Transforming teaching and learning for the 21st Century

Games your learners will love


Pile of gamesIt’s been a very busy 3 weeks at school here in Spain! Exams have finished now though and things have finally calmed down.  We’re into the last week of the school year and, as usual, I’ve been raiding my kids’ games cupboard…

I’ll be taking some of my old favourites again to class and a couple of new ones that Santa brought this year.  All the games are widely available, however, if money’s tight at school (as it often is!) homemade versions can be easily created. Students could even do the creating themselves.

If you’re looking for games to play with your students here are some sure fire winners:

1.  Hedbanz

I used to play a version of this game when I was a student, with a post-it stuck to my head! In this version everyone wears a “headband” which has a card placed in it.  The card could be an animal, an object… You can’t see what you are but everyone else can. You have to ask questions to find out what’s on your card.  If the answer to your question is yes, you continue, if it is no, then play passes to the next person.  The first person to get rid of their 3 counters is the winner.  Advertised as “fun and educational”, it definitely is.  It practises deductive reasoning, listening and memory skills, great for revising vocabulary, question forms and looking very silly!

2.   Don’t say it

This is a version of taboo.  Players have to guess the word being described by their teammate. The player who is describing has a card with the target word and a list of words they cannot say. The good thing about this version is that there is a sliding door card holder which lets you choose the level of difficulty by hiding more or less “taboo” words (the words you can’t say when you describe your word) Also, cards are colour-coded depending on difficulty and have different values.  Instead of a sand timer, it comes with an electronic one which students seem to love as much as I dislike (call me old-fashioned!) Great for revising vocabulary, expressions for describing things (useful if you don’t know the word for something: It’s a kind of/It’s made of/It’s used for…) and developing fluency.

3.  Pass the bomb junior

This is probably the most popular of the five games with my kids and students (teens and adults alike) It’s fast and it’s furious (so much so that we’ve already broken one and had to buy another!) Players choose a card from the pack of everyday scenes e.g things in a bag, in the park, at the doctors… and have to say a word related to the scene whilst passing the bomb.  Play continues until the bomb explodes. The player who is holding the bomb when it explodes, keeps the card. The aim of the game is to have as few cards as possible. Great for recalling vocabulary and having lots of fun!  I have used just the bomb in class and invented my own games to practise vocabulary specific to class and structures we ahev been working on at he time.

4.  Brainbox

There are lots of versions of this game, Inventions, Space, The Environment, History, Sport, Around the UK… we have The World one.  Players have 10 seconds to study a card, they then roll the die which determines the question they must answer about their card. If they are correct they keep the card. The player/team with the most cards wins. This game revises question forms and vocabulary families and is great for expanding knowledge of the chosen topic.  They have a website where you can play sample games online.  They also have a blog with some interesting articles which could be used in lessons.

5.   Bananagrams

Split, dump, peel…what will you do? Will you be the rotten banana?  A “banana skin” full of letter tiles, players race to use all their tiles to build crossword grids. Students can play individually or in teams and there are various versions, banana smoothie, banana cafe, banana solitaire depending on how difficult or long you want to make it.

Games are great on many levels. Not only can we use them to develop linguistic skills, they are also a good way to develop 21st century skills; communication, cooperation, collaboration, teamwork… and, contribute to creating a positive learning environment in the classroom 🙂

I’m always looking out for new games to use with my students.  I’d love to hear what games you have used or regularly use in the classroom and how they have helped your learners.

Happy gaming!


Author: lisajwood

I am an English language coach and Neurolanguage Coach® I current teach adolescents and adults. My areas of interest include brain-friendly learning, flipped learning, student-centred learning and promoting lifelong learning skills. I am also a keen advocate of using new technologies to facilitate the learning process.

3 thoughts on “Games your learners will love

  1. Brilliang ideas! Here’s our blog about teaching in Spain :


  2. Pingback: Save time planning lessons with Google Docs | ACEnglishteacher

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