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Games & Activities for ESL kids

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Reading Games for ESL Kids

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Bang!Materials: Small piece of paper, shoe box or coffee can. Write words on pieces of paper and fold them in half (sight words, vocab, blends etc.). Also add a few cards that say "BANG!". Ss take turns picking cards and if they read the word correctly they get to keep the word. If they draw a BANG! card they yell BANG! and then return all their cards (except the BANG! card) to the can/box. Very simple but the kids love it and there are many variations for the game! (Submitted by Heather Gilbert).

Label It

LabelsThis works well with newcomers of all ages who need an introduction to basic vocabulary. As long as the learners are able to identify beginning letter sounds, they should be able to do this activity.  To familiarize my students with names of objects found in the classroom, I label everything with an index card that has the item's name on it. Then I have them repeat what I read as they point to the item. The next day, I remove the cards and go through them one at a time and we place them on the correct item together. The third day, I let them label whatever they can on their own. I continue this for a few days. When they are able to independently label most of the items, I surprise them by having them labeled incorrectly. Then they have to straighten out the mess.  You can adapt this to any noun-based vocabulary list (e.g. types of foods, body parts, parts of a room in a house, animals, etc.).  (submitted by KMMP).

Reading Board Scramble

ElephantThis activity encourages students to read words or short phrases quickly. T writes words or phrases on the blackboard in a scramble here and there, but low enough that the Ss can reach. Examples include "elephant", "I love chocolate", "My sister's name is Mary", etc. Have two teams and call out a word / phrase. The person that is able to find and circle it first wins a point for their team. Even more challenging- have four teams all looking for the same word. The kids just love it. (Submitted by Susie).

Rhythmic Reading

DrumThis activity is fast-paced and lively, and improves Ss' word recognition, speed, and confidence in reading. Choose a reading passage (one page if using a basic text, maybe one paragraph if using a more advanced one). Start a rhythm (clapping or tapping on your desk). Choose one student to start. Each student must read one sentence (or word, if you want), exactly on the beat and pronounced correctly. Immediately after the first student finishes, the next one starts with the next sentence, and so on. If someone misses a beat or stumbles over words, they lose a 'life' or they are 'out'. If you use the 'out' method, it isn't so bad, because the 'out' students help to keep the beat and follow along. In my experience, all students, whether 'out' or not, have focused intently on the reading - waiting like hawks to hear someone's mistake. Of course you can vary the tempo, making it much easier or much harder. This can also be played as a team game (which team can make it to the end of the passage, on beat, with no stumbles or mispronunciations?). Good luck!  (Submitted by Melanie Mitchell).

Tic Tac Toe Read

Tic Tac Toe ReadDraw a basic tic tac toe board on the white board with new vocabulary in each block. One S from each team is called up and must draw the picture of a word underneath. The team with three in a row wins.  (submitted by Shawn).

Word Recognition Game

WhisperWrite some words the Ss have learned in previous lessons on some cards (postcards are ideal).  Have all the Ss stand at one end of the room and the T in the middle.  Hold up one card and Ss come forward and whisper the word in the T's ear.  If correct they can go over to the other side of the room.  Ss can have as many guesses as possible.


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