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Game Ideas for Teaching

Articles from United States Virginia, United States | Feb 13, 2014

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  Game Ideas for Teaching  


Simon Says

To learn the parts of the body or how to give/follow commands.

Scavenger (Treasure) Hunt

A student will hide things and then give clues to the other students as to their location.

The teacher will plant objects and then gives clues that will lead to a prize.

The students are given a list of items to find in a place, a day, a movie, etc.

I Spy

The teacher or a student will pick an object and then the teacher/student will guess the object.

21 Questions

One person will pick a person, place, or thing and the others have to guess by asking yes or no questions.


One person will draw/pick a person, places, thing, or action. Then, they will act out what they chose, while the other people guess. (This can be used to teach the parts of a sentence)


One person will draw a person, places, thing, or action and the other person guess what it being drawn. (This can be used to teach the parts of a sentence)

Hang Man

This can be used to teach vocabulary and spelling.

Story Telling

One person picks a topic. Then the students take turns adding a sentence to the story being told.

One person picks a topic. Then the students take turns adding a word to the sentence.


The students have topics that they research. Then, the students form a debate that supports their side and disproves their opponent’s side.

Role Play

Students are given a situation to act out with appropriate dialogue.

Students are given a perspective about an issue and have to argue/discuss the issue from that perspective.


The student has to match the picture/Spanish with the vocabulary word in English.

The student has to match the word to the part of speech.

The student has to match words in various tenses with the tenses.  


The students take turns adding a letter to the spelling of a word. If they miss a letter, they have to sit out until the next round.

The teacher calls out a word and then the students write it out on a whiteboard.

Definition Game

One person picks a hard word from the dictionary. Then, they write the correct definition along with several false definitions. The other people have to guess the correct definition.

The students are given a list of hard words from the dictionary and the students have to guess the correct definition.

The Alphabet Game

The first students comes up with a word that starts with the letter a. The next students says the first word and adds his own word for the letter b. This continues on for the rest of the alphabet. If the student says the wrong word or leaves a word out, they have to sit down until the next round.  

Secret Code

The teacher comes up with a code and then writes out vocabulary words in the code so the students can decipher the words. The students can come up with their own codes and time how long it takes each person to decode the words.

Beep Game

The students take turns saying the next number in a series, but on the third number they have to say beep. The next student has to say the number that would come after the beeped out word. For example: 5, 10, beep, 20, 25, beep, 35…

This can be done with the alphabet as well.


The students are given different categories. Then, one person picks/draws a letter. Next, the students have to come up with a word for each category that starts with the letter.

Students are given a category and have to think of as many words in that category before time runs out.

Students are given a category. The students take turns adding a word in the category until someone cannot think of another word. The person who cannot think of more words losses.

Time Indicator

One student says a time word or phrase (e.g. next year, a few days ago). A second student must complete a sentence using the proper verb tense. That student then says a different time word or phrase. A third student uses it to form a sentence, but may not use the same verb or subject pronoun the second student used. Verb tenses may be repeated if necessary, but verbs may not, and subject pronouns may be repeated only after they have all been used once. The game can continue as long as the teacher wants, though two runs through all the subject pronouns is an appropriate length. The teacher may write the full sentences on the board, but should at least keep track of which subject pronouns and verbs have been used.

The normal rules to the game BS.

You can call the game liar instead if you do not feel comfortable calling it BS.

Differences Game

The students are shown one picture to memories. Then, they are shown another picture and pick out the difference.

The students are given two pictures with minor differences that they have to find.

One student is shown a picture and asked to describe the picture to another student who has to draw the picture without looking at the original.

The students are given different pictures. They take turns describing things in the picture so they can find the differences between the pictures without looking at the original.  

What’s on your back?

Students take turns tracing letters, shapes, or numbers on other student’s backs. The student then guesses the letter, shape, or number that was traced.    

Story Fold-Over

The student creates a fold-over with who, what, where, when, and how on one side. Then, the students create their own story by filling in the parts of the story.

Topic: My Town

Do you like the town/city you live in? Why? Why not?

Teacher makes a list of the positive points mentioned by the pupils. Discuss common and original comments.

Teacher makes a list of negative comments about towns/cities mentioned

The perfect town/city: The class now makes a list of the characteristics of a perfect town/city. For example, these could include: Bicycle paths, No smoke, No cars, Sports facilities, No violence, Beautiful buildings, Culture.

Compare your town/city with another one you know, and make a list of the comments. Some examples: My town is noisier than X, because… My city is more boring than Y, because ...

You can go on to mention aspects such as Pollution, Poverty/Wealth, Green areas, Amenities, Transport, Health, Crowding, Cost of living, Selfishness...

The best town/city you have ever been to/seen?

