GenkiEnglish is a Yahoogroup that offers a wide range of possible activities for children of different ages. The archives are public:
There's a brief (somewhat limited) compilation of TEFLChina posts about Teaching Toddlers on this webpage:
Below is a compilation from the now-defunct TESL-L email list. It describes games for many different ages, so many of them will not be appropriate for your friend's class - but some might (and some might be useful for other people, or might be adaptable).
NB: Because it is over 10 years old, I wouldn't count on specific resources (books or URLs) still being available.
Keep on going after you hit the list of URLS because there are more ideas below that (from other people).
This file is from the archives of the TESL-L Electronic Discussion
Forum for teachers of English as a second or foreign language.
THE GAME LIST FOR YOUNG CHILDREN by Louie Liviu Dragut
Why games? Because learning should be fun and the students should be
Level: Young children who have no previous knowledge of English.
Emphasizing speaking and listening. Children absorb in the visual and
physical sense rather rapidly.
1) a) HELLO SONG (Introductions)
Goal: for students to practice the new vocabulary and learn the custom of introducing one self (shaking hands)
The students make two lines facing each other. The tape is played and
the teacher demonstrates.
Hello! Hello! Hello! (Wave to the partner facing you)
What's your name? ( Point to your partner with palm up)
My name is Soo Mi. (Soo Mi point to self)
My name is Hyong Kyong. (Hyon Kyong point to self)
Hello Soo Mi. (Lean forward and shake Soo Mi 's hand)
Hello Hyong Kyong. (Lean forward and shake Hyong Kyong's hand)
Change partner and do it again. The students love this song if it is
demonstrated well and they remember the vocabulary and structures very
b) HELLO, WHO ARE YOU?
Goal: to practice greetings and responses
One member of each team (say, Hearim and Kyongju) goes to the front and faces the board. Pupils in the class, either in some prearranged order in alternation between teams, or as pointed to by the leader of the game, say Hello, Hearim and Kyongju or alternatively, good morning/afternoon.
Hearim and Kyongju have to say who had spoken (e.g. That's Hyonsook) and the first to do so wins a team point. More may be said, e.g. How do you do Hearim and Kyongju? Or, Hello, Hearim and Kyongju how are you?
Possible replies: Very well Hyonsook, how are you?
2) a) DRAW AND GUESS (Who, What, How)
Goal: to review the vocabulary taught in the lesson
Divide the class into 2,3 or 4 teams. A representative from each team
will come to the board. The teacher shows the representatives a picture and they draw it on the board until someone guesses it right and they score a point for their team. The students can only respond in specific structures, e.g. It's a . or that's a I think is a .... This should be kept at a fast pace (about a minute per word). Students enjoy this game but it should not be done for too long (maximum 7-10 minutes).
Goal: to review or preview vocabulary
Draw a 9 square box (as in tic-tac-toe) and ask students to draw a
picture in each box (with the target words). You might like to draw each picture on the board in a random order and the students draw them in their grid. (This is very useful since you can review the words together with the whole class as you go along, and help students with ideas of how to draw them). Then draw then pictures in your box on the board and ask for students to choose a word. Choose the students at random and when they get a bingo (any three in a raw) then they get a team point, a card or a reward. A variation may be to only reward them if they get a bingo before you. This makes it more challenging and covers more vocabulary.
3 a) SIMON SAYS (as described in the handout) (The human body)
b) MIMING AND ROLE-PLAY
Goal: to review body parts and common behaviors
The teacher divides the class into groups and mimes or role-plays a
particular behavior and the students tries to guess. For example: Comb
your hair. In the simplest form the teacher will pretend to comb his/her hair and the first student to say it right scores a point for their group. It can be more advanced where the teacher role-plays a number of unknown actions and only one that the students know. Another way it could be played is to have the students do the miming or role-playing.
Goal: review vocabulary
Teams try to come up with as many words as they can in a category. Get
students to draw as many parts of the body they can name. Simple but
very effective and it encourages students to teach each other if the
teacher will test them at random and give them a group score.
