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Games and Sleeves Activities

Alibi A crime has been committed and 2 people are suspected of the crime; they deny their
guilt and claim to have the perfect alibi; 2 pupils are chosen as suspects and go outside for
5/10 minutes to invent a detailed story for their movements on the evening of the crime
(where they were, who they were with, what they ate, how long they were there etc);
meanwhile the class, as the police, thinks of questions to ask the suspects; then split the
class into 2 equal groups, and make sure each student has at least one or two of the
questions to ask (where did you meet your friend? What were you wearing? Etc); call the
suspects back in; each group questions a suspect; then the groups either switch and
question the other suspect with the same questions, or both groups come together to
discuss what they found out and whether they think the suspects are guilty or not;
meanwhile, let the suspects sit together and talk about what questions they found difficult
to answer, and what things they think they have said different things for; ask the class to
deliver their verdict with their reasons; encourage the students to name the contradictions
by using ‘whereas’ ‘while’ ‘but’ ‘therefore’ etc.
Animal Stickers Also good for famous people, jobs etc; students write an animal name on a sticker and
keeps it hidden from everyone else; stick it on someone else’s back; every person goes
round, asks questions with yes/no answers to find out what they are; max. 3 questions per
person before moving on; bring everyone together – who hasn’t guessed what they are;
get everyone to help giving clues
Battleships Every student has a page with 2 identical grids; instead of numbers/letters to find a
(phonetics) square, have words with similar sounds e.g. wheel, veal; top grid to choose their own
positions; bottom grid for finding their partners
Bingo For phonetic symbols, large numbers, times, weights and measures, vocab
(pictures/symbols on the cards)
Change Places If… Students stand up and make a circle with you in the middle; use scrap paper to mark each
place and get students to stand on one piece each; change place if…you’re wearing blue
socks; you’ve climbed a tree; you watched tv yesterday, or ask students to only form
questions using the present perfect
Charades Fold up pieces of paper with key concepts/recent vocabulary on; students take turns to act
out the idea and get the rest of the class to guess (also in small groups to maximise
speaking practice)
Clues Quiz Small groups; give clues one at a time, starting with the hardest; points awarded
depending on how soon they guess (but only one guess per clue) e.g. It’s a small country;
It’s in South America; It begins with an E…
Consequences Each player has a sheet of paper and a pencil and is asked to write down a man’s name,
fold the paper so that the name is hidden and pass it on to the next player; the second
step is to write and followed by a woman’s name and to fold the paper again and pass it
on; Then come where they met, what he said, what she said and finally the consequence
was that… before the papers are unfolded and read out e.g. Charles Dickens met Snow
White at Paddington Station. He said ‘It’s going to rain soon’. She said ‘When’s your
birthday?’. The consequence was that they both fell into the lake; alternatively, a paper
may have a picture at the top and each student must write a caption for the picture,
folding it over each time, or describing the emotion of the person shown
Cops and Robbers Split the class into 2 teams – cops and robbers; the teacher is the judge; get a number of
small items and place them in the middle of the classroom with one team on each side of
the classroom (or playground); give each cop and each robber a number; call out an object
and say a number e.g. pencil – 6; the robber with that number must try and get the item
while the cop must try and tag the robber; if the robber gets back to their chair without
being tagged they say ‘I’ve got the…’ or if the cop tags the robber, they say ‘I’ve caught
the robber’; award a point to the robber/cop – use ladder charts on the board; game ends
when all the items have been gathered
Countdown Set a task and a time-limit; use countdown music to maintain motivation to complete the
Crossword Clues Ask students to write clues for a crossword on a topic chosen by the class/a crossword
already compiled by the teacher; demonstrate the problem of multiple answers if a clue
isn’t precise; practice creating and writing concise definitions; ask students to compare
answers/or have a few small groups with different crosswords – can they fill in the answers
by looking at the other teams clues
Definitions (as a Put keywords on the board, enough for one per student plus a couple extra; students take
class) it in turns to pick a word and define it; if the definition is correct, the word is rubbed off
and they sit down
Definitions Game Put students in groups with a small pile of strips face down in the middle; 1 person picks
up a slip and defines a word; others try to guess; person who guesses keeps the card;
most cards win
Dingbats Use letters, photos and cartoons to depict vocabulary/concept; ask students to guess the
answer, or to develop dingbats themselves and then switch to guess each other’s answers
Dominoes Divide definition and term; homophones; synonyms or antonyms etc.; normal domino rules
or help each other as a group to complete an entire chain; could use pictures to help
young learners
Drawing Abstract Ask students to try to draw a concept (e.g. happiness, beauty, usefulness, hate); puts
Nouns students into groups to compare their drawings and discuss why they drew what they did
Filling The Gaps Each learner has a number of cards, each bearing a letter clearly visible; use letters that
occur most often in English (e,a,t,o,n,I,s,h,d,l); think of a word and ask for certain letters in
it; place the students who have those letters in order, but leaving gaps where other letters
are missing; the class has to guess the word and the missing letters come forward to fill
