My Favourite Classroom Games Continued: Part Three
It’s time for more activities I use to liven up my classes. You can find previous (and future) articles in the series here.
11. Spelling Race
Find the letters and make the word
This is a team game and you need a set of alphabet cards for each team. A basic set of 26 cards from A to Z is great, but it is very helpful to have duplicates of frequently used letters to widen the range of words you can spell. It takes a little time to create these sets, but if laminated they can be used over and over again with a variety of levels.
The aim of the game is to spell a word as fast as possible. You can give the word as a picture or as a clue. Your students have to race through the cards to find the letters and put them in the right order. Team work is very important as groups that work together will get a big advantage.
12. Pass the Flashcard
A way of drilling vocabulary that descends into funny chaos.
I always like to find ways to put a twist on drilling. In this version the students stand in a circle. You start at one end and pass a flashcard to the first student whilst saying the word. They say the word and pass the flash card to the next student. You can then pass on the next flashcard and get a chain of flashcards going around the circle. After a few flashcards have made it all the way round, start to pass flashcards from both ends of the circles. Pandemonium will follow as students start getting flashcards coming at them from every direction.
13. Mingle Question Swap
A great icebreaker activity for large classes
For a first lesson I like to have every student talk to every other student. I find it really helps banish those first lesson nerves. As a bonus it takes very little preparation. You just need to create some getting-to-know-each-other-questions. Every student is given a question and asked to find a partner. They ask, and answer, each other their questions, swap questions and then change partner. This means they always have a new question and a new partner.
Once started this activity will generally run itself. You may need to help students find new partners, especially in classrooms with little space. It is important that the students really mix, to make sure they aren’t getting the same questions over and over. You can take part yourself which is a sneaky way to introduce fresh questions into the group. It is usually clear when to draw things to a close, as students run out of new people to talk to and the questions start to repeat themselves. The larger the class, the longer this will take.
14. Information Gap Crossword
Can you describe the answers?
This gets your students recycling vocabulary and provides good fluency practise. Crosswords in general can also help focus students on their spelling. Information gap crosswords are created as a pair of crosswords. The grid is the same for both, and each has half the answers filled in. I use armouredpenguin.com to make my crosswords. By default it makes ordinary crosswords so select the option for information gaps.
Students work in pairs to complete their crosswords. Students have to ask their partner for the words missing on their crossword. The partner then describes the answer. This activity can take a little time to explain, so I recommend drawing a miniature pair of crosswords on the board and working through them. I also suggest teaching a question like “What is number 5 across?”
15. Banana Gap Fill
Bananas are the funniest fruit.
This is a classic way to add a splash of fun to gap fills. Students read the gap fill, replacing the missing words with the word banana. It usually makes any passage into a slightly surreal text.
This activity encourages students to read the whole text before thinking about the answers and gives you a chance to check the meaning of any new words. In small classes you can do this as a whole class activity, giving each student one sentence each. Once a class is used to this activity you can replace bananas with a general topic like sports or animals. You ask students to think of a new word for each gap, making it a gentle vocabulary game as well. Children always enjoy showing off their vocabulary.