4 a) BLIND OLYMPICS (Location)
Goal: to reinforce direction
Preparation: rearrange the class into an open space
Make two (or more) teams and in each team one person is blindfolded. The students sit at the back of the class and make the class into an obstacle course. Then the students from each group has to give directions to their candidate to reach the finishing line at end of the room. Every time their competitor touches an item in the room they loose a point and if they touch the other competitor they loose two points (or any combination you like). This is a very noisy game but students love it and its very useful in reinforcing directions. (It is ideal for a big class to split them into 4 teams and start at opposite ends of the classroom)
b) HIDE AND FIND THE CUP RELAY GAME
Goal: to practice directions
Preparation: paper cups and something to blindfold half the students
Buy 12 paper cups and number them on the bottom from 1 to 12 - you can
buy more or less, depending on the number of children. Divide the
children into two teams, although, for larger classes you could make
three teams or more. Students on each team are paired off. One student
is blindfolded and the other student becomes the guide. Hide the cups
all over the place but they shouldn't be under anything. Give team one
cups 1-6 to find and team 2 cups 7-12. Children cannot touch or lead
their partners by the hand, they can only give them directions, such as turn right, turn left, go straight, etc. They cannot use their native language, only English to explain where the cup is. When they have found a cup, they must return it to the place that has been chosen by the teacher. I have them stack each cup on top of the cup they have just found. They remain blind folded until they have completed finding and returning the cup to the proper place. Their partners must give them directions on where to put the cup that has been found. As soon as a cup has been found and returned by one pair of students, the next pair goes, etc. The cups must be found and returned in order. The first team to find and return all the cups is the winner. You can play it again if you like..
c) MEMORY GAME
Goal: to review directions and positions
Preparation: 5 to 7 simple pictures with directions e.g. a dog on a table
Students look at about 5-7 pictures with objects in various places (like a pen on a table, a dog under the chair, words that students know well).
After a minute, things are removed or covered. Then students working
individually or in small groups and redraw all the pictures they can
remember. And each student has a picture on a card; the class is one
team, The teacher is the other (they love this!). the teacher says a
word/phrase/description and the person with that card must hold it up.
If only the correct person holds up a card, they get a point; if the
wrong person holds up a card, I get a point. They may confer with each
other before deciding who should hold up a card.
5 a) DO AFTER ME (time, day)
Goal: to review and learn time
Preparation: cards with time for each student
Sit in a large circle. One person begins by entering the circle and says a time and then points to someone else in the circle to succeed him. This person repeats the time, that the preceding person made and then adds her own time. She then chooses the next person. This person need only repeat the preceding time and add one before choosing someone new. The game is over when everyone has had a chance in the circle. (try it, it might work)
b) CHINESE WHISPERS WITH A TWIST
Goal: to practice time and pronunciation
Have 2 teams in a U- shape facing each other: Team A * * Team B
Call 2 representatives, one from each team, to your desk and whisper a time.
Then they go back to their teams and whisper the time into the ear of the first person, who whispers it to the next person, and so on down the line.
The last person writes it down and gives it to the person who whispered it first.
Then the 2 original representatives run to write it on the
board. If the words written on the paper and the board are the same, the fastest team scores a point; however, if it is not correct they have to go back and whisper it again. This forces not only time recognition but good pronunciation, like distinuishing between 15 and 50 or 14 and 40.
The students love this game. (recommended)
6 a) MATCHING EXERCISES (have, has)
Goal: to practice structures/have, has...
Write a substitution table on board. Show students pictures (a pencil, a book, a brown horse, a gray fish etc.). Split the class into 2 groups and one asks and the other answer.
What's this? It's a white/ black/ gray/ brown dog
Is it your book? Yes it is. No it isn't. It's John's book.
b) MAGIC BAG
Goal: to have students ask questions and answer
Preparation: a bag and collect items from the students in the class
(preferably out of their bags without letting them see it so they have to guess)
Before the game collect items from the students' desks or bags and put it in your bag without them seeing what you have taken. Then they have to ask you " Do you have a ." . If they guess correct their team gets a point. After you put all the items on the table one team asks the other. "Is this your ." For every correct response add a point to the team. This is a good game if it is played a good pace.