Think Fast Vocabulary

Describe a vocabulary word with three sentences. The students can throw a ball to each other to pick the next person to add a descriptive sentence about the vocabulary word. (Ball Game)

Select a word. Then, the students will take turns saying the word in different tenses. When the ball is thrown to them it is their turn. (Ball Game)

Drawing Directions

A student is given a word such as an animal or object. The student then has to walk another person through how to draw the animal/object without telling them what it is and only using shapes and directions to explain how to draw it.  

Arrange the Story

The teacher cuts out parts of a story or steps in a set of directions and the students have to put it back into the right order.

Spin Zone

The students try to list as many things in a category or count as high as they can before the top stops spinning.


The teacher pretends to be an alien and the students have to describe basic things about everyday life as a human. What is a pen? What are emotions? Etc.


Students pretend that they are lost in the jungle or shipwrecked on an island. Then, they have to decide what five items they would most need and what they would do to survive.  

True or False

I never go to bed after 1 am. I study English more than 2 hours a week. I had a great time at secondary school-I loved it. My ambition in life is to get a permanent job. My parents started giving me pocket money when I was five. I don't mind wet days, there are still plenty of things to do. I really believe that motorbikes are dangerous. Parents spoil their children nowadays. The beach is for relaxing and doing nothing. I am an adventurous person. I never run for a bus-I can catch the following one. In the end, most people are very nice. I absolutely hate Mondays. I have never stolen anything-never. People who smoke are crazy. Tall men/women are more interesting than small ones. People who watch more than 2 hours of TV a day are wasting time. Spending 4,000 pesetas on a permanent is immoral. Keeping animals at home is cruel. I am intelligent.

A Conversation Idea: Rate the Apparatus

The many household apparatus/machines/gadgets we use at home make life a  little bit easier; the micro-wave oven heats things up quickly; the fridge keeps perishable goods fresh; the washing-machine cleans our clothes and saves us time. So, when put to the test, which of these machines/apparatus could we do without- if we had to? In other words, which of these machines is the most important, generally speaking? Get your students to make a list of ten common ones, and then get them to list them in order of perceived necessity (for want of a better word). Here is a list I gleaned from my pupils, don't show it to the pupils at first. Refrigerator, Washing machine, Shower, Toilet, Tea/Coffee maker, TV, Radio, Telephone, Light bulb, and Cooker. 


The teacher writes a four letter word (bite). Then, the students take turns changing one letter to make a new word (bate). But, the letter that the next student changes has to be in a different position than the last one. So, the student could not change the second letter in the word during the next round.

Image Guessing Game

The teacher or students create a collage of pictures to represent things about themselves. The other people have to guess what each picture means. For example: A fish could mean that the person likes to eat fish, likes to going fishing, has pet fish, etc.

Finish the Sentence: People who…

Park their cars on the footpath… Who don’t pay taxes… Who throw littler on the ground… Who gives money to charities… Eat crisps at the cinema are… Who drink and drive… Who travel a lot… Who save lots of money… Watch TV all day… Go to the opera… Eat frog’s legs… Climb Everest… Hunt Whales… Eat too much… Drive too fast… Whistle at girls… Smoke in public spaces… Earn a lot of money… Throw their old cooker into a field… Snore…

Movie Review

Students watch a movie, and then talk about the main plot, actors and actresses, provide a synopsis and tell why they have chosen that particular movie. Then, they write a review of the movie like one that they would see in a newspaper or magazine.


The teacher says a word or tense and the student marks off the tense of the word or the words that are in that tense.

The teacher shows a picture of a word and the students mark off the English word on their card.

Making Words from Letters in a Long Word

The students are given long words and then try to make as many small words as they can using only the letters in the long word.

The Brag Game

The students start out with a statement and have to exaggerate or brag about how they did it bigger and better. The next student makes it an even bigger exaggeration. It keeps on going until one student gives up by saying “wow”. Example: I’ve eaten lunch with our principle. I’ve eaten lunch with JK Rowling. I’ve eaten lunch with the president. I’ve eaten lunch with the president and JK Rowling. Etc.

Ideas: I’ve eaten lunch with ___, ___ has asked me to play in his new movie, I just saw ____ at the store, when I grow up, I am going to _____, I just saw a kid on a football field score by _______.

Scene Stories

Put a picture or scene on the board and have the students make up a story to go along with the picture or scene. You can add things to the scene so the students have to revise their stories.

Camera, Lights, and Action (Present Continuous)

One student is sent out of the room, while the other student watches a scene in a movie without sound and records what actions take place. The students take turns in each role, and then compare how they described the scene in the movie.

Defend Your Preference

The students are given a topic like the best candy bar. Then, after picking their favorite, they are asked to defend their choice.

Animal Journal

The students pick an animal and then write a journal about a day in the life of that animal.

