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Teaching Games

Want to use more games in class, but don't know how? Having trouble getting the kids to play properly? Check out this great guide on teaching games and help the kids have more fun when learning English.

Games are a great warm-up for the beginning of class, but they are best for reinforcing and practicing material that the students already know. Therefore it's best to play the game after introducing the grammar and vocabulary that they need in order to play.

First, pick a game which is appropriate for their age and English level. Usually simple is best, and try to pick games that don't have too many rules and can be easily understood even if the students don't know much English. If the game is too difficult some students may give up trying to understand and may begin to daydream or misbehave.

You have to also take your own classroom size and set-up into consideration as well. Games with lots of movement may be difficult if you room is full of desks and tables that the students may trip over. You have to either move all the desks before the game starts, or pick a game that requires less running around the classroom. It's also best to avoid running if there are large ages gaps between your students. Older children will accidentally knock smaller children over, and smaller children usually can't beat their older classmates if you pick games that involve moving quickly.

It's also best to set up the students so that they can all be involved in the game. Games where all the students play at once are usually the most effective. It's fine to play games where only two students can play at a time, but try to position the remaining students so that they can easily see what those students are doing. If they can't see what's going on they will become bored and begin to misbehave.

Here are some simple games that are already on this website.

Games you can play with most age groups

Card slap Game
Pointing Game
Keyword Game

For very small children

Colour Touch
Scary Flashcard Game

For older children

Moster Attack
Pass the pens
Fruit Basket
Criss Cross
The Price is Right
Rock Paper Scissors Battle
Secret Card Game

Some school may already have set games that they suggest you play, but sometimes the textbook writers are not teachers themselves, and they may not always be appropriate. If you can't understand how to play the game from the explanation in the guide, then its probably best to make it simpler or play something else.

Demonstrate the Game

Some students with low levels of English might not be able to understand if you only explain the rules, so the best way to explain the game is to slowly demonstrate it by playing once or twice before the class. If you have a co-teacher you can ask them to help you, or you can use one of the students at a volunteer. The rest of the students usually pay more attention to explanations if they see one of their classmates at the front of the class.

Make the students sit down to watch, and arrange the students so that they can easily see the game demonstration. If the students need to use worksheets or cards, use big copies for your demonstration so that the students can easily see.

You can also hand out the worksheets and materials to older students to help understand, but I advise you not to hand out anything to younger students. Younger students will just play with their worksheets and pens instead of listening to you, and it's best to make them clear their desks so that there's nothing which can distract them.

Here is an example of a game demonstration.

Explain the rules

The students will take any shortcut they can in order to win, so it's important to explain (or show) the rules and what they can or can't do. Also write the rules on the board if possible. You may have to introduce some sort of penalty, like the students loosing one point if they cheat.

Safety is also very important when playing games. Running is fun, and getting hurt is part of growing up, but parents and school managers usually aren't too impressed when the students fall over, even when it's completely the student's fault. Too many injuries can lead to parents pulling their kid from your class, or you getting into trouble with your managers.

Explain safety rules such as not running, avoiding dangerous objects, and pushing, before the start of every game. Also try and remove dangerous objects such as large heaters from the room too. If the students become rowdy and ignore the rules, immediately stop the game and explain them again. If the students continue to ignore the rules and hurt each other, finish the game and tell them that they can no longer play because they were doing dangerous things. They may become disappointed, but you can switch to using games with less movement in other lessons.

Some classes are full of students who behave terribly when playing games, but don't give up! Games are a great way to get the students engaged and help them to enjoy English, so keep trialing different games until you find one that they can enjoy!

Don't be afraid to change the game and make it better

If you have any ideas on to make the game better for the students, or encourage them to speak more, go for it! It's always great to trial new ideas, and you may stumble upon something that works really well.

Have any great games that you want to share? Feel free to post them in the forum here! http://kidsesl.proboards.com/board/11/great-games

Follow Kids ESL


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