5 games for students ACTIVE involvement.

5 super active and awesome games to play in your class.

Last time I introduced you to the first part of the move and prove theory of ESL student participation, with Total Physical Response. today i will introduce the importance of competition in the classroom, the prove part of our classroom theory.

What does ‘prove’ in ‘move and prove’ stand for?

In ESL learning, especially with children, using competition and games can help your students to remember key vocabulary easily in a fun and memorable way

A great way to facilitate class involvement is by using games as a way to get kids actively participating in class. There is nothing like a game to get kids shouting out words and sentences to make you feel like you are reaching those learning goals!

some examples of games I have used and adapted for ESL are ‘go fish, kings (yes the drinking game!) and poison ball. (This has another name in America, but basically you have someone throw the ball at people, if it touches you you are frozen until someone rescues you by performing a forfeit of some kind.)

In the ESL classroom almost any games from your childhood can be modified into a game suitable for ESL.

Here I have five old school games that can be changed into ESL friendly games to help reach your lesson objectives. Have a try with some of these in your next class and let me know how you go!

1. Go fish.
Make or print a collection of picture card pairs of the key vocabulary, for older kids just write the words is on the cards. Give each kid five cards and get them to randomly select another student to be their first partner. Each pair will “paper, scissors, rock” to see who is first to ask the key question. The winner asks the other student “do you have (vocab word)?” or “I like (vocab word)” if that’s too difficult just get them to say the word. The point of the game is, if their opponent has that card they have to hand that card to the asking person, who then makes a pair. the loser can then ask the other person for a card in the same style.

After that, they search for another partner in the room to repeat the process again. The student with the most sets of cards at the end of the game is the winner. The benefit of this game is that all the kids are talking and standing up talking. Adding time and competition makes this more difficult and fun.

2. Kings cup.
Kings cup can be really fun for an older kids speaking class, just use a deck of cards and a cup filled with questions, topics or grammar points inside it.
place the cards in a circle face down surrounding the cup with the topics, words, or sentences inside. You can make up different rules for each of the cards. You could, for example, if you pull a king, queen or jack card you must take a piece of paper from the cup and answer the question.

The other cards you can name your forfeits. e.g. pull an Ace you have to dance like a chicken…pull a two you should sing a small song. Choosing the forfeits together before the game is also fun and a good way to get kids to talk too. The more active the forfeits the better. With younger kids you can add team points for the smaller cards and Big points or specialty things to the cup, like all team members get a candy, or the other team loses all points etc.

3. Poison “ball”
This activity is great if you have a big classroom to play in.
Take a soft item like a stress ball or even a soft toy and have kids move around in a circle. Throw the soft object at the students AND if it hits one of them then they are frozen to the spot. If the other students want to help their frozen team members they need to pick up a flashcard from near the teacher and then run around a frozen person three times saying the word on the card. If you have a helper teacher in the classroom one of you can be throwing the soft thing, the other can be facilitating question/ answer replies.

4. Musical chairs flashcard style.                                                                                    If you have a lot of flashcards, you can place one on each chair and the students should say the word they are sitting on. If you have a big class, whoever is slow should say the words. In a kindergarten setting (to prevent crying) all kids sit down on the chairs and you can go around them and get the students to call out the words loudly.

5. Hit the wall.                                                                                                                     Most classrooms have four walls and most ESL English classes teach four words. Tape the flashcards around the room, one on each wall, get the students to stand in a circle around you clapping and stomping together suddenly call out one of the flashcards and all children should run to the wall that has the flashcard on it, tap the wall and return to the circle in the middle. Then chant the old word until you are ready to call out the new one. Most kids use it as a race to get back to the centre which can be fun.

If you have ever taught in an ESL class you know children love to prove themselves in the classroom, their little hearts are still full of pride at their abilities and still haven’t learned to filter their competitive spirit. You can use this to your advantage! Coupled with copious praise and small motivations you can make any game into a learning opportunity!

If you have ANY  great games you often use in your classrooms, whether its ESL or other subject please share them below, we can all benefit from our collective teacher wisdom!

Sincerely Christi