Role Play: The Exclusive Picture

Background: The editor of a newspaper, whose sales are not going well at the moment, has just received a very graphic photo of a horrendous accident involving a school-bus and which occurred on a nearby motorway due to heavy fog. In the photo, you can see the injured and dead strewn around the crash scene. The rest is easy to imagine. The problem is whether to publish it or not. The image could shock, all the more so if it is on the front page. Should not the victims be left in peace, and not appear on the cover of a newspaper. Then again, perhaps by publishing this photo, the editor seeks to educate would-be careless drivers, or would-be drink-drivers. Of course, why should these victims be used as free advertising? Also, it is news, and nobody can fault a journalist for airing a story and photo. Moreover, the photo will attract, perhaps, new customers; people have a morbid interest in the misfortunes of others, it is said. Role players: The editor, quite young. The photographer who took the shot, single. The accountant, married with two children. A journalist-relative of one of the victims-in favor of publication, married (with or without children). A second journalist, single, who is against publication. More journalists from various sections of the paper. Facts on newspaper: Employs fifty workers, most with children. Is on the verge of closure. Serious newspaper. Follow-up: Teacher collects main arguments raised and writes them down in order to fully tease out what was said, the validity/logic of same. A more open "casual" group debate can ensue in the wake of the role play. Variation: Instead of a photo, it could be a nasty story about a local hero/personality. Off-shoot Activity: The role of newspapers in society. What sells newspaper? Why do we buy newspapers? Will they disappear in the future?

List the Verbs

The students are given a topic and have to list as many verbs related to the topic in a given amount of time. Example: Things we do with our feet… kick, run, jump, etc.

The Best Person for the Job

The student pretends to be an employer who needs to hire a new employee. What qualities are you looking for in a potential employee?


I have a headache, I hate working, I feel sad, I want to protect the environment, I love people, I am always late, I keep losing my credit card, My friends don’t want to see me, I have a red nose, I am always crashing my car, I would love to meet some people, It would be great to be rich, My stomach is huge, I am very intellectual, Mother says I am attractive.

Extreme Situations

Examples 1: You are on a deserted island. There is a motor boat and you are the only one who knows how to drive it. It is up to you to decide which people of the following people you are going to take with you in the boat. There is space for only you and 3 more people. Here they are: a prostitute, a drug addict, a dying old man, a doctor convicted of malpractice, a child pornographer, a convicted criminal

Example 2: You find a wallet with $50,000 and the ID of its owner. That money is exactly the amount of money you need to cover the expenses of a delicate operation for your daughter. She needs that operation to survive. What would you do with the money?

Truth or Lie

A student is asked a question like ‘have you spoken to a famous person’. The student says ‘yes’ to the question. Then, the other students take turns asking him/her details. The student’s job is to cover up the lie as long as they can. Example: Who was the famous person? What did you talk about? What was the weather like that day? What were they wearing? Why were they in the area? Etc.  

Ideas: Have you ever… Spoken to a famous person? Danced on a table in a public place? Been trapped in a lift? Taken an illegal drug? Sung karaoke? Appeared on television? Left a bar or restaurant without paying? Written graffiti on a wall? Appeared in a photograph in a newspaper? Chased a criminal? Done a very dangerous sport? Won a medal or trophy? Missed a flight? Stayed in a five-star hotel? Swum naked in the sea?

Intonation Fun

'Hello' (to a friend, to a friend you haven't seen for 3 years, to a neighbour that you don't like, to a 6 month old baby, to someone you have just found doing something they shouldn't, to someone on the phone when you're not sure if they are still on the other end)

'Goodbye' (to a member of your family as they are going through the boarding gate at the airport, to someone who has been annoying you, to a child starting his very first day at school)

'How are you?' (to someone you haven't seen for 20 years, to someone who has recently lost a member of the family, to someone who didn't sleep in their own bed last night)

'What have you done?' (to someone who claims to have fixed your television only that now it's worse than before, to someone who is scolding you for not doing anything when you suspect the same about them, to someone who has just done something very bad and which has serious consequences)

Card Flip

Assign two letters of the alphabet to each playing card in a deck. Draw a card and have the students write a sentence starting with that letter. Or, draw a series of cards and have the students form sentences using the cards.


Have the students compete to earn the most points by answering questions.

Use a tic-tac-toe board for the questions.

Have students come up with questions to ask their opponents.

Scene Game

Play a clip from a movie and have students list as many items in the scene as they can after the clip is over (without taking any notes). To make it harder, have them find items that start with a certain letter of the alphabet, have a certain shape, are a certain color, etc.

What’s the Word

The student is given a word like school. The student is also given a list of words that they cannot use to describe the word. Then, the student has to get another student to guess the word without using the description words on the card.

Whisper Game

The teacher tells one student a story or sentence. Then, during the lesson or day, the student has to tell another student the same sentence or story. This continues until every student has passed on the story or sentence. It will end when the teacher is told the story or sentence. If it is the same as the one they started with, then they all win.

Tags: Games , Teaching , Ideas

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