Finding Inspiration for ESL Games

I am a firm believer that the amount of effort you put into teaching directly corresponds to how much your students will get out of your class, and how much you will enjoy your job. 

For that reason, I put a lot of work into preparing my lessons. It is my hope that, at the end of the day, my students will walk away having learned something and having enjoyed themselves. 

Like many teachers, I use the internet to find new activities for my class. It is amazing to have a community of teachers willing to share their most effective teaching methods right at your fingertips. However, I think each teacher has something to offer of their own. For that reason, I like to create my own games.

Homemade games are a great way to combine your interests, past experiences and creativity. The inspiration for my games comes from a number of places. Some games have been inspired by my childhood,

some by my favorite board games and others by my hobbies. All it takes to create a game is a little inspiration and the will to make it relatable to English education. 

Below, I have listed some of my favorite homemade games, and my inspiration behind them, in the hopes that they will encourage you to use your own creativity to better your class.

Don’t Drop the Ball!

The Game: The kids spread out around the classroom, and I draw circles around each student. They cannot step outside of their personal circles. Then, they throw a giant plush dice to each other. When the dice falls, the children must repeat the chosen vocabulary word five times in unison.

Inspiration: During high school, I was very serious about pursuing theatre as a career. So much so, that my parents enrolled me in a summer camp to learn how to audition for university theatre programs. One of the classes, at this camp, was movement. In this class, we played a game, similar to hot potato, where you had to throw a small ball to each other. When the ball hit the ground, we had to do twenty push-ups in unison.

Face

The Game: First, I draw a circle on the whiteboard. This circle is a face. Then, each student takes turns answering a question or saying a word and drawing one piece of the face. They can only draw one thing except if that thing comes in pairs (ex. Eyes, ears, horns…). The result is usually ugly and somewhat horrifying.

Inspiration: I come from a very artistic family. My grandfather is an artist, and my mother is an all around crafty person. During my childhood, my mom liked to entertain my sister and I, at restaurants, by having us play this game. The game could go on for a long time with each of us thinking of new things to add.

Hungry Hungry Students

The Game: I start by drawing a large circle onto the floor. This is the arena, so to speak. Then I divide the class into two teams and have them sit on either side of the circle. Inside the circle, I place crumpled up pieces of paper with words written on the inside. One member from each team gets an empty tub. When I say “Go!”, they need to hold the tub with two hands and gather all the paper balls inside without removing their hands or receiving help from their team. When all the paper balls are collected, each team opens and reads the words and receives points for the number of words they can read correctly.

Inspiration: A while back I remember reading an article about a group of people who created a life-sized version of the game Hungry Hungry Hippos. For those of you who are not familiar with this, it is a popular American tabletop game where each player tries to collect as many marbles as possible with a tiny plastic hippo. In the life-sized version, players roll their friend on a rolling cart while their friend collects balloons using a giant cardboard box.

I hope this article has encouraged you to think outside the box for inspiration for games. If not, at least I have provided you with three new game ideas to try in your class.

I would love for you to share your games and the inspiration behind them in the comments section below. 

Let’s create a community where we can share our creativity with others!

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