Goal: to practice have
Preparation: 2 coins for each student
Each student receives 2 pennies/cards. All stand. In turns, students
make true statements beginning with the words "I have a... in my bag" All those who *have* the named object sit down. Optionally, players can use one of their pennies to "buy" the chance to remain standing. Last one standing wins. (So the strategy is to think of things that most people in the room have in their bags, but the player has not.) Object: to be the last one standing
7 a) SCRATCH MY BACK (Numbers)
Goal: to help students recognize and say numbers
The students stand or sit in two lines and the representative of each
group is facing the board. The teacher "scratches" a number on the back of the last student at the back of each line and then they continue to do the same up the person in front who writes in on the board while saying it aloud.
b) CIRCLE THE NUMBER RELAY
Goal: to practice numbers
Various numbers are written clearly and firmly on the board.
They need not be from 1-20 if everyone is already confident using such
numbers. They should be written at the height the learners can reach.
There are two teams and one member from each team stands at the board,
colored chalk in hand (each team has a different color). Someone calls
the numbers and the first to put a ring round the correct one scores a
point for their team. Then replace the 2 representatives and do it again.
Instead of numbers it can be clock times, dates, pictures, telephone
numbers. You can also make this a race game: when the number is
called, the first in each team rushes to the board and circles the number, then hands the chalk to the second person and another number is called.
8 a) MIMING AND ROLE-PLAY (feelings)
(look at 3b)
9 a) HAPPY FAMILIES (family)
Goal: to learn manes of family members
Preparation: sets of cards of family members
There are 36 cards (or as many family members as you like) bearing
pictures of 9 family members, each associated with an occupation. Thus
there is Mr. Cheese the Grocer, Mrs. Cheese, Miss Cheese and Master
Cheese, Mr. Tape the tailor ... (These cards can be bought or made to
suite your class). The cards are dealt face down to everybody in the
group. Each sorts his cards into as many families as possible and puts
complete families face downwards on the table in front of him. Players
ask each other in turn for the cards they need to complete his family.
So they can say, Can I have Mr. Tape please? Yes you can. No you can't. I haven't got it, sorry.
The one with the largest number of families completed at the end of the time is the winner.
10 a) FEEL AND GUESS (food)
Goal: to review vocabulary
Preparation: bring plastic or real food in a bag
The class is divided into teams. A representative from each team comes
to the board and the teacher places a food item in their hands behind
their back. The first person to guess correct scores a point for their
team. Then new representatives come up.
b) SLAP IT
Goal: to recognize words and listen for relevant information
Preparation: a set of 10-15 pictures of different kind of food items for each team of 4 to 6 people
Put the items on a desk and the students sit around the desk. The
teacher describes the food item and when a student thinks they know the answer they slap the card and say the word aloud. If they are right they get a point for their team if they are wrong they are out. Or in each group each student plays for themselves and if they slap the correct picture they keep the card as a point. The person or team with the most cards/points wins.
11 a) WORD RACE (house)
Goal: to review target vocabulary
The teacher says a word like bedroom or kitchen and the students in
groups have to draw as many items related to that word as they can.
After 5 minutes the teacher calls "pencil down" and the students must call out the names of all the pictures they have drawn. The team who can call out the most is the winner.
b) WOLVES AND LAMBS
Goal: to reinforce and review vocabulary
Preparation: 2 or 3 sets of the target vocabulary
The teams or groups sit in circles well apart from each other, and are
visited by 'wolves' from other teams. Each 'wolf" has a list of
pictures/words to be recognized. Anyone who does not know the words has to stand aside as a captive 'lamb'. (The wolf may ask anyone, What's this?) After some time the 'shepherd' (teacher) chases the wolves away and the wolves take the 'captives' back to their groups. The team with the most captives wins.
