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.


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.


Straw Relay Race

This is like the Candy and Spoon Race, but a bit more ridiculous. Rather than balancing a candy on a spoon, the students each have a drinking straw, and need to breathe in to hold a candy or a ping-pong ball onto the straw.

To play with a ping-pong ball, follow the rules for the Candy and Spoon Race. If you’re playing with candies instead, use small candies like m&m’s or small gumballs. Each team has a bowl or cup of candies in its starting place. The first student uses the straw to pick up a candy, then runs the obstacle course and returns to the desk. Instead of giving her candy to the next student (Gross! Germs!) she puts her candy down on the desk, and the next student (using his own straw) picks up a different candy from the cup and runs the race. Dropped candies are (obviously) discarded and the racer must return to the candy bowl to get a new candy.┬áThe first team to successfully carry ten candies through the race and put them on the desk without dropping them is the winner!


Candy and Spoon Relay Race

This is a less-messy version of the classic egg-and-spoon race.

You’ll need at least two spoons per team, and several large round candies – think jawbreakers. For a Halloween party, I’ll be using eyeball jawbreakers or gumballs. I suppose you could use ping pong balls, too.

To play, the first team members take a candy and place it on a spoon. They need to walk/run from one end of the class to the other, walk around an obstacle (a chair or desk, if you’re inside), and return to the starting point, without dropping the candy from the spoon. Then, they have to tip the candy from their spoon to their teammate’s spoon, and the race continues until every member of the team has completed the race. If someone drops a candy, they need to return to their home base to get a new candy, then that person runs their leg of the race again.


If you want to play this game during class without moving all your desks around, I have another version of the game. For this one, only one team is doing the spoon race at a time. The other team is performing some other kind of speed test – reading a passage, answering review questions, etc. After the reading team finishes, record how well the racing team did, then switch roles. Award points for the number of passes completed, and subtract points for dropped candies.


Storming the Castle

Great for a review day or when you have an urge to destroy things! Also popular with kids who want to try Angry Birds in real life, minus the pigs.

Divide your students into small groups, and give each group a fair number of Jenga blocks (or other building blocks, if you have them). Give the class two to three minutes to build castles or other structures out of their blocks.

When everyone’s castle is ready, students take turns answering a review question. Students with correct answers are given a ball (a foam ball the size of a baseball should do), which they can use to throw at another team’s castle. The team with the last castle standing (or mostly standing, depending on your students’ aim) is the winner!

If you want to go all out, you can bring in something to represent the pigs, and make this a real Angry Birds game – the last team to have a surviving pig is the winner.


Hot Potato

The students pass a ball around the room, either in order or randomly from student to student. The teacher can play music, or have the students sing a song, spell words aloud, or chant something (numbers, months, the ABC’s) while the ball is being passed around. When the teacher shouts “STOP!” (or stops the music), the student holding the ball has to answer a question. The game continues as long as the teacher wants it to last – generally less than 5 minutes, as this game gets old fast.

Variation – pass two different-coloured balls around. When the teacher says stop, the student with the red ball asks a question for the student with the blue ball to answer.

Variation for large classes – Divide the class into teams. Each team has their own ball to pass around, and the students holding balls race to answer the question first.

You can also have the students spell a vocabulary word or make a sentence with a vocabulary word, rather than answer a question.


Ball Pass Count

The class is divided into two teams, with an equal number of students on each team. The first team has to perform a skill in English – recite the names of months, answer a question, spell a vocabulary word, read a passage from the story book, or whatever else needs reinforcing. While the first team is doing this, the second team is passing a ball around, calling out the number of times the ball changes hands. When the first team finishes its task, they shout “STOP!” and the second team’s score (how many times they passed the ball) is written on the board. Now the teams switch places, and the first team gets to try to beat the second team’s score.

Note – for short or simple tasks, each student has to do the task individually, but for more complex or time-consuming tasks, the team can do the task together. For example, when they’re reading a paragraph aloud, the whole team can read together, but when answering a question, each student on the team must answer on his or her own.