25 October 2013

Repertoire of Games

I will update this list from time to time and eventually sort it out by link and topic. These are compiled from games I've learned, developed, and found online. 

The games in green are my favorites

Amnesia: Write up a list of names of famous/well known people on cards. A student volunteers to come to the front of the class and must ask yes or no questions to try to figure out who they are. The volunteer can not see the name written on the card, but the rest of the class can. Sample questions: Am I a man? Do I live in America? Am I alive? I’m a singer, aren’t I? (Alternative: have 3 or 4 students come to the front, put one card on each of their backs and the first student to figure out who they are wins.) It’s good to stick to names that everyone knows, but it’s funny when you throw in a strange one, like “your mother” or “God” or even a classmate. Some tried and true names: Albert Einstein, Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Hitler, Obama, Harry Potter, Angelina Jolie…

Celebrity: I start this activity by asking the students “Who can be famous?” To elicit the types of famous people there are: actors, musicians, politicians, scientists, writers, characters, artists…etc. Then, I have each of the students write down 2-3 famous people on 2-3 separate sheets of paper. (For large groups, you can have them write one name). Put all the names in a folder. You can split the class into teams or they can just play without competing. There are three rounds to the game. One student comes to the front of the class and has one minute to make the class guess as many names on the sheets of paper as possible. Students can not speak in their native language. If they do, take a point away. When all of the names have been guessed, you put them back in the folder and proceed to the next round.
Round 1: You must use as many words as you can to describe the person on the pieces of paper. (Gestures are not allowed, if they use them, minus a point)
Round 2: Three. Words. Only. (Um and Uh count, so make sure you tell your students to slow down and choose their words wisely.)
Round 3: No words allowed. Students must act out the person.

Blowfish: This is a great game to play with large classes. Make teams according to rows. Tell each row to make a paper fish. You place each fish between the rows. They should all be at the back facing the front. They should also be in the same position.  Using the tile on the floor you can line them up at the starting line. Then you start asking questions when a student answers the question correctly he gets a chance to blow on his teams fish. The team that is able to move their fish to the front of the room wins the game.

Sentence Race:  A good game for large classes and for reviewing vocabulary lessons
1. Prepare a list of review vocabulary words.
2. Write each word on two small pieces of paper. That means writing the word twice, once on each paper.
3. Organize the pieces like bundles, 2 bundles, 2 sets of identical words.
4. Divide the class into 2 teams. get them to make creative team names.
5. Distribute each list of words to both teams. every student on each team should have a paper. Both teams have the same words.
6. When you call a word, 2 students should stand up, one from each team. The students must then run to the blackboard and race to write a sentence using their word.The winner is the one with a correct and clearly written sentence.
 This is always a hit with kids. For more advanced students, use tougher words.

Running Dictation
Before a stirring activity, like running dictation*, you need your class to be silent and listen to the instructions to do the activity properly. However when you tell them that you are going to do a fun activity, they might get too excited to listen to your instructions silently before getting started. At this point, you can draw a fun-o-meter on the board. The more they get ready for the activity, the closer the arrow gets to the ‘running dictation’(or whatever activity you are planning to do) side. You will see that they will get silent very quickly. Do it in a fun way and turn the arrow towards the negative part even if you hear a whisper. It is fun to watch them trying to control themselves not to giggle.:-)
*How to play running dictation: Divide class into teams. In each team students take turns and be a reader and there is a writer. Put up texts (usually short text) at the back of the class. Tell the readers that they will run to a text, read and memorize a part of it. As quickly as possible they will run back and dictate the text to the writer in their group. The writer writes while other students go back to read more text. The group that finishes writing their text first wins and reads out the text to the class.

Rules/Must Game with Rock Paper Scissors
I made a single sheet of paper that has some rules on it.

You must use full names.
You must speak in a high voice.
You must close one eye.
You must sing everything.
You must use King or Queen as titles.
You must put one hand on your partner.
You can't use scissors.
You can't use names.
You can't speak Japanese.
You can't walk.
You can't use your right hand.
You can't answer any questions.

