Young Learners classroom games: word battleship, snakes and ladders.

24th August 2020

I’ve spent so much time reading books about classroom activities, looking at websites and blogs only to reject the vast majority as not being suitable for my level of students. Here are a couple of games that have been successful over the years, in different centres and with different ages, though I usually employ them with students aged between 6 and 10. Adapt them as you wish, and have fun.

Word Battleship

This is based on the old paper and pencil game (later upgraded for the electronic and computer age).

Oversized Battleship Game
ABCD
1
2
3
4
Word Battleship

Board a grid as above (add more cells as required). Put the class into teams.

[I let them choose their own names, and if a student says, ‘Errrrrr,” then that’s the name I give them … additionally, this always gets a laugh]

Ask the teams questions based on previous lessons, general knowledge, whatever suits your class. You could either elicit an answer from the team as a whole, or individual members.

If the student answers correctly, they are allowed to choose a cell, example “C3.” On a separate sheet, have the same grid with scores assigned to each square. In the example that follows, C3 would score 25 points.

The following questions were used to review past tense grammar, as well as forming collocations:

Put the sentences into the past tense (simple past). Say complete sentence.

1 Last week we learn about technology

2 I buy a new iPhone last night.

3 Michael Jackson write many good songs.

4 Oh, no … I do not do my homework !

5 Have they decide what printer to buy ?

6 He see all the ‘Avengers’ films in one day !

7 It’s Friday ! I think today was Wednesday !

8 On holiday, I walk along the beach.

9 My grandmother send me an email.

10 Have you play the new video game ?

Complete the collocation

11 (go) to the cinema [I _______ to the cinema]

12 (play) guitar

13 (take) a photo

14 (chat / go) online

15 (do) voluntary work

16 (make) a decision 

ABCD
12550105
2102510025
35010255
45251050

Snakes and ladders

The Timelessness of Snakes and Ladders | by Doug Bierend | re:form ...

Another activity based on a classic game. I first used this in a very energetic class of 9 – 11 year olds and, thanks to the size of the room, I was able to draw a grid on the floor and use students as ‘counters’, to move around the ‘board’.

If that isn’t possible, just board a grid like so:

STARTGO FORWARD 2
GO BACK 1
GO FORWARD 1
HA HA
BACK TO START
GO BACK 3FINISH

All you need is a die or dice and different colour board markers. As before, arrange the class in teams, then ask each team a question. The student who answers then throws the die (preferably NOT at the teacher but one thing at a time), and I chart their progress on the board. You can decide whether or not the students need an exact score to land on Finish or not … play it by ear.

[ ‘dice’ is generally accepted for both singular and plural. For English-language learners it’s probably better to use ‘dice’.]

Culturally Responsive Teaching: A Guide

Young Learners, Level 2: Group work and review.

21st August for 25th August 2019. Everybody Up 2, U 7 L2

This is an early morning class, and quite typical; one or two very good girls, one, possibly two good boys. The rest range from those who cannot speak without shouting at the top of their voices (the Vietnamese, bless them, are not the quietest nation on Earth), those who pay attention to anything save the lesson, and those who are so inactive and immobile as to be positively catatonic.

One way to counter this negativity is to make the lessons more kinetic, more active, though the size of the class and the dimensions of the room are not conducive to much activity. It is also important to realise that these are children, ‘forced’ to come to extra school on their weekend, and their motivation levels plummet from, “Please teach me English,” to “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn … I REALLY don’t give a damn.”

We recently had a project activity, cutting out and colouring a room. This proved quite successful, and even those who are permanently seated, chin in hand, yawning thick and fast, were engaged and doing something. So, today, I’m going to mix things up a little. We’ll start by rearranging the chairs into islands of four, as opposed to the traditional horseshoe arrangement.

Warm Up: A quick game. I’ll give each island a board and marker and I’ll review the last lesson, ‘time’. I’ll call out a time and the students have to write it, in figures. This can be extended to cover other lessons, including basic maths (to practise the use of the words ‘plus’, ‘minus’, ‘times’ and ‘divided by’. Also, for general knowledge, do they know any countries where English is spoken (as first language) ? What countries are there in Asia … Africa … South America ? Then look at this picture for 30 seconds. Write down what you remember. I’ll be listening for adjectives as well as nouns, and encourage the use of full sentences, e.g. I see a big white mirror, I see a small green cupboard etc.

Image result for bedroom in anime film

Now I’ll go straight into bookwork, subject ‘meals’. Here, I’ll follow a standard school lesson plan:

Show the four flashcards and review as a class, especially pronunciation, then pass them one by one around. First student (make sure said student is a top cat, or the activity goes down like a lead Zeppelin) takes the card, says the word, then passes to the next … after the third student has spoken, introduce a new card to the first student and so on.

Next, a run ‘n’ write. Two students must run to the board and write one of the new words. For the top cats, they can write two words, or even all four.

There are four pictures, but I prefer to say the words myself rather than play the audio (which is often a monotone, transatlantic drone). Students shout out (this class like shouting, to a fault !) the words.

Grammar structure – focus on the key sentence – have students repeat.

Book work, page 66. Elicit information about the pictures, just try to get the students speaking English as much as … Encourage them to ask each other. Use a top cat to start e.g. “What do you see in picture 2 ?”, “What are they doing here ?”, “What time is it in picture 3 ?” etc.

This should take us up to break time, with drilling and substituting pronouns, noticing how the verb changes i.e. I eat breakfast at 7:00, He eats breakfast at 7:00.

After break, in their gangs of four or threes, I’ve prepared an activity sheet; some questions, some things to do, some information to gather, something that requires the students to listen:

Everybody Up 2  Activity sheet

1) Write five buildings that you find in a city

2) Write three words that begin with th … / ch … / sh … / wh ….

3) On a clock, show:  10.15 / 2.30 /     quarter to five

4) Draw a picture of your bedroom. What do you have in your room ?

5) Tell me three things you like to do after school.

6) Draw a girl wearing a yellow hat, pink coat, green pants and blue boots.

7) Draw a bald man playing guitar wearing an orange jumper and black pants.

8) What does Teacher Paul like ? Write two things ?

9) What are the five senses ?

10) A doctor works in a hospital.    Write a sentence.

Where does a teacher work ? / Where does a cook work ?

11) Look at the picture: Which flag is which country ?

Brazil / South Korea / Canada / Egypt

12) What do you eat for breakfast ?  When do you eat Breakfast ?

13) What did Mr Mark eat for breakfast ? Did he like it ? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=crPVJ3CXs1g&list=PL97HViQblvdEM3zsauRxnIg1baFTNmsDM&index=20&t=0s

What words did he use ?  Can you smile like him ?

And then … work books, work sheets and the bell … and only two more classes !