the gaps; with vocabulary such as animals, show a picture once the word has been
completed to check all students understand its meaning, or use CCQs
Find Someone Pre-prepared sheet or list on board; students have to ask each other questions to find a
Who… person for each category; no person allowed more than twice on the page
Happy Families Card Game, to practise polite questions & courtesy – Can I have Mr Bones please? (I don’t
have Mr Bones) Please can I have Miss Carrot? (Yes, here you are); players take turns to
ask questions to try and complete a family; one with the most families wins; could also add
in conditionals e.g. If I give you Miss Fish, will you give me Mr Bones?; for young children,
give everyone a card; ask one child from each family to the front of the class; these
children read out who they are (I am Mr Bones) and then choose someone and asks them
their name; if they are from the same family, they go out and join the questioner, and ask
someone else the same question; if not, the next child at the front asks someone; first
complete family wins
Headlines Give each group a different daily newspaper; get them to find 5 language (or other topic
relating to recent vocabulary) based headlines; quickest team wins; discuss what counts
as language and the topics of the articles in groups/as a class
Hot Seat Divide the class into groups; put a chair for each group with the back to the board, facing
the team members; 1 student from each group sits on the chair; take a word from a
vocabulary bag and write it on the board; team members define the word without saying it
or using mime; team member who guesses first gets a point
If Based on the board game; a picture board of a winding start/finish board; each square has
a picture of, for example, an animal, a vehicle, a food, a building, an everyday object; for
each group there is a pack of cards, each of which has a clearly printed instruction; players
take turns to draw a card and read it aloud; players should justify their moves and feel free
to argue against it e.g. If this is something you can buy at a local supermarket, move
forward two spaces; unless this is an animal you can keep as a pet, stay where you are;
unless this is something everyone needs, go back to the beginning; teacher should act as
umpire, as students are likely to disagree with each other on some things; first to the finish
Interconnecting Similar to ladders but students in teams go from top to bottom of the whiteboard with
Words Race criss-crossing words (like in scrabble)
I Spy For classroom vocabulary; I spy with my little eye something beginning with…or one-two-
three, what can I see, something in this room beginning with…
I Went to the shop Memory game – I went to the shop and bought a … (revise food etc); I went to the zoo and
and bought a… saw a … (animals); I went to school and had a … lesson etc.; students draw the foods on
the board – use as prompts for new vocabulary; practice pronunciation as students read
out from the pictures on the board
Ladders Draw ladders on the whiteboard, one per team; students, in teams, put a word on each
rung (getting longer as they go up); set a theme, words connected with______, or words
starting with______, or containing a certain sound or letter
Matchstick Each student gets 2/3 matchsticks; must get rid of them by answering questions before
Questions the end of the lesson
Missing Element Remove an area of a photo; ask students to discuss what they think is there are what they
would like to be there
Musical Dictation Split class into groups of 3/4; Each group has a pen and passes it to each other while the
music plays; when the music stops the person holding the pen must write down what the
teacher says (vary difficulty – could start with single words, then short phrases, then full
sentences); go through the words and spelling after; each group awards themselves points
for each correct word; use to revise recent vocabulary/grammar with the class
Nationalities Quiz Go round the class assigning letters from the alphabet; every student (and the teacher)
must come up with a country for that letter, the nationality of the people and the language
they speak
Next Scene Set up a script on a topic and ask students to write/act out the likely next scene; can add
complications, such as the script has to fit in key words, or use 3 different tenses
Old MacDonald Song for revising farmyard vocabulary with young children
Pictionary Teams or whole class; 1 person picks a word and has to draw it; others try to guess what it
Pictionary Story Read out a short story quickly to the class; students have to record the story without using
numbers or words, or using key words/nouns/verbs/adjectives only; compare the success
of recording with a partner and try to reconstruct the story
Picture Jigsaw Copy some images and cut them into 4/5 random pieces; give out one piece per student;
must keep it hidden and describe what they see on their piece to guess which pieces fit
together to make a full image; walk around the class asking each other questions to find
the rest of their group
Sentences in a Hat Give several strips of paper to each student; ask them to write one sentence on each
which is true about them; can specify a tense or structure e.g. used to, or give them some
sentence beginnings on the board for the students to complete; collect the strips into a hat
(correcting as you do so); ask students to stand up in the middle of the class; take one
strip each and have to find the person who wrote it by making it into a questions; when
they find the author, they write their name on it and come back for more slips until all are
Simon Says Use for specific vocabulary e.g pick up your pencil, your ruler…; directions e.g. turn to your
right/left; actions e.g. jump up and down; touch the wall etc; body parts e.g. touch your
nose etc.
Silent Film Students sees 5-10 minutes of a short film with action in it, at least twice, with the sound
turned off; groups discuss their interpretation of what happened – who are the people?