Students start off with no rules. Then the game begins. The students play rock-paper-scissors and the winner gets to select a rule that the loser must follow. They then tell the loser the rule he must follow and circle that rule and from that point on that student must abide by that rule until the game is over. The rules keep piling up and 5 minutes into the game, half the kids will be on the floor rolling in laughter and the other half will be hopping along singing a song in a high voice unable to use their right hand with one eye closed.

Ask the Teacher a Question (practice question words). This category is potential unlimited points, as it involves the students asking the teacher a question, and as long as they don’t repeat questions, they can keep asking questions and winning more points indefinitely (I know, a bit different from Jeopardy, but they go nuts for this and it gets a lot of English going in the classroom.) Asking a WHAT question = 100 points. Asking a WHERE question = 200 points. WHEN = 300 points, HOW = 400 points, and WHY = 500 points. I like this because it gets their brains working, trying to put words together and say things they’ve never tried to say before. Some good questions I’ve gotten recently:
SURPRISE AUCTION (creative writing / describing pictures)
For this you need a set of picture cards with objects, animals etc. Tell the class that you are going to auction these objects, and that each student has 100 pounds to spend. Auction the items and keep a note of who bought what, giving the card to the buyer. After a few items have been sold, tell the students what they have really bought, eg, ' you bought a nice house for 90 pounds, but I'm afraid you'll never be able to use it, it is on the edge of a volcano.' 'you thought you bought a butterfly for 20 pounds, but it really is a miniature robot worth thousands of pounds.'
Put students in groups and give them some picture cards. Tell them to think of a surprise like this for each picture, and write them down. Then one person (an auctioneer) from each group will go to another group with the cards and auction them to members of that group. (Teach some useful phrases, eg Do I hear 10? Who'll give me 20? etc.)
When the auctioneer has sold all the cards he tells the story behind each object. As final stage students from different groups can compare their purchases.

A Ship comes loaded…with (choose a letter!) memory.
This is a game where you practice words and your memory!
Let the students choose a letter, for example A. Now the class is going to say words, one each, that begins with an A.
Start like this: say to the first student "a ship comes loaded". The student answers "with what" and you say "with apples". Then the student continues to say to the next one in the class "a ship comes loaded"...he/she answer "with what"...the student says "with apples and apes" for example. And then it continues like that "forever".
The students have to remember what words have been said and they have to come up with a new word beginning with the letter that they decided to play with.
If anyone fails to remember all the words that have been said or if he/she can´t come up with a new word, they are out of the game. The winner is the one that can continue "forever" without failing. (It can be a looong day!)
When I played it with my class (swedish 13 year olds) they didn´t want to stop so they continued the game even after the lesson was finished and I had left the room!!
Enjoy the alphabet with the loaded ship!

Agree, Disagree, I don’t care—Debate with Movement!
The teacher divides the room into three areas: agree, disagree, and I don’t care. I usually do agree= front of the room, disagree=back of the room, and I don’t care=sit down in  your seat. Then the teacher makes a statement like "Summer is the best season,” “I don’t like chocolate,” “Dogs are better than cats,” “English is the best subject…etc” The students move to the area that fits their opinion Alternative 1: The students in each area have a few minutes to discuss why they feel this way and then their group presents. Alternative 2 (small class): Just ask the students to each defend their opinions. Depending on the type of statement made by the teacher, this game can be very serious, very funny, very political etc... Cultural differences among students are highlighted in this game and debate can get intense.

