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Situation

This is a great short activity for an intermediate to advanced class. I use this as an ice breaker, warm up, or time killer at the end of class.

Before class, have a list of “what would you do if…” questions prepared. For example, “A dog is chasing you – what do/will/would you do?” Phrase the question according to the grammar your students are familiar with – low intermediate students can answer in simple present tense (I run away), upper intermediate in future tense (I will run away), and advanced students in conditional (I would run away). Send two students outside of the classroom, and ask the rest of the class what they’d do in a particular situation. Help them come up with a variety of creative answers that hint at but don’t spell out the situation. Bring the two missing students back in, and have them wander the room asking their classmates “What do/will/would you do?” Using the other students’ answers as clues, the two students race to guess what the situation is.

Some situation ideas include:

  • A dog is chasing you.
  • Your teacher yells at you in front of the whole class.
  • Your mother asks you to cook dinner tonight.
  • You find a wallet on the ground.
  • Your friend gets hit by a car in front of you.
  • You see a classmate steal something.
  • You can’t find your schoolbag.
  • Your friend starts smoking cigarettes.
  • You spill your drink on your clothes as you’re walking to school.
  • You win a ticket to Paris at the same time as your exams.
  • You receive two identical gifts for your birthday.
  • Your parents suggest moving to Russia next year.
  • Your friend’s fly is down and you can see their underwear.
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Last Card

This game is good for reviewing old material, or for a quick warm-up at the beginning of class.

Distribute a whole deck of cards among the students so that each student has at least two cards. On the board, draw a target (I prefer it dartboard-shaped) with the card values on it. Students take turns throwing a sticky ball at the target. When they hit a card value (king, for example) any student holding one of those cards has to stand up and answer a review question. They then return that card to the teacher. If the student throwing the ball hits a card value that’s already been returned, the student throwing the ball answers the question instead. The game ends when there’s only one card value left – the four students holding that card are the winners.

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Make A Question

This is a great game for beginners just learning the grammar of how to ask questions, or for intermediate students to review question-making. Before class, prepare several sets of cards with words on them. I make about one set per four to six students, with twelve cards per set.

  • who
  • what
  • is
  • can
  • Sandy (or someone’s name)
  • holding
  • eating
  • hold
  • eat
  • a
  • hamburger
  • ball

Each team gets a blank sheet of paper and one set of cards. On the board, draw a picture of a person (Sandy, in my case) holding a ball in one hand and a hamburger (with a bite out of it) in the other hand. Give the students an example question – “Is Sandy eating a ball?” and have them make it by rearranging their word cards, and then write it on their paper. Now challenge them to make as many questions as possible from their cards.

In beginner classes, I have each team raise their hands whenever they have a completed question, and I check it for grammar before they write it down. I keep track of how many questions each team has by awarding stars or stickers for each question made.

In intermediate classes, teams write down questions as quickly as possible without consulting me. Then each team reads out their questions to the class, and we discuss whether the grammar is correct so they can earn a point. Other teams can correct any grammar mistakes to “steal” the points for the question. This takes much more time than the beginners’ way, but is more educational, I think.

I’ve also used this game in advanced classes, with more complicated pictures. At that level, the students don’t need any vocabulary cards to rearrange and can make up questions quite well on their own. You’ll get much more creative questions (Why doesn’t Sandy seem to like his hamburger? Does he like ice cream better?) but a lot more grammar mistakes.

Using the twelve word cards above, my students have made at least 20 grammatically correct, logical questions, but there are a lot more if you accept obscure questions such as “Who is eating Sandy?” or “What is a ball?” My best class got 68 unique questions, which I’ll leave as a comment.

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Hot Potato Reading

This is a good game for reviewing old lessons before a test. Make sure you have two different-coloured dice or balls for the students to pass around.

Students read their old lesson aloud while passing the balls around the room. About every ten words or so, the teacher shouts “STOP!” In beginner to low intermediate classes, the two students holding a ball race to answer the teacher’s comprehension question about whatever they just read. In high intermediate or advanced classes, the person holding the pink ball has to ask a comprehension question for the person holding the yellow ball to answer. After they’ve asked and answered questions, continue reading and passing the balls.

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Beginners’ Halloween Party

This is not a game, but a lesson plan idea for a Halloween party for a young (6 to 10 years old) class that doesn’t read or write yet – this could be for kindergarten or elementary school students. The objective is to have a variety of types of games, including opportunities for students to practice what they’ve learned and pick up a few new Halloween-related words. I’m also trying to strike a balance between active games and quieter games. My policy is to keep games short and sweet – in beginners’ classes I don’t spend more than 10 minutes on any activity.

  1. Candy Guessing Game – 10 minutes. Award a prize for the winning guess, and hand out one or two pieces of candy per student. The rest can be used as prizes for games during the party.
  2. Pin the Face on the Pumpkin – 10 minutes. Now the kids are sugared up, give them a chance to giggle and get dizzy.
  3. Halloween Concentration – 10 minutes. Take a minute to slow down with concentration – you may have to teach them the new words for ghosts, owls, bats, and zombies.
  4. Candy and Spoon Race – 10 minutes. Another opportunity to get goofy in a traditional fall carnival game. (Straw Relay Race works just as well, too.)
  5. Halloween Costume Fashion Show – 10 minutes. Let the students show off their costumes in front of the class. Award prizes for the funniest, cutest, and best costumes. (I put this toward the end of the program so there won’t be upset kids all class if they lose.)
  6. Trick-Or-Treating – 10 minutes. Students knock on the doors of other classrooms asking for candy!

If you have spare time or need to replace a game, Witch Hat Ring Toss and Monster Golf are good active filler games. If your class is going crazy and you need to calm them down, have a dozen copies of an “I Spy”-type find-a-picture game on hand to dampen their spirits without ruining all the fun – they can work in groups to find the items you name, and be awarded prizes for finding them quickly.

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Monster Mini Golf

Make a cardboard cutout of a monster (or other Halloween-appropriate shape) with the open mouth on the floor. You’ll also need ping-pong balls and a squeaky hammer (or rubber chicken, if you swing that way!).

Divide the class into teams. After each student answers a skill-testing question, let them use the squeaky hammer or rubber chicken to try to hit the ping pong ball into the monster’s mouth. Keep a tally of team points – one point per hit – and the team with the lowest score at the end of class is the winner.

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Witch Hat Ring Toss

Stuff a witch’s hat with newspaper to keep it standing tall. You’ll also need some rings – dollar stores and bookstores sell large rings that would work, or check out toy stores as well.

Have each student answer a skill-testing question before throwing three to five rings at the witch’s hat. Award candy or stickers for each successful throw!