Resources and materials for ESL Kids teachers

BoardBacks to the Board Game. This one is good for higher level kids. Make two teams and stand one student from each team in front of the board, facing away from it. Write a word or draw a picture on the board (e.g. "hamburger") and the students have to explain that word to their team member (e.g. you can buy it in McDonalds, it's got cheese and ketchup in it). The first student out of the two standing in front of the board to guess the word wins a point for his/her team.

BadmintonBadminton. Good for reviewing target vocabulary (words or communicative expressions). Set a "court" in the classroom by placing a skip-rope tied up to two chairs. Make two small teams (the other students can be the crowd and or challengers). Give each student a flyswatter ("Racket"). Inflate a balloon (this will be the ball). Remember: the younger the students, the bigger the balloon must be (slower). Decide who serves and for every winning shot the team to call out the flashcard or picture card shown by the teacher to get a point. Lots of fun! (NOTE: For very active be careful since they might hit the others' faces when playing). (submitted by Salvador Domingo)

Banana raceBanana Race. Children just love this! It is basically a QUIZ game in which you ask children questions (Target Vocabulary) like: "What's this? What fruit is red and round? How many chairs are there in the classroom?" or the teacher simply draws items on the board, makes animal noises so that they guess. You can work with or split the class into small groups/teams if you have a large class. The teacher draws on the board a race track and each team or student will be a BANANA waiting at the Starting Line. They will approach the Goal line as they answer each question. Each right answer equals a step towards the Goal Line. The BANANA who arrives there first, WINS! (Submitted by Salvador Domingo).

BasketballBasketball Card Line-Up. Place 2 lines of several flashcards.  You need 2 players and a basket far away.  To shoot the basket from far away is hard so the players need to say the card and make their way closer and closer each turn.  When they feel that they can throw and hit the basket, they make their attempt. Each successful shot scores a point for their team.

Bean bagsBean Bag Toss. Lay out flashcards face down up the floor.  Students toss a bean bag onto a card and identify the flashcard it lands on.  If they say the card correctly they keep the card but if incorrect the card remains on the floor. When all the cards have gone count who has the most cards to see who the winner is. (Submitted by Betty).

BlindfoldBlind Toss. Have students sit down in a circle. Place a mat on the floor with numbers and a flashcard (target vocabulary) on each number. Taking turns, each student gets blindfolded and tosses a beanbag so as to hit a number. S/he must call out that word the same number of times as the number indicates. For example: 4-dog, then "Dog, Dog, Dog, Dog! and the student gets the equal points (4). At the end, the student with the most points wins! Good for memorizing vocabulary since they are repeating words. (Submitted by Salvador Domingo).

BlindfoldBlindfold Guess. Blindfold a student and give him/her an object to feel. The student must guess what the object is just by feeling its shape. This works well with plastic food and plastic animals as they are a little challenging to guess (I always throw in a toy plastic dinosaur to spice things up!). Make sure students use the structure "Is it a/an ...?".

BottleCategory Spin. Sit students in a circle.  Spin a bottle or an arrow - the student that the arrow points to is first.  The student needs to say a word from a pre-decided category.  The next student will say last word plus his own and so on until it gets to the one who fails.  For example: S1:"zebra", S2: "zebra cat", S3: "zebra cat dog".

CheeseCategory Tag. Choose a category (e.g. food, weather, transportation, etc.).  Students run around the room and the teacher chases them.  When the teacher tags a student s/he must name a word from the category (e.g. food: cheese, fish, bread, etc.).  Give a time limit to answer (e.g. 5 seconds).  If the student cannot answer or says a word that has already been used s/he sits out until the next round.

WhisperCharades. Have a student come to the front of the class and show a flashcard or whisper a word to that student.  The student then acts out that word and the first student to guess can be the next player.  This works very well with action verbs.  Variation: divide the class up into teams - the first student to guess wins a point for his/her team.

Dog and cat chaseDog & Cat Chase. Have students sit in a circle.  The teacher walks around the outside of the circle patting the on the head saying "dog" each time.  Suddenly, teacher says "cat" as s/he touches a student's head and then that student must chase the teacher around the circle.  The teacher must try to sit in the student's spot before being tagged by the chasing student.  If the teacher is tagged s/he must touch the heads again.  If teacher makes it back without being touched then the chasing student walks around the circle touching heads.  This can be done with any variation of pair words (e.g. big & small, happy & sad, can, can't, etc.).

DiceDraw and Roll. Split class into 2 teams. The teacher says "Draw a ______" and students should draw that vocabulary word. If the drawing is correct then the student rolls a dice for points. This game can be played 2 ways: The fastest person to draw the picture rolls the dice. Or the other way is to allow any student to roll the dice as long as the picture is recognizable and correct. I made my dice out of a box from the 100 Yen store.  (Submitted by Tania Bibbo).

Pastic fruitGive Me Game. You can use objects or flashcards.  This works well with plastic fruit: Gather and elicit the different kinds of plastic fruit you have.  Then throw all the fruit around the classroom (it's fun just to throw the whole lot in the air and watch the chaos of the students scrabbling to pick them up).  Once the students have collected the fruit (they'll probably do their best to hide it in their pockets, etc.) teacher says "Give me an apple".  The student with the apple should approach the teacher and hand him/her the fruit "Here you are".  Avoid having the fruit thrown back to you as they can go anywhere and takes a long time to finish this game.