Alibi crime role play game
50 min. per game, my students liked it so much, they wanted to play twice!
Write the word "Alibi" on the board and explain what it means.
Invent a crime, when it was committed and where. I picked a bank robbery
at a real bank, close to the university where I teach. Then I said that 
four university students where suspects of the bank robbery.
Next, divide the class into groups, my class has 20 students, so I divided
the class in to 5 groups of four. Say something like, and the four suspects 
are members of this class. Ask one group to volunteer to be the suspects. 
Tell them their alibi, they couldn't have committed the robbery because 
they were eating dinner in a restaurant far away from the crime scene.
The students who aren't suspects, the investigators, must try to find holes in their alibi.
They way they do this is by interviewing each of the suspects separately and then comparing the stories to see
if they match. So, send the suspects out of the room to try to get their stories straight.
While the suspects are talking about the details of their stories, the investigators in each group 
come up with a list of questions about the "suspects" alibi. 
They can ask things like, "what was the waitress wearing, how long did you stay, how did you get there?"
After the students are finished preparing invite the suspects back in, one suspect goes to each of the 
groups to be interviewed. Once each group has interviewed each suspect, compare with the class. 
If they suspect's stories match, they are off the hook, if not, they are officially accused. You could make the crime less serious, kidnapping a neighbor's dog or something. As an extension, you could also hold a trial in class. In China, capital punishment is widely accepted, so perhaps
make the crime less serious so you don't have to execute one of your students.
Animal Fight—to review new animals.
When you have a load of new animals to teach, a fun way to kill the last 10 minutes is is to write them all on the board, and pair them off, so you have gorilla vs deer, then ask the chilren who would win in a fight. Do it in the format of quarter finals semi finals finals, is funny because monkey usually wins! Remember to ask why after each animal wins their fight.

The Parallel Universe Shopping Spree! (Young learners)
This is an activity that revises shopping role plays and gives students something to think about! Tell the students they are in a parallel universe which is exactly the same as this one in all respects except that some nouns are different. For example the objects we know as 'Cars' are known as 'plates' in the parallel universe.
Set up four shops in different parts of the classroom. These can be a clothes shop, green-grocer, toy shop and electrical shop. Each shop is staffed by one or two shop assistants. These have a list of items in our universe and the equivalents in the parallel universe. The rest of the students are shoppers. They each have different shopping lists prepared by you of four things to buy, but They do not know what the equivalents are. Suppose one shopper has 'Cabbage' on his list. He goes to the green-grocer. But the green-grocer directs him to the clothes shop. 'Have you got a cabbage?' he asks. 'Certainly, what size?' is the reply. The shopper begins to suspect that cabbage is an item of clothing 'Medium' he says. 'Colour?' 'A Blue one' 'Silk or cotton?' 'Cotton please.''This style is very popular.' 'I'll take it' The shopper realizes that 'cabbage' actually means 'shirt'. He buys this and writes 'shirt' next to 'cabbage' on his list. In the same way he buys the other items on his list, and writes what they are in the world we know. The shoppers guess the item from the questions the assistants ask and from the things they say. The shoppers are not allowed to ask 'What is it?' The shop assistants are not allowed to tell them. When all the shoppers have finished you can check they have got the correct 'Translations'
The shop assistant's list.
Our universe / Parallel universe
radio = cabbage
Cabbage = radio
doll= shirt
Shirt = doll
fridge= bicycle
bicycle= fridge
melon = jigsaw
jigsaw = melon
trousers = batteries
batteries = trousers
washing machine= football
football = washing machine
pineapple = tie
tie = pineapple

An example shopping list:
'You want to buy the following things:
tie =__________ 
radio =___________ 
melon =___________ 
Fill the blank with what the word means in our universe.

UNO Questions: Use Uno cards to have kids talk about their lives/hobbies/opinions. Make each color a different category (things like Family, Hobbies, etc). Students choose a card, and you ask them a question pertaining to that color. For example, if they choose blue and blue means hobbies, you ask them what they do on their free time. Often I'll have yellow mean a Ukrainian word, so they'll tell me a slang word in Ukrainian and what it means in English. I also have black mean that they can ask a question to anyone in the room, which they love doing. This is good for 10th and 11th formers; though you have to make sure they keep it appropriate (especially if you're going to let them explain slang or ask questions).