12 a) CHARADES (school)
Goal: to get students to describe class items
Have a representative of each team come to the board and stand with their backs to the board. Then the teacher puts up or draws a picture on the board behind the representatives. Then the teams take turns describing it to them until one of the representatives guesses it and scores a point for their team. (In the beginning you might like to choose more alert students)
Goal: to practice class and school vocabulary
Draw up the hangman on the board. Then start to draw a picture. Anyone
may guess and fill the picture until the picture is complete. If they
can not guess then they lose, but if they guess they score a point for
c) GUESSING OBJECTS
Goal: review and guess class items
Send two students out of the room for a minute. Have the class decide on an object in the room or in a series of pictures. The students come in and ask: Is it the board? Is it the ceiling? The class answers: No, it isn't the board. or Yes, it is.
In this version of the game the individual students don't need to say very much but they do need to know names of the objects so it's better to select students who have been alert. The class gets to practice the affirmative and negative answers while also repeating the object names. The objects in the room could be labeled so that students have to read as well as talk.
13 a) MUSICAL CHAIRS WITH A TWIST (job)
Goal: to review vocabulary
Preparation: all the chairs arranged in a circle and a tag with the
target vocabulary (i.e. jobs) on each chair
Play the music and the students move around, and when the music stops all go for the chairs. There is a chair for each students except one. Then the IT (person in the middle) can ask anyone sitting down, "Who are you?"
If they know what the tag represents then they remain sitting if not
they must get up and they become IT. This is continued 3 times and then the music is played again. The students like this game and it reviews vocabulary very well.
b) WHO AM I?
Goal to get students to review and guess vocabulary
Say "I'm thinking of a job and you guess what it is." With beginners you can describe way of life, where they work, what they wear, etc., and they have to guess the job. You can decide if you want to score this game or not, and how.
14 a) MAGIC BOX (season, weather, clothes)
Goal: review vocabulary
Preparation: a bag with items that make the target vocabulary
One of the most popular games in my ESL class is when the "magic bag"
comes out. I made a medium sized bag of black fabric with a pull cord
that will close the bag. I place various items in the bag and the
children must guess what is in the bag. We play many variations of this game. Recently, when we were learning the names of clothing items, I put 5 Barbie clothing items in the bag. The children had to feel, but not look inside and go back to their seat and draw the 5 items in the bag. Other times, after they have felt the items, I remove one and they come back and feel and then must guess the item missing. We then compare their answers to what's in the bag. Another variation is one student feels in the bag and must describe but not name the item. The rest of the class then guesses the item.
b) HAVE YOU SEEN MY SHEEP
Goal: to encourage careful description and listening about dress
A circle is formed, but one player, called IT, is outside the circle. He moves round the outside of the circle and taps somebody on the shoulder, asking "Have you seen my sheep (or dog, cat, goat...)?" STUDENT: "Yes I have". IT asks, "What's it wearing?" or "How is it dressed? STUDENT begins to describing someone in the circle e.g. green shirt, brown shoes, long hair... As soon as the one described recognizes themselves, s/he must run round the outside of the circle away from IT. If caught before getting back to his/her place, s/he takes the place of IT.
15 a) GIANT STEPS, ESL Style (May I..?)
Goal: to practice requesting for permission
One person is the teacher and must be addressed as the teacher (Miss...or Mr...) Others in turn request permission to advance using the requested forms. Miss .... may I go to school? The teacher says, " You may take (1,2,3.. giant, baby, jumps ...) Each student must ask permission before moving if they don't and the teacher doesn't give them permission they must go back to the start. (A simple version may be to just say "May I go?" and the teacher will respond, "You may go 1,2,3.. steps").
16 a) WOULD YOU (VARIATION OF SIMON SAYS) (sports)
Just like Simon says, but instead use " Would you" .
