We’re continuing our game series with physical games to get your students moving. Did you miss the previous posts? Check out Pronunciation Games, Vocabulary Games or Grammar Games for more great game ideas!
These games are great for young learners who need some stir activities to keep them interested in class. They’re not just for kids though. Adults can have fun playing these games too as a change of pace. Leave a comment to add your favorite game to the list!
This is a classic game. Many of your students will know it before class. It’s easily adaptable for different levels, too. Obviously, you can change the vocabulary to be more advanced, but you can also have students act out full sentences rather than just single words.
- Teacher acts out a word. This can come from the vocabulary set that you are currently working on, a test prep word list, the emergent vocabulary from lessons, or any other source.
- Students guess what word the teacher is acting out. The student who is first to correctly guess then gets to come to the front of the room and act out a new word.
- Continue this until you’ve filled the time you want to spend on the activity, you’ve finished the vocabulary set or you reach another milestone you’ve decided on.
There is very little academic benefit to this game, but students love it. This is great to use as a reward.
- Select two students and give each of them a flashcard. They must face each other and hold their flashcards behind their backs.
- The students then try to see what the other student’s flashcard is. They will inevitably move around in a circle like sumo wrestlers, hence the name.
- The student who correctly identifies the opponent’s flashcard gets to stay in the game and face a new student.
This is a childhood classic. It can be adapted in many ways for the ESL classroom. Be creative! If you’re learning colors, instruct them which colors to touch. If you’re learning body parts, tell them to touch that body part. If you’re learning animals, tell them to act like that animal.
- Tell students that they have to do what Simon says. If Simon doesn’t say to do it, they don’t. “Simon says clap your hands” = clap your hands. “Clap your hands” = do nothing.
- Tell your students to stand up. Give them instructions alternating between using “Simon says” and leaving it out.
- Students who act correctly remain standing and in the game. Students who make a mistake sit down and become spies who check for students making mistakes.
- The last student standing is the winner and can come to the front to be the new Simon.
This isn’t the hopscotch you grew up with. There is a competitive element to this game.
- Divide class into teams of 5-10 students. Place flashcards in a line on the floor and put one team on each end of the line.
- The first student from each team hops on the flashcards going toward each other. They should try to go as fast as they can, but they can only touch one flashcard at a time and they can’t jump off of it until they say the word.
- When two students meet in the middle, they play rock paper scissors. The winner gets to continue along the flashcard line and the loser goes to the back of his team’s line.
- The first team to get all of their players to the other side of the flashcard line wins.
If you want to add an extra challenge you can have students say a sentence using the word that they’re standing on instead of just saying the word.
This is an easy game with very little preparation needed. This one is probably best for young learners, not many adults will be interested in playing.
- Teacher draws a vertical line down the board and puts flashcards on both sides. You could also write words for older classes.
- Students stand up. Have them stand in a line if that is possible in your room.
- Teacher says a word. If it is on the left side of the line, they jump left. If it is on the right side, they jump right.
- Award points for good jumps, deduct points for bad jumps, do it for fun without an element of competition.
If you don’t have space for jumps you can draw a horizontal line and have students stand up and sit down. You could also ask questions and have the students jump for the answer. Left yes and right no, left animal and right food, etc. There are a lot of possibilities.
This game is deceptive. Students like it because they get to run around and work with friends, but it’s really just a standard worksheet done in a fun way.
- Before class, write questions on pieces of paper. One paper per team with the same questions on each paper. Cut slits in the paper between the questions but leave them attached on one side.
- In class draw people on the board. One person per team. Put the papers on the people so they look like grass skirts. The questions should be facing the board so the students can’t read them.
- Send one student per team to the board to grab one strip off of the skirt. They run it back to their team and the team must work together to answer the question. They write the answer and run it to the teacher. If they are correct, they can take another strip/question. If they are incorrect, they go back to their team and try again.
- Continue until one team has answered all of the questions.
This game can be adapted to fit the needs of your students. Mixed up sentences that need to be put in the correct order work. Reading comprehension questions after a reading activity. Be creative. Really, any type of question will work.
This game uses a lot of space. If your young learners are going crazy, this is a good stir activity to tire them out.
- Students sit in a circle with their hands on their heads. Put flashcards face up in the middle of the circle. If you can play this outside, that would be great. The bigger the circle, the better.
- Teacher says a word and the students race to be the first to that flashcard. If two students tie and touch it at the same time, they can play rock paper scissors to decide the winner.
Have you tried any of these games? Do you have any games to add?