This is a great warm up game suitable to many fluency levels, ages and target vocabulary types. It also requires no resources and encourages quick thinking. The game can be made as hard or easy as you wish. This is adapted from a Vietnamese schoolyard game so if you are in Vietnam the Students will know how to play already. Students form in to a circle. The teacher is the cowboy in the centre of the circle. Teacher makes a gun shape with their hand. Teacher points to a student (shoots them) and says the target vocab. This student ducks and the Students on either side of them must shoot each other with the answer. The first to say the vocab correctly wins, whilst the second is out. Some examples are:
Opposites bang: (Teacher points to a student and says "yes." Students on either side of the targeted student point to each other and say "NO!")
Adjective bang: (Point to a student and say "Tree". Students on either side say: "Green!" or "Tall!" etc..)
Adverbs Bang: (Point and say: "Ride a bike". Students say: "Slowly" (or "Ride a bike slowly!" for more advanced classes)
Or you could make it more advanced:
Modal Verbs with full sentence: (Ie: Teacher points and says: "Could, question." Students say "Could you close the door please?". Or Teacher says: "Could, statement". Students say: "I could close the door for you".
The teacher can control the game so the remaining two students are from opposing teams. When down to two students, they stand back to back and walk away from each other until teacher says the vocab (Ie: In opposites bang teacher says: "One, Two, Three, Four, Yesterday!". Students turn around and shoot each other after four steps saying "Tomorrow!"). Winning team gets the points/stars/stickers etc..

Begin with 5 categories - colours, fruit & veg, animals, places, things. Create a table with the 5 headings. Give the players a letter of the alphabet and then each person has to identify one word from each category that begins with the letter. The first person to complete all 5 categories must shout out "STOP", and all other players must then stop. Scoring goes as follows: 100 points for each correct word (incl spelling), only 50 points if more than one person has the same word.
This game is very enjoyable at the end of a class or as a warm-up game. Can be used for all levels of ability.

Here is the Dialogue Bubble activity !
What Students need : a piece of paper, scissors, glue, old newspapers and a pencil.
What students will do :
1.Look in newspapers.
2.Find faces of famous people.
3.Cut the faces out.
4.Glue them to your cardboard.
5.Draw speech bubbles for each.
6.Find a subject of conversation that the cut out people are talking about.
7. Invent a conversation and write the speech each person is saying in the matching bubbles.
For example :
They could be talking about an event that happened or something you know about.
Students really like it. Good practice for functional everyday language.

Stepping Stones (practice sentences, articles, tenses, grammar)
I have played this game from beginner to advanced. I make four teams in a large classroom. One student from each team goes to the blackboard where they have an original team name. The board is divided into four spaces with blue chalk like a river. I draw stepping stones in the "river". The idea is to make a sentence by stepping across the "river" and not falling in. For beginners, I draw four or five stepping stones in the river, but for more advanced, ten stepping stones are more challenging. I usually begin the competition by giving the first word, like "I", "The", "What", "Canada", "A", "She", "People". It's difficult for some students so I either do a lot of coaching or just dictation. It helps facilitate text book study and especially difficult grammar points like correct usage of definite and indefinite articles.

Skit in a Bag: (random objects, make a skit with props)
I divided my class into groups of 4-5 students and I gave each student a garbage bag. In each garbage bag was a collection of unrelated things. FOr example, on bag had 1) a small Mount Rushmore oil lamp; 2)a velour bathrobe; 3) a lint brush; 4) a fry pan and 5) a windshield wiper (the weirdness of the items may vary). Students in their groups had to come up with a 2-3 minute skit, utilizing all the objects. The students could either perform the skit in front of the class, or have the skits videotaped and shown in class.

Snake in the Class: Good warmup. Music, throw ball, music stops, word on the board.
For playing snake you need something small that students can throw around the classroom. What they do is throw it around until you say STOP, or I also play music and when the music stops who ever is holding the object has to come to the board and write any word on it in English. The next person up has to use the first of the last letter of the word on the board to make another word. Example if some wrote hello, the next person would use the H or the O as the beginning of their word.

Scavenger Hunt
This works really well in all level classes and is similar to some of the ideas on this page- Scavenger Hunt! Good for work on imperatives. I divide the class into teams and then one student from each team takes a slip of paper out of their team’s envelope. They discuss what it means, then they have to do whatever is written on the paper. They can do it alone, with a team member, or with the whole team. After they have completed their activity, the next person chooses a slip of paper. I send them to get things from various areas in the school, make them dance, sing songs, count stairs, everything. I give the first team finished a prize (usually candy) and I hand out a few prizes for courage by asking eg. "Who wrote I love KC three times on the board?" "Who kissed their team member" etc.
The kids love it (as do the adults I've tried this with!).

