Here, you can find a description of 40 educational games divided into four categories: movement games, vocabulary games, grammar games and ‘freeride’ improvisation games.
The aim of these short (5-15 minute) warm-up games is, primarily, to incorporate dynamics, movement and fun into the lesson. The games should be simple so that every student can manage and get inspired and motivated for future tasks. These games are suitable for the start of the lesson.
We have ranked them by order of increasing difficulty. Some approaches require almost no knowledge and others require the group to already possess minimal vocabulary.
The simplest game for attention. In the deck there are 11 cards depicting images of dogs. Students take turns drawing a card from the deck. Whoever sees the white dog first and shouts “white dog!”, keeps the card. The student who collects the most cards with the image of a dog wins.
Students sit in a circle. The teacher hands each student one card. NB! There must be two blank cards amongst those handed out. Everyone looks at their own card (no one shows their card to anyone). The teacher asks everyone to shut their eyes. Next, the teachers asks only those with blank cards to open their eyes. The two agents find each other using their eyes. After this everyone shuts their eyes and then opens them again. Next, the students walk around the class, greeting each other: they can ask questions such as ‘how are you? and ‘where have you been?’. The group tries to find the agents intuitively. Upon the teacher’s unexpected command “Contact!”, the two agents must swiftly stand back to back and the others must try to stop them.
Each student receives one card and everyone stands in a row with their backs to the wall. The teacher calls out a colour. The students’ task is to find an object of that colour on their cards. Whoever has that colour takes one step forward. Whoever has taken the most steps by the end of the game wins.
Students take turns demonstrating where their characters are through mime. The others must guess the place and name it.
The teacher divides the students into threes. The students decide who will play whom (who is the boy, who is the girl, and who is the additional object). The teacher draws a card, describes the details and finally exclaims “Photo in the studio!”. The task of the threes is to depict, through a collaborative statue, the ‘photo’ of what they have heard within 10 seconds and stand still.
The students are divided into threes. Each three receives a card and forms a statue depicting the location. The others must guess which location the statue represents. As an extension, each student can say who or what they were in the statue.
Each student receives 4-5 cards. The students, standing, are divided into pairs. The goal is to name 2-3 objects from your partner’s card within 7 seconds. One student shows their card first and then the second student shows theirs. If the student names the objects from the partner’s card, they take the card for themselves. After one round, the participants find new partners. Whoever has the most cards at the end of the game wins.
The students are divided into pairs. The pairs stand opposite each other 5 steps apart. So, there are two lines of students facing each other about 5 metres apart. One student from the pair receives a card. The student without a card calls out a colour. The second student finds an object of that colour on the card. If the student finds it, they name it. If the second student is able to name an object, this student takes one step towards their partner Everyone plays at the same time. Whoever reaches their partner the quickest is the winner. The students then swap roles.
The students sit in a circle. The teacher announces that the centre of the circle will now symbolically transform into some kind of space. Next, the teacher picks a card and calls out the location. For example, “We are at the museum!”. The students take turns to occupy the centre of the circle, forming a joint statue and naming their roles: who or what will they be at this location? Roles cannot be repeated. After this, as soon as everyone is in the centre, the game is restarted and the teacher picks a new card.
The teacher divides the students into pairs. The teacher places a table in the middle of the classroom and lays the cards on the table with the logo facing up. One of the students from each pair stands with their back to the table, facing their partner. Those standing at the table take one card each. Their task is to demonstrate, through mime, one (or two) of the verbs from the card so that their partner can guess the word. If the partner names the verb, the pair receive the card as a point for themselves. The pair to accumulate the most points wins.
The aim of these games is to strengthen the passive vocabulary of the group. The games motivate students to recall words that they know and to consolidate vocabulary learned in recent lessons.
In these games, the students pick out individual words from the cards, not yet forming complete sentences. The games are arranged in order of increasing difficulty.
The students sit in a circle and a set of cards is laid out on the floor with the pictures facing up. The teacher counts to 10 and, within that time, the students must get up from their chairs, find a card from which they can name 1-2 words and return to their seats. After this, the task is completed when the students show the teacher their cards and call out the words they know.
The students are divided into threes and 25-30 cards are laid on the table with the pictures facing down. The students look at the cards and take turns choosing one card. The student puts the card on the table. The student must name 1-5 words (depending on the level). If the words are named, the player keeps the card as a point. If not, the card is returned and mixed in with the rest of the deck. If you want to simplify the game, the cards can be laid out with the pictures facing up.
The students are divided into pairs. Each pair receives a set of cards, including cards without pictures. One player takes 3 cards – 2 with pictures and one blank. The blank card (which you will need to keep track of) is shown to the player’s partner. Next, the player flips all 3 cards so that the logo is facing up, shuffles them well, and lays them out on the table. The task of the partner is to guess where the blank card is. If they choose a card with a picture, they must name 2-6 of the objects from the card. If they choose the blank card, the shuffler draws one of the two remaining cards and must name 2-6 objects from the card.
The students are divided into threes. One of the students draws a card, looks at it and finds an object that they can name. After this, they flip the card over and call out the first letter of the chosen word. The other two players must find and name the word within 10 seconds. The guesser takes the used card as a point.
The students are divided into pairs. Each pair receives one card, a pen and a sheet of paper. Their task is to ‘upload this photo to Instagram’ by writing 5-7 hashtags (#) or keywords that describe the card on the paper.
The mechanics of this game are reminiscent of the famous game “Double”. The students are divided into fours. Everyone receives 5-7 cards. The youngest player lays one of their cards on the table. Next, the students look to see if they have the same objects on their cards as the card on the table. If they do, they call out the words and lay their card on top. Next, the task is to find duplicate objects on the new card in play and so on. This is a game of speed: the first player to get rid of all of their cards wins.
The students are divided into pairs. Each pair lays a card out in front of them. On the teacher’s count, they name one noun at the same time. If the players name the same word, they earn one point. It is important, of course, that the students playing the game do not agree on a special strategy, but name objects intuitively. For each card, the teacher gives the students 5-6 attempts. Then, the cards are changed.
The students are divided into pairs. Everyone takes one card. The goal is to intuitively guess one action from their partner’s card in 3 attempts. “Hmmm, I think that your card shows Olga working…”, “No!”. “Okay, I think that your card shows Kevin relaxing” and so on. If the player cannot guess the action in 3 attempts, the students reveal the location and action of the protagonist to their partner. Knowing the place will make it easier to guess the action.
The students are divided into threes and sit at a table. A deck of cards is laid on the table. One of the players takes a card, calls out one of the objects and passes the card around the circle. The next player must name any other object within 5 seconds. The card is passed around the circle until one of the players cannot name a word that has not already been named before. The loser may, as a symbolic punishment or warm-up, squat or jump once. After this, the loser draws a new card and the game continues. You can also make this a team game. Agree that the card must complete 4 full circles within 2 minutes for the team to win. The teacher then times all the teams simultaneously.
The students are divided into threes. The teacher suggests a letter for the first round. The task of the students is to take it in turns describing the locations shown on the card using only words that begin with the suggested letter. For example, the teacher states that, this round, we will play with the letter ‘B’. The student selects a card showing a picture of the forest. The task is to name words beginning with the letter ‘B’ which hint at this location: bush, birch, beetle, bramble and so on.
The grammatical structure of every language is unique. However, every language must have the means to convey