More Hands-on Activities and Games for Teaching English


Students learn in a variety of ways, so it is important to teach using multiple methods. Teaching English with hands-on activities and games can help language students learn and practice new vocabulary, grammar, ideas, and concepts.

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Hands-on activities and classroom games encourage creativity, communication, and collaboration. If students are working with partners or in small teams, they have to collaborate and communicate to complete the task. Students can practice their English speaking skills.

Click Here for Step-by-Step Rules, Stories and Exercises to Practice All English Tenses

Click Here for Step-by-Step Rules, Stories and Exercises to Practice All Tenses

In our first article in this series, we described seven activities to engage your students in learning English. You can read that article here: Hands-on Activities for Teaching English.

Incorporating hands-on activities into your lesson plans is key to reaching a variety of students.

Here are seven more simple activities and games to get students moving and learning in the English classroom. These activities can be used by teachers, parents, tutors, study groups, and home-school teachers to
help English language students learn and practice new vocabulary, grammar, and comprehension.

Parts of the body

This is an easy game for reviewing parts of the body in English.

The class will be divided into small groups of three to four students. Before class, make sets of word cards using note cards or sticky notes. Write one body part on each card. Make one set for each group. If you use note cards, you will also need tape for each group.
 
Divide your class into small groups of three or four students. Each group gets one set of cards. One student in the group is the model, and the other group members will attach cards to the correct body part of the model. Set the timer for about 5 minutes. When the time starts, the other group members stick the cards to the correct body part on the model.

 body parts

When time is up, the teacher can check cards for each group. Read all of the cards out loud and award one point for each correct answer. Students enjoy this activity, and there will be lots of laughs!
 

Move to music

This is a great way to get students out of their chairs and communicating. Teachers can use this activity with any topic and at any time with little preparation.

woman dancing

The instructions are simple. When the music begins, the students get up and randomly walk around the classroom. When the music stops, students turn to their nearest classmate to discuss a topic or answer.
 
I like to use this activity with discussion questions. I ask a question, then turn on the music. As students are walking, they can think about their answer. When the music stops, they find their partner and discuss the answer.
 
This is also a great icebreaker activity for a new class. When the music stops, students take turns introducing themselves and answering questions given by the teacher.


Sound chain / Phonic chain

This is an easy way to review phonics and letter sounds. The whole class sits in a circle. One student says a word. The next student must say a word that starts with the last sound of the previous word. To make this more difficult, choose a topic or category for all the words: boy’s names, animals, things found in a classroom, etc.
 
Example

Topic: things found in a kitchen

kitchen
 
Student 1: knife (ends with f sound)


Student 2: food (begins with f sound; ends with d sound)


Student 3: drinks (begins with d sound; ends with s sound)


Student 4: soap (begins with s sound; ends with p sound)


Student 5: pan (begins with p sound; ends with n sound)
 
Continue around the circle until everyone has contributed or until you run out of words. For a variation, you could eliminate students when they can’t think of a word and the final student playing is the winner. Scoring is optional.
 

Twenty questions

This is a fun game for intermediate and advanced students. It is an easy way to review questions and vocabulary. To play 20 questions, one person (the player) thinks of an object, and the rest of the class can ask 20 questions in an effort to guess what it is. The player must tell the class the category (person, place, or thing). Optional: The object must be in sight.
 
question mark

The class asks the player questions that can be answered with "yes", "no", "sometimes", or "I don’t know." Students can guess the mystery object at any time, but that counts as one of the 20 questions. The winner is the student who correctly guesses the object, or if nobody correctly guesses, then the player wins.
 

The traveling game 

This activity is a fun way to review vocabulary and the alphabet while practicing sentences. This game is known by many names including "the shopping game," "I took my basket shopping," "I packed my suitcase," and "camping trip." You can use any version of this game to review vocabulary in many topics. The words don't necessarily have to make sense with the category. 

family traveling
 
Player 1: I’m taking a trip, and I’m going to pack an apple.

Player 2: I’m taking a trip, and I’m going to pack an apple and a book.

Player 3: I’m taking a trip, and I’m going to pack an apple, a book, and a cap.

Player 4: I’m taking a trip, and I’m going to pack an apple, a book, a cap, and deodorant.
 
Continue around the circle, using the entire alphabet.

Letter Aletter Z
 
For variations, use sentences in different tenses and different subjects.
 
  • Yesterday, I went shopping and bought a…

  • Tomorrow, I will go shopping, and I will buy…

  • Last year, I traveled to Australia and brought back…
 

Fun with synonyms: guess the word

Use this activity to review vocabulary and practice synonyms. Give each students note cards or sticky notes and 1-3 vocabulary words from the unit you wish to review. Students must write down the word and 4-5 synonyms on the card.

Then, students will read the synonyms on their cards, and the rest of the class will guess the vocabulary word. For a variation, the teacher can read the synonyms and students can write the vocabulary word, or you can play in teams. As the teacher reads the synonyms, the first team to buzz in and answer with the correct word wins a point!

Examples:


Teacher

professor
educator
instructor
tutor

House

home
residence
dwelling
homestead

 

Vocabulary Bingo

Bingo is an easy and fun way to review vocabulary and can be used with any topic. You can find printable blank Bingo boards online or have your students draw their own (usually 5 squares X 5 squares but can be any size you wish).

Give your students a list of vocabulary words. They use the words to fill in their Bingo boards, leaving one or two free spaces (not in the same row).

BINGO
foothandkneeshouldertoes
fingerspalmtoenailnoseears
hairtongueFREEeyesforehead
stomachbackelbowarmlips
fingernailbeardankleshincheek
 
 
You will also need markers. If you plan to re-use boards, students can use small objects such as candy, pennies, or dried beans as markers. If the boards are only used one time, students can mark the words with a pen or pencil.
 
After the Bingo boards are completed, the teacher reads definitions for vocabulary words as the students cover the correct word with a marker. The first student to complete an entire row
(vertical, horizontal, or diagonal), yells, "Bingo" and wins. You can continue to play until more students win or start over.
 
This game could also be combined with Fun with Synonyms after students create their synonym cards.
 
 

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