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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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Memory

This is a fun game for reviewing sight words or vocabulary in a younger class, but you can adapt it for older advanced classes as well.

A simple grid, with the solution filled in - this is the teacher's copy. If you're good at drawing, you could use pictures instead of words in a pre-reading class.

A simple grid, with the solution filled in – this is the teacher’s copy. If you’re good at drawing, you could use pictures instead of words in a pre-reading class.

Before class, prepare a chart of vocabulary words, which you won’t show to the students. Each vocab word appears in the chart twice (which means that the chart can’t be 5×5 – there has to be an even number of squares). Draw an empty version of this chart on the board, with just the gridlines showing.

Draw this on the board - this is all the students see.

Draw this on the board – this is all the students see.

Divide the class into two teams. One student from each team comes to the front and does Rock-Paper-Scissors (Paper Scissors Stone, here in Taiwan) to determine who plays first. I make the loser ask the winner a review question as well, before they play. (You could also ask both students a review question, and let the student who answers faster go first.)
The first student chooses two squares. The teacher writes the words into those squares. (Don’t just tell the student the word – make them read it!) If the squares contain the same vocab word, the student’s team earns one point. If the words don’t match, the teacher erases them and no points are given. (Give all students a moment to read and remember the word before erasing.) After the winner plays, the loser gets a turn, too. Continue playing until all the words are matched.

Team A went first and got lucky - their first guess matched. Team B wasn't so lucky - now the teacher erases "horse" and "monkey" and students have to remember what words appeared in which spaces in the grid.

Team A went first and got lucky – their first guess matched. Team B wasn’t so lucky – now the teacher erases “horse” and “monkey” and students have to remember what words appeared in which spaces in the grid.

Extra challenge – the team has to define the word, or use it in a sentence, in order to earn their point for the word.
Advanced version – instead of having two words that are the same, the grid can contain synonyms or antonyms, or words plus definitions.
Basic version – For students who don’t read yet, you can play this game with quick drawings instead of written words – this would work for foods, animals, and colors. You could also use flash cards, stuck facing the board, to play.

An intermediate version, matching opposites instead of exact words.

An intermediate version, matching opposites instead of exact words.

An advanced version, in which students match definitions with vocabulary words. And yes, they have to use it in a sentence to get credit for the word!

An advanced version, in which students match definitions with vocabulary words. And yes, they have to use it in a sentence to get credit for the word!

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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.