Typhoon can be used to go-over any class work, or just for fun (e.g. how do you spell..., what is he capital city of...). It is a great time-killer.
1. Draw a grid on the board e.g 4 x 4.
 2. Divide the class into two or more teams. 
3. Draw 2 boats for 2 teams, 3 for 3 teams etc, next to the grid. Ecah boat should have the team number on it.
3. Ask questions. e.g. How do you spell Introduction? What is the capital of China?
4. If a person gets it right. They can draw their team's boat in any square on he grid.
5. Occasionally, a typhoon (tornado or anything else), comes along and sinks the boat. This is a good way to even-up the scores.
6. The winning team has the most boats drawn on the board. Do not include those boats which have been sunk by the Typhoons.
*I have found this best for P3,4,5,6. The kids go mental!
** The more squares, the more time it takes to finish. Generally 4 x 5 = 30 mins or so.

Object Giveaway
The point of this game is to win as many objects as you can. The teacher goes through the list of objects, starting with really cool things, like a digital camera. The students have to say what they will do with the object and the best answer wins the object (really just a cutout thing). Then, the teacher starts using strange objects…like…a bucket of mud, a box of …. A match, …etc. And it forces them to be creative with their answers.

First, you need to choose 5 categories. Ex. Cities/Countries/Names/Animals/Foods/Movies/Songs. You can also incorporate a grammar category Verbs, Nouns, Adjectives,etc etc. Have the students write these categories at the top of their paper and include a column for Score. Then choose two students. When the teacher says GO!, Student 1 will say the alphabet silently in their head. Student 2 will decide when to say STOP! The letter that Student 1 stops on will be the selected letter. The students then rush to see who can write a word for each category beginning with that letter. The first to fill all categories says STOP! and all pencils go down. You review their answers out loud, giving 100 points for each unique answer and 50 points for any repeated answers. I enjoy hearing some of the crazy words they think of when trying to be the only one with their answer,thusly earning the full 100 points.

12 October 2013

Zombie Survival and the Second Conditional

This lesson is not for the squeamish. I used it to talk about opinions, practice using the second conditional, and to discuss realistic survival skills in an unrealistic situation. Also, I'm obsessed with zombies. I've included a quiz I (slightly) adapted from an online zombie survival quiz I found on www.nerdtests.com. There's another great, more detailed, quiz that has a lot of second conditional, here.

I also got some inspiration from www.designerlessons.org, which has a lot of creative lessons for the ESL classroom. Here's their zombie lesson.

Benjamin Franklin for the ESL Classroom

Here are two fun little lesson plans I created about Benjamin Franklin for my 11th grade students in Ukraine. They are for intermediate-level students. The first lesson can be used for grades 7-12. The second one, however, is more suited for teenagers. Questions, comments, and feedback are always welcome.

Resources for Teachers of English

I am a TEFL teacher and Peace Corps Volunteer in Ukraine. I've been teaching here for two years and I've compiled a lot of lesson plans and activities that are currently piled up on the windowsill in my living room. I think it's finally time to organize my teacher brain and share some ideas with other teacher brains that might benefit from some of the lessons that have been successful in my classes.

I'll try to upload lessons as soon as possible. Some of them were created by yours truly, but I should say that a lot of them were made possible with the great help of online resources. I will try to credit them when possible, but I do a lot of planning and sometimes I forget to jot down where the games come from. Below are the sites that I mainly frequent for resources. I'd like to thank all of the dedicated teachers who have shared their wonderful ideas and activities online.

www.eslcafe.com/ideas/ (a great site with games and also international job listings for TEFL teachers.)
www.tefl.net (a simple search engine for lesson plans and forums on specific topics)
www.eslflow.com (lots of worksheets by topic)
www.michellehenry.fr/ (take a long scroll and check out lots of resources on a specific topic)
www.breakingnewsenglish.com (news articles made easy with some activities)
www.bogglesworldesl.com/ (a lot of information gap activities and resources for young learners)
http://iteslj.org/questions/ (use this site if you need help coming up with conversation topics)
http://designerlessons.org (creative and unusual lesson plans)