HangmanHangman. The old favorite.  Very good for reviewing vocab from past lessons. You can play this game either with all students playing against each other (for points) or as a team game. You can also have students play in pairs - give the class a category, such as food, and each pair plays hangman together deciding on the words themselves.

I spyI spy. Teacher says "I spy with my little eye something that begins with B". Students try to guess the object (e.g. "book").  Colors are a good alternative for younger ("... my little eye something that is red").

Label ItLabel It. This 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).

JumpLine True or False. Put a line of tape or a length of rope on the floor and designate one side "True" and the other "False".  Hold up an object or flashcard and say its word.  If students think that you have said the correct word they jump on to the True side, if not they jump on to the False side.  Incorrect students sit out until the next game.

CakeOdd-One-Out. Write three or four words on the board.  Students must circle the odd-one-out (e.g. cat - horse - cake - bird). You can even encourage students to come up with their own odd-one-out words to write on the board - this works well in teams. Make sure you give each team a couple of minutes to think up their words before inviting them up to the board to write them down.

FlashcardsPass. Sit the students with you in a circle.  The teacher holds up an object or flashcard and says its name (e.g. "Pen").  The teacher then passes it on to the next student who also says its name and passes it on to the next student.  Variations: change directions, speed rounds, have many objects going round at the same time.

PictionaryPictionary. This is a good activity for reviewing vocab.  Pick a student and show him/her a picture or whisper a word into his/her ear.  The student draws the picture on the board and the first student to guess what the picture is can come up to the board to draw the next picture.  This can also be played in teams with a point system.

RopeRope Jump. You need a rope for this one!  Have students stand behind each other in a line.  Hold a rope (have a student hold the other end) at a height that the should be able to jump over.  On the other side of the rope spread out some objects or flashcards and a box.  Call out the name of one of the objects/flashcards to the first student.  S/he has to jump over the rope, pick up the correct object and put it in the box.  For other rounds you can hold the rope down low, so have to crawl/roll under.

PencilsSlam. Sit the students in a circle and place some objects or flashcards in the middle of the circle.  Tell students to put their hands on their heads.  The teacher shouts out the word of one of the objects and the race to touch it.  The student who touches it first get to keep the object.  The student who has the most objects at the end of the game is the winner. This works well with plastic fruit and stationery.

SnowballSnowballs. The teacher or the students draw on the board items related to the target lesson (fruits, animals, veggies, etc.)  Make two teams.  One student from each team gets a wet tissue ("Snow ball") and stands up. The rest of the class picks a card which can not be seen by the two standing, who will throw their "snow ball" as they hear the other call an item out (e.g.: "Apple!").  The team whose participant hits closer to the item called out, gets a point.  (Submitted by Salvador)

Egg timerTime Bomb. Tell the students a topic and give an egg timer to pass around the class (set to 1 minute).  Each student has to say a word in that topic (e.g. food: apple, cake, hotdog, carrot, bread, etc.) as the timer is passed before the time runs out. When the timer goes off the student left holding it loses. (submitted by Ben).

TouchTouch. Have students run around the classroom touching things that teacher orders them to do (e.g. "Touch the table" "Touch a chair" "Touch your bag").  Colors work well for this, as students can touch anything of that color (e.g. "Touch something green").

Letter blocksUnscramble. Write a word on the board that has all its letters mixed up (e.g. "lrocsmaos" = "classroom").  Students have to unscramble the word and shout out the answer to win a point.  This works well in a team game.  Variation: use letter blocks / letter shapes instead of writing on the board - students then rearrange the letters/blocks to spell out the correct word.

Close eyesVanishing Objects Game. Place a number of objects in front of the students.  Give them a few moments to memorize the objects and then tell them to close their eyes.  Take away one of the objects and then tell the students to open their eyes again.  The first student to guess the missing object can win that object (for 1 point) and take away an object in the next round.

BasketballVocab Basketball. Students take a shot at the trash can/box/etc. Prepare some flashcards before hand basd on the lesson theme. First show a flashcard to S1 (E.g. If you are teaching emotions, show the "happy" flashcard). If s/he answers correctly then s/he can take a shot at the basket. If the student gets the ball in the basket then s/he wins 2 points. If the student hits the basket without going inside then s/he wins 1 point. The person who gets the most points is the winner. This can also be played in teams.

BoardVocab Board Scramble. The teacher writes review vocab on the blackboard in a scramble here and there, but low enough that the students can reach. Have two teams and call out a word. 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).

RunVocab Board Draw Relay. Make 2 teams and line them up as far away from the board as possible.  Call out a word to the first members of each team, and they have to run to the board, draw the picture and run back to his/her next teammate.  The process is repeated for each student and the team that finishes first is the winner.  Variation: Teacher whispers the words.  The student can only run back to his/her team when his teammates guess what the picture is.

WindowWindow Game. You can only do this if your classroom has a window that you can stand outside of and look into the classroom (don't try this on the 10th floor!).  Model first: stand the students in front of the window and go out of the room.  Wave to them through the window and silently mouth some words (so it seems like they can't hear you through the glass).  Look at a flashcard and then mouth the word a few times.  Go back in and the student who first tells you the word you were saying can have a turn.

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