My Favourite Classroom Games Continued: Part Five
My long running series on games for the EFL classroom has reached its fifth issue. In each edition I include a mixture of well known classics as well as my own creations. You can find my previous four articles here.
21. Board Race
Exercise your mind and your body
This is an absolute classroom classic that most EFL teachers are probably familiar with. Students race against each other by running to the whiteboard and writing the answer to your question. The questions can be on any topic or theme, making this an excellent review activity that requires no preparation other than your questions.
First divide the class into teams and set the rules. Students must start behind a set point, write clearly spell their answers correctly and not shout out the answers. Then one student from each team stands behind the starting line. Read out a question and the first person to write the answer on the board wins a point for their team. Students take turns competing until either you run out of questions or a team reaches a target points total.
During a long class it’s important to let your students move around and raise their energy levels. This isn’t always easy to do, so a board race is a fantastic activity to have in your back pocket.
22. Three in a Row
Practise adverbs the fun way
Noughts and crosses is a simple game everyone knows. Make the grid larger, add some adverbs and throw in some mime and you have yourself a very fun activity. Start by modelling the game on the board. Like the original game players take turns to claim squares whilst trying to get a set of squares in a line. In this version however to claim a square you must first mime the action in the square. You can use noughts and crosses or use colours instead.
How to win this game? Instead of the game ending when someone gets three-in-a-row, they simple score one point. Four and five squares in a row score two and three points respectively. Play continues until every square is claimed. This game tends to end in a draw. Once students understand the game divide them into twos and threes and give each group a copy of the grid.
This game can be adapted to use questions instead of miming tasks, but I found it especially effective at teaching adverbs. Because adverbs like ‘slowly’ and ‘quickly’ can be paired with different verbs on the grid, it gives students enough repeated exposure for the ideas to sink in. Modelling the game is a good opportunity to teach the meaning of adverbs while the physical act of miming will help them remember the lesson later on.
23. Blind Pictionary
My favourite game to end a class
This fun and silly game will have your class in stitches. The idea is straight-forward. You think of a word and tell it to one student. They draw the word on the whiteboard while the rest of the class guesses what it is. The twist is that the drawer can’t see what they are drawing. They must sit with their back to the board, drawing over their head. Even simple shapes like a house can go horribly, hilariously wrong.
Younger children will struggle with this, so let them tilt their heads up to look at what they are trying to draw. This also lets them understand why the class is laughing so much at their drawing. This game will let your students relax after a long lesson while still practising the vocabulary from the current topic.
24. Letter Knockout
How many words can your class remember?
This activity was one I frequently used with my young learners before a practise test. It helps them relax and builds confidence whilst you wait for any late comers to arrive. On the board draw some clouds with a topic in each one. For each category choose some vocabulary and write the first letter of each word around the cloud. Students take turns to say the name of one word that fits the clues the board.
You can write the answers on the board as they are said, or just erase letters and topics as they are used up. It’s very satisfying when a whole topic is erased and you finish with a completely empty board. Just take care when you have multiples of the same letter for one topic not to allow repeated answers. I write up the answers for those letters until every copy of that letter has been used and erase them all at the same time. This is easier than having to remember past answers.
To keep it fun, keep the activity fast and flowing. I use a soft bean bag that is thrown from one student to the next as they give their answers. Erasing letters helps here because it’s so quick. In no time you will have an empty whiteboard and your class will be ready for the next challenge.
25. What am I?
The funniest way to practise asking questions.
The best classroom games are often classic games adapted for the classroom. In the original party game ‘Who am I?’ each person has the name of a famous person written on a post-it note stuck to their forehead. You can see who everyone else has on their post-it note, but not your own. The aim of the game is to be the first to guess your name by asking yes/no questions. You might ask if the person is alive, fictional, male, a musician, a film star, etc.
For a high level class the original game makes excellent fluency practise. With the right structure and support, this can be great practise for accurately forming and answering questions for much lower level classes. Before class choose your topic. Instead of famous people the topic could be animals, clothes, food or places. Next think of good questions that you could ask for this topic, that would help someone identify the mystery word.
In class write the questions on the board, with the words in the wrong order. Ask your students to write down the questions rearranged correctly. Since word order is so important when forming questions this is very good practise. For example if your topic is places you could write;
- city? it is in a
- is big? it
- you do can what there?
- there? see what can you
- there? can things you buy
Then model the activity by asking a student to write the name of a place on a post-it note and sticking it on your forehead. Ask students to ask you the questions and see if you can guess the place. When you’re finished modelling put students into pairs or small groups and give each person a post-it note. Make sure they keep the answer secret and that they don’t get post-it notes stuck in their fringe! If students are confident with the questions, ask them to cover up the questions and ask them from memory. This activity is a lot of fun and I’m sure your class will enjoy it.