We’re continuing our series on game types with grammar games. Did you miss the previous posts? Check out Vocabulary Games.
Grammar lessons can be a bit, well, boring. And not only for the students! Teaching grammar can be challenging and, as we all know, if the teacher isn’t into it, the students won’t be either. So how can you spice up your grammar lessons?
Here are some of my favorite grammar games. These are adaptable for different levels, ages, vocabulary sets and classroom arrangements. They can be made more challenging or changed slightly to become a “new game” if students want one. Questions? Comments? Suggestions? Leave a comment below!
And if you’re looking for more tips on improving your grammar teaching, Liz has some great advice!
This works great with a group of young learners. It’s probably best to play in a school or institute; that way you have more control over where the kids go and what they will see. That will make it easier to preteach any vocabulary you anticipate they will need. You could adapt it for a private lesson at home, but it’s probably best to avoid it if you have your lessons in a public place. You’ll see why.
- Divide class into teams of ninjas. Don’t make the teams too big. Four people is probably the maximum size for best results.
- Send the teams to spy on other classrooms (or different rooms or people in their house if you’re using this for a private lesson). Remind your students that ninjas are silent and invisible. If the other class sees them then they lose and must return to class. It might be a good idea to give the other teachers a heads up, just in case.
- When the teams return to the classroom, they say or write sentences about what they saw using that unit’s grammar. For example: They are reading. There was a clock. The teacher talked. The students had started a listening exercise.
- Give points to the teams for each correct sentence about their observations.
To build on this, you could have students write about the experience. Maybe a comic book about ninjas in the school. Or an article about classroom secrets.
This rapid-fire question and answer game gets your classes thinking fast. Or, to be more accurate, they won’t have time to think. This game forces fluency practice in order to succeed. You may have to sacrifice accuracy in the early stages, but if you play a few rounds you’ll see your students answering questions immediately and correctly.
It’s impossible to play this game without getting at least a little competitive. Expect your students to go crazy.
- Split the class into teams and give each team a ball. This works really well in rows. If you’re in a school with desks in a row, create a team for each row. If you’re in a room with the desks in a circle or groups, try to push the desks out of the way and have students stand in rows. You’ll want a small number of big teams for this game.
- Give the first student on each team a ball. Tell them that you will ask them a question and when they answer it they can pass the ball to the teammate behind them. Then ask them a question using the grammar you’ve recently taught. For example: What do you like doing? What are you doing this weekend? What did you eat yesterday?
- The first students answer your question, pass the ball behind them, then ask the second student a question using the same structure. For low levels they can ask the same question, for higher levels require that each question be different, but using the same structure. The second student must give a different answer than the first. Once the second student has answered, they can turn and ask the third student.
- Continue down the line until every student has asked and answered. The final student needs to run to the front of the room and give the ball back to the teacher. The first team to give their ball to the teacher wins.
Here’s a sample dialogue for the game:
Teacher: What do you like doing?
Student 1: I like playing football. What do you like doing?
Student 2: I like watching tv. What do you like doing?
And so on down the line.
Writing is usually a quiet and slow task. Students are given a lot of time to think. They work alone. They finish at different times. They generally think it’s something that could be done for homework rather than using classroom time. (But would they really do it if you assigned it for homework?)
This game changes that. It makes writing fast, fun and loud.
- Split the class into teams. Teams can be any size, but they’ll be writing on the board so make sure there is enough space for each team. Each team selects one student to send to the back of the room. They can choose the order strategically if they want, but every student must take a turn.
- Students close their eyes while you write a jumbled sentence on the board. Something like: meet nice you to it’s.
- Students open their eyes and run from the back of the room to the board. At the board, they write the correct sentence in the space for their team. If they’re not sure, their teammates can help them by shouting out the correct version. But be careful! The other teams might hear and steal answers. The fastest team with the correct answer gets a point.
This is a great way to practice sentence structure and word order. You could also use this game in other ways. Try writing jumbled letters and having students write the correct word. You could also write questions and they need to come up with the answers.
Who Has the Flashcard?
Young learners will like this game. It gets them out of their seats and moving around. Teachers like it too. It’s a good stir activity that incorporates both grammar and vocabulary. And if you’re looking for an outside game to use as a reward, this fits the bill.
- Students stand in a circle with one student in the middle. Very large classes will need more than one circle.
- Give a flashcard to one student in the circle. Play music while the students pass a flashcard around the circle, making sure that the student in the middle can’t see where it is. Encourage the circle students to make dramatic passing actions with or without the flashcard to confuse the student in the middle.
- Stop the music and the passing. The student in the middle must now find the flashcard by asking questions using the unit’s grammar. For example: Do you like running? to find a running flashcard. Have you got a hamster? to find a hamster flashcard. Use your unit as a guide to which flashcards and grammar to use.
- The student in the middle has three chances to find the flashcard. If they find it, they trade places with the student who was holding it. If they don’t find it, they stay in the middle for one more turn.
That’s it for now. Share your ideas below and stay tuned for more posts about games.