Published 10th November 2015

We all know kids love playing games, and kids don’t always like going to school. It’s logical, then, to incorporate games into our English lessons so as to keep the little ones motivated and attentive. There are loads of fun games for kids that are suitable for the classroom, but the trick is to make sure that you are not just playing games but that there is learning involved as well, which is easier said than done when you have a room full of 4-year olds screaming for Musical Statues.

For the really little ones, flashcards are an absolute winner. Since you are usually dealing with vocabulary or simple language items, flashcards are a great way to help the students visualise the language and so make it more memorable. Our top 5 flashcard games:

  • Fishing      –                       who knew attaching magnets to sticks and flashcards and trying to                                  “catch”            them could be so fun?
  • Memory game –                a classic
  • Fly Swat    –                       students race to the board to swat the correct flashcard (and often                                   each other)
  • The Running game –         flexible rules but generally involves running manically to the correct                                          flashcard which is displayed in a part of the room
  • Musical flashcards –          musical chairs with flashcards

When you get tired of flashcards – because your students never will – you can always turn to the more practical side of games. Children learn best with movement, colour and music, so putting together an art project can help them get to grips with concepts. Time, for example, is a great topic which can be extended by building clocks with paper plates and then playing games with those. A “zoo” can be made on the classroom wall with pictures of animals drawn by your students. Weather artworks can be made using colour pencils and materials like cotton wool or glitter.

Thinking about learners who are a little bit older, Hangman and Pictionary are always popular and provide great opportunities to revise vocabulary. Categories involve teams thinking of examples of categories within a time limit. Wordsearches and crosswords can entertain and stimulate for ages. It’s actually possible to turn most games into educational EFL games, so if you’re ever stuck for a game, think back to what you enjoyed when you were younger, and think how you can apply it to language learning.

On the whole, games are actually really good learning aids and can be very useful in the classroom. Once you have discovered which games your students enjoy, you can be sure they will be excited every time you decide to play them. If you’re ever in any doubt as to if a game will work or not, add in an element of competition and you’ll have them begging for more.