Handshake Killer

How to Play: This fun ice breaker game is great for large groups. First, give the class a few questions they can ask each other - "How was your weekend/summer?" "What's your favorite _____?" "When's your birthday?" etc. Then, explain the game: The teacher will secretly choose one person to be the "killer". Everybody will walk... Continue Reading →


How to Carry Out Successful Class Games

Organization is key: If the students don't understand the game, it won't be fun. Be sure to explain all of the rules, the objective of the game and how to win. Demonstrate with 2 or 3 students before beginning.  For a lot of games, I number students from first to last on each team (usually based... Continue Reading →

Hit the Deck

How to Play: This is a fun camp-like game that works well with younger students (especially during gym class). Teach students a series of moves: "Hit the Deck": lay face down, flat on the floor "Pirate": one leg bent (peg leg), one hand over your eye (eye patch) and other arm curled onto your shoulder... Continue Reading →

Going to the Moon

How to Play: This game is about guessing a pattern or rule. In a small group (3-8 students is best), the teacher tells them that they're going to the moon. The teacher comes up with a pattern, for example, things that are yellow. So the teacher says "I'm going to the moon and I'm taking a... Continue Reading →

Using Playing Cards for ESL

I always bring a deck of playing cards with me to my private lessons. While we usually only use them around once a month, they're nice to use as a reward because kids love them. A lot of time is also spent explaining how to play, which practices listening and speaking skills. These are some... Continue Reading →

Name 5 Things

How to Play: This is an easy, simple game that's good to have in your back pocket if you need to fill a bit of class time. Put the students in small groups or in pairs with paper and a pen. The teacher says "Name 5 Things that are (see below for examples)" and the... Continue Reading →


How to Play: Students sit in a circle and each come up with a unique gesture (something simple and quick mostly utilizing their hands. For example, making "moose ears" or "dabbing"). The students each take turns showing the class their gesture and everybody mimics it. The teacher then teaches the students the "beat": SLAP, SLAP,... Continue Reading →


How to Play: Students stand in a circle with one person in the middle. This person will use their hands as a gun and "shoot" one person in the circle while shouting "BANG!". If the shot student ducks, they are safe. The two students on either side then turn to each other and "shoot" while... Continue Reading →

Zip Zap Zop

How to Play: This game is perfect for practicing pronunciation. Choose 3 words, i.e. "zip, zap, zop" (words that have the same starting letter work great) and have students practice saying these words repeatedly so it's almost like a tongue twister. Get them in a circle and start by clap/pointing at a student while saying "zip".... Continue Reading →

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