Games are lots of fun. As I mostly teach adults in professional settings, I don’t have many opportunities to actually play them. To be honest, during the brief time I taught kids, thinking of new games to play was one of my biggest challenges. I’m just not a games guy. Sure, there are lots of resources out there, but more often than not, I relied on my more experienced coworkers for examples that they knew would work.
The simple games listed here are things I have played with my students. Some of them I came up with myself, others are adapted from other people’s ideas. If you have a great game to share, please let us all know.
Place four cards on the table. Tap one and say the name. The next player will tap it again and add one more. The next player will tap them both and add one more. Keep going to build longer and longer chains of words.
Place some cards on the floor. Kids flip a coin and say the word the coin lands on. and flip the card over. If the coin lands on a card that has already been flipped, it flips back to the original position. The first person to flip all their cards is the winner.
Kids take pieces, place them on top, and say target language or put target language on the blocks themselves.
Safe or Say: Zombies
In this game, draw a target on the board. Around Halloween, I draw a zombie or other monster. Kids toss a ball to hit the target. If they hit it, they are safe, and if they miss, they have to say a target phrase. (Flip that to reinforce speaking as a reward.)
For Older Kids
Kids bounce a pingpong ball on the table and into the cups worth different points based on position. When balls go in, the other team has to say the target phrase. When they don't, your team has to say it. Either way, there's lots of talking going on.
For Young Adults
This is a wicked fun game and if you haven’t played it, you have to try. If you have Japanese students, it’s similar to the game, Senda, Mitsuo, Nahanaha. Rules are included in the PDF as they would take too long to describe here, but for best results, keep it as simple as possible for non-native speakers. (Best suited for high level students.)
This game is best for higher level students. Use the word grids to find words. Whoever finds the most words is the winner. This can be a great way to have kids looking closely for words with subtle variations like different prefixes and suffixes.
This game honestly surprised me as students really took to it. There's not much to it. Match words with particles to find phrasal verbs. Guess correct and you'll get lots of points and new words. I guess simple is best sometimes.