7 Top ESL Games for Teaching Children, Kids

Have you ever been stuck on how to engage your students or help them be excited about English learning? Keep reading to find out activities and games that children will enjoy that are also fostering their English learning skills.

A quick list of the top 7 games that will make your students fall in love with:

  1. Simon Says
  2. Sing the Missing Word
  3. I Spy
  4. Flashcard Matching
  5. “Cloze” Passage Stories
  6. Flashcard Race
  7. Singing Songs Using TPR

1. Simon Says

If you haven’t played this one, not sure where you have been hiding!

  • The teacher stands in front of the classroom and asks students to stand up.
  • If the teacher says Simon says, the students point to that body part or object. For example, Simon says point to your nose.
  • If the teacher doesn’t say Simon says, and the student still completes the action, they are out. For example, point to your nose. No Simon says means you have to freeze.

This gets surprisingly challenging once you start speeding up the game.

2. Sing the missing word

  • Start students on a mission to learn some English pop or children’s songs with simple lyrics. For more advanced levels, you can choose more lengthy songs.
  • Maybe listen to the song on a few separate occasions with students. Hearing singing in English is a great excessive anyway to do on continually to help that audio into students brains.
  • Have students stand in a circle if possible. Play the song and pause the radio at certain parts, then whichever student says the correct word in that place wins (or they can sing if they like).

3. I Spy

  • Explain the rules of I spy, simply being that each student takes a turn at thinking of something in the room, say the begging letter to the word, and then have the other players guess. For example, Window begins with W. Once a student guesses W, that student then gets a turn to choose a letter.

4. Flashcard matching

  • Match picture to the word e.g. Cat.
  • Place flashcards with words and objects/animals mismatched on the floor mixed in a pile.
  • Explain to children that they will be in two teams, and whichever teammates pair up the right word and picture the most, wins.
  • Students should start in two lines and depending on their level, can be given an amount of time to complete a match.
  • Students move throughout the lines and practice their English skills.

5. “Cloze” passages stories

These will make reading more interesting for your students.

  • Firstly, complete some book study groups with students and discuss these in small groups.
  • Then, give out a close passage of missing words based off story extracts.
  • Students complete the passages with correct meaning words or exact phrases from the story if they remember.
  • This way, the story will be familiar to students however they will also be practising writing, vocabulary and spelling skills.

6. Flashcard race

  • Print out various flashcards of pretty much anything! For example, animals, objects, symbols, letters, numbers or gestures. The important part if that the flashcard is clear and a decent size.
  • Have students split up into a few groups and create a point system on the board. (E.g. Group A gets one point!).
  • Stand at the front of the classroom and explain whichever team says the word correctly (including pronunciation) first get a point.
  • The winning team will receive some sort of reward or classroom privilege, which doesn’t have to be grand.

7. Singing songs using TPR

  • Another way to incorporate music is to sing popular nursery rhymes or appropriate songs.
  • These songs should include actions that are easy to show through our body language.
  • Teachers can firstly help students get familiar with these songs. Then, teachers can start adding actions to these songs and even ask students ideas too.
  • Slow it down, practice the actions. Eventually, students and you should be able to dance to the song together!
  • This is a good use of using total physical response approach, which helps students understand the connection between English words and their meaning.

So, there you have it. These activities can be used as warm-ups or to help end the class on a fun note. Keep following us for more teaching tips.

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This article was originally published on August 3, 2018 and was last updated on November 14, 2020.

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