OTHER MATERIAL (ideas from other teachers)
- Grammar Games, by Mario Rinvolucri (Cambridge U. Press)
- Index Card Games for ESL, Raymond C. Clark (ProLingua Associates)
RECOMENDED MANY TIMES
- Another place to find GREAT games is from Pro Lingua Associates,
15 Elm St., Brattleboro, VT, 05301, USA
They publish a variety of games and interactive materials.
- Play Games w/ English & Word Games w/ English (Heinemann)
- Grammar Practice Activities, Penny Ur (Cambridge U. Press)
- Keep Talking (communication activities/games), Fredericke Klippel
More broadly communicative activities (some of which are game-like).There are a lot of British teacher resource books (Longmans has a series called Pilgrims, for example,and Cambridge also has teacher
resource books. I'll buy anything by Mario Rinvolucri in their series
which provide a lot of activities.
There is a good book called "I Ate a Purple Cow" that is specifically for children (but not nec. those learning Eng.). I used it when my kids were little. Another one is Look Who's Talking, which is for Eng. learners of many ages.
JET is a magazine for teachers of English as a Foreign Language to young children.
Contact: Mary Glasgow Magazines, Brookhampton Lane, Kineton,
Warwicks, CV35 OJB, U.K.
phone: 44 - 926.640.606
fax: 44 - 926.641.016
Here's a game that I've used with Kindergarten through adult students and they've all loved it. It's similar to Jeopardy but I call it CATEGORIES.
The stationery store sells something called a project display board
(looks like the stuff used for Science Fair Projects). I write
CATEGORIES across the top and then I place 5 X 7" cards 5 across and 6
down for a total of 30 cards. Across the first cards in each column, I
write the word Category and then I number each card with the numbers 10, 20, 30, 40 & 50. I then assign a category to each column (Body Parts, Nouns, Colors, Numbers & Time - for example). Then, I write questions for each category and the students get to choose the category as well as the number of points that they want to try for. I even hide cards say DOUBLE POINT COUNT, TRIPLE POINTS, etc. underneath certain questions. I don't use the JEOPARDY format of having to formulate a question because that's rather tricky for ESL students. I let the NEPS work in teams and even more advanced students - that way, the pressure's off. It's great for vocabulary review, comprehension checks and review. They love it and can't get enough of it. Questions?
CHANTS AND SONGS
I found some great books for chants and songs. I got 90% of my chants
and songs from: Let's sing, Let's chant. Carolyn Graham
(if you are teaching children I highly recommend the investment)
- I have always found the teacher's books of almost any series very useful for new games ideas.
1. any of the Let's Go series publ. by Oxford University American
2. Jamboree publ. by Nelson, written by John Palim and Paul Power
3. Tamborine (as 2 above)
4. Some online resources you can check out. You may try the first one
dave's add-to esl teacher link page
Delta Systems Co.
EFLWEB On-line Magazine
EFL links for EFL researchers
English as a Second Language Home Page
English Language Links The Comenius Group
ESL Virtual Catalog
Foreign Language Teaching Resources
Gavin's Home on the Web
Interesting links for ESL teachers
Interesting TESL/ TEFL Links For Teachers
The International Student Bookshop
ELT Mail Order Catalogue
Internet Resources for Language Teachers
Internet TESL Journal
Lesson Plans & Resources for ESL, Bilingual and Foreign Language Teachers
Linguistic Funland T.E.S.L.
Ohio University CALL Lab
National Clearing House for Bilingual Education (NCBE)
Pro Lingua Bookworld
Resources in Applied Linguistics
SNE Web Links- English as a Second Language
TESL Electronic Journal
TESL SITES ON THE NET
TESL/FL Resource Guide
Useful Lists for TEFL/ TESL ( Part 1) by Kenji Kitao et al
WWW ESL Resources
Date: Sat, 20 Jan 1996
From: Michele Disser <disser@...
Subject: Get Acquainted Games: A Name Game
I don't know if this is a "new" game or not, but I learned it outside of the ESL setting, and found that it was great for breaking tension during a first class -- and for learning names quickly.