Where are they? What has been happening; the film is then shown with the sound turned
on; subsequent discussion to use I thought…, I was right/wrong…It didn’t look as if…and
compare interpretations
Sit Down, Stand Up Choose a song and write some key words on the board that are used a lot in the lyrics; ask
students to choose 2/3 words each, and to not tell others what they are; when they hear
one of their words, they stand up; hear another, sit down etc.; have to try and guess what
words their neighbours chose; good with downtown, yellow submarine etc.
Shipwreck Each group has a pen and paper, and one student in each group does the writing; first
students are 2/3 minutes to write down all the names of foods they can think of; then
another 2/3 minutes for drinks; then clothes; then tools (depending on the level); group a
read out their list; anything that another group has is crossed off by every group; then
group b read out what they still have left, and anything shared by other groups is crossed
off; then group c, etc.; the results not crossed out on any list are the items only that group
thought of; tell students they have been shipwrecked on a desert island, and this is all the
food, drink and clothing (and tools) they have; ask each group to think about how they will
survive, what is useful and what is not on their list
Snail Race Good for reviewing vocabulary; mark out a race track with bands across the whiteboard;
put paper snails, one per team, at one end; read out definitions and the first team to shout
out the answers gets their snail moved on one place
Speed Dating Give each student a question and put the chairs into 2 circles, an inner circle facing out
with each chair paired with one in the outer circle facing in; student pairs ask each other
their question; inner circle rotate one seat clockwise, then outer circle one seat anti-
Stepping Stones A river with crocodiles is drawn on the board/mapped out on the floor and the task is to
cross it by stepping stones; for each stone a word has to be correctly spelt (written on
board or on a piece of paper); could be in teams – if correctly spelt, they progress a stone,
if not they stay still, first team to the other side wins;
Stress Humming Write 3/4 syllable words with stress in different places on strips of paper; students choose
one at random each and keep it secret; have to go round the class and hum the stress in
the word (e.g. historical=hmm-HMM-hmm-hmm) to find out which other people have the
same stress pattern as them and form groups; check words as a class
Taboo Give each group a stack of cards with a key word on and a few connected
words/collocations they are not allowed to use; students take turns to turn over a card and
define it to their group without using the given words; person who guesses keeps the card;
most cards wins
Typhoon Grid on board – A1, A2 etc. Letters each have a verb; numbers have a tense. Fill grid with
points, change points symbols and points wipeout typhoons. Keep scoreboard for teams;
encourage peer-correction.
Uncle Archie’s Cat The first student begins with a and says ‘Uncle Archie’s cat is an alarming/angry cat’; the
second player has to think of an adjective beginning with b (bad/brave) etc; to make more
difficult for higher levels, add adverbs to adjectives eg. alarmingly fierce/dangerously thin;
badly behaved; carefully groomed etc; could be played in small groups with lower levels,
so students think of an adjective together in 3’s/4’s, or that a player who can’t think of an
adjective is ‘out’, but can come back into the game if another person gets stuck and they
can think of an appropriate word
Use Words Whilst Put students into small groups and ask them to draw out slips at random from a
Talking About… vocabulary bag, and to keep them secret; give them a topic to talk about and tell them
they have to try and use their words in a conversation in a natural manner; either they lay
down the slips when they use the word, or their team mates must guess when they think a
word was used noticeably – if correct, the student takes another slip
Vocabulary Bag Keep an envelope/bag/box with slips of blank paper, and record new vocabulary as you go
in lessons; use activities for future activities, and to revise vocabulary later on
What’s In My Bag? Teacher asks what have I got in my bag today, and the children have to guess; when there
is a correct guess, bring the item out and show it to them; brush up vocabulary by putting
specific items in (from previous lessons vocab) and dropping hints for the children; also
encourage plurals – one postcard or some postcards
Where Is It? Students close their eyes/turn around while a small object is hidden; they all have to make
at least one guess about where it is (encourage prepositions, questions or statements);
person who guesses right hides the item again; alternatively, give each student a list of
items that have been hidden in the room somewhere; students have to look for them in
the room and write down where they are within a time limit (The…is… or There is a…)
Whispers Practice pronunciation of areas students have trouble recognising, especially long numbers
or similar phonemics; teacher whispers to a student; students whisper in a line to each
other; last student writes on the board; keep moving student places around
Who Am I? Everyone imagines themselves to be someone else (a well-known living person or
historical figure); everyone makes up two short sentences about themselves e.g. I lived
in…; I was a scientist/astronaut/footballer; other students guess who they are, or use a
mill-drill where students have to speak to everyone to guess who they are, scribble it
down, and then compare ideas as a class after; for young children, have one child facing
the wall with their back to the others; various children say a phrase in turn, such as good
morning, disguising their voices; if the speaker cannot guess who it is, or guesses
incorrectly, they change places with the speaker; alternatively, ask the children to pretend
to be an animal and think of two short sentences about that animal as a clue for the others
e.g. I’m very small and I have 8 legs
Wordsearch Create a wordsearch with clues/definitions that the students have to work out to know
what word they are searching for