about to start a race. On your signal they either run or walk towards the finishing line. However, all the students must cross the line at exactly the same time. A fun and energetic warmer which encourages students to talk to each other – particularly when they keep getting it wrong. Give your teams several attempts at this and they should get it in the end.

Get A Move On

Split the class into two teams. Set a starting line and a finishing line. This is basically a slowwalking race, where both teams are competing to be the last to cross the finishing line. The only proviso is that everyone in the race must keep moving forward – just very slowly. It’s also good fun played with individuals in heats, building up to quarter-finals, semi-finals and a grand final. A fun team-building activity that will bring out the team spirit in your group.



Action Race:

This is a fun game using actions. Use actions like jump, hop, clap, run etc. Havethe Ss split into two teams and sit in lines with a chair by each team and one chair at the otherend of the room. One S from each team stands next to their chair and T calls an action, e.g.”Jump”. Ss must jump to the chair on the other side of the room and back, sitting down in theirchair Ss say “I can jump”. First one to do it gets their team a point. (Submitted by GarethThomas).

Airplane competition:

First, have your Ss make some paper airplanes. Stand the Ss in a lineand let them test fly their planes. For the competition, assign different classroom objects points(e.g. table 5 points, door 10 points, trashcan 20 points). Ask a S a question and if s/he answers correctly then s/he can throw and try to hit one of the target objects to win points. This works well as a team game.


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