Students sit in a circle around a fellow classmate ("it") who stands in the centre with a rolled up newspaper. The teacher begins the game by calling out a student's name. The student whose name is called must then call a different name, before "it" tags him with the newspaper. When someone is tagged, s/he becomes the new "it" -- the old "it" must call a new name before claiming his or her seat.
Once students are familiar with this game, it can also be used for phonology practice by assigning words from discrete pairs (lock/rock, bet/vet) instead of names.
Date: Tue, 4 Feb 1997
From: Jenny Agnew <agnewj@...
Subject: Re: please help
[Christa Caputa asks for help with teaching efl to young Koreans.]
Guessing the approximate age of elementary/kindergarten children to
be 6-10, I would suggest variety to be the key to their learning of
EFL. Vocabulary games like naming animals beginning with each letter
of the alphabe or number games like "FizzBuzz" (say "Fizz" instead of
'three' and multiples of 'three' and "Buzz" for 'five and multiples
of 'five' and "FizzBuzz" for multiples of 'three' and 'five' - for
example, each student in their turn would say: 1, 2, fizz, 4, buzz,
fizz, 7, 8, fizz, buzz, 11, fizz, 13, 14, fizzbuzz, 16, etc....)
This game reinforces the knowledge of numbers, allows interaction
between the children, and keeps them alert especially as they attempt
the higher numbers! I have enjoyed this game in English and French.
It is always a success.
Another useful action game teaches the days of the week and their
order. Set out seven rows of chairs, sufficient for the number of
children. Seat them. Name each row with the names of the days. The
teacher then calls out a day. The children in that row must run to
the front and seat themselves. ALL other rows must find their places
in the scheme of the days of the week. It is very exciting and great
You will no doubt get a great deal of advice. Good luck!
Christchurch, New Zealand (agnewj@...
Date: Thu, 6 Feb 1997
From: Nicolas R Cueto <cueto@...
Subject: Re: please help
Ms Jenny Agnew's imaginative idea - of using a musical-chairs type
action game for teaching the days of the week - got me thinking about
other action type activities, especially ones that are manageable and
fun with a group of 60 or so elementary kids attending a 2-day
beginner-level English camp. Perhaps list members would care to post
their own ideas. And to get the ball rolling, here is a large-group
activity for doingself-introductions in an original way.
Prepare beforehand two small soft objects, one of which ought to make a sound (e.g., a beanbag and a band of cloth with small sleigh-bells
First off, give each student a number and have them gather in groups
(aim for 6-10 per) by that assigned number. Next, draw attention to the objects and example how they can be used to punctuate a
self-introduction, e.g., "Hello. My name is Nicolas. [teacher tosses
beanbag high into the air and, before it lands back down, executes a
double-spin, drops to one knee, and exclaims "Ta-Dahhh!" just as the
bean bag lands into extended and waiting hands]. " Once the class
understands, hand each group a pair of objects.
The catch to this activity is that, moving to the left after the first
person's introduction, the other people in the group must individually perform not only their own self introduction and choreography but also the dance and number of each and everyone that went beforehand (i.e., "Hello, I'm so-and-so...[turn,step, kick] This is so-and-so.., [grind, bump, drop]").
Incidentally, the person who goes first has the enviable task of closing the circle by performing the name and intro of everyone in the group.
Nicolas R Cueto
"Where is indifference found? Dancing with fear." KG Mills, Canada's
Prime Mentor 1997
> I have a Chinese friend teaching for the first time in Cambodia.
> She works at a newly opened Montessori school, teaching Chinese to Cambodian children from 1.5 to 4 years old.
> She cannot speak Cambodian, its emersion English so she has to only speak Chinese.
> She enjoys the 1.5 years old kids, as she just plays with them.
> But the 4 year olds are proving too difficult.
> They should have had previous lessons, but as it's a new school, they are doing lessons for younger children, which they find boring. So they run wild.
> She is supposed to have a Cambodian helper, but the school cannot find a local person who can also speak Chinese.
> I have never taught children so young. Any advice or web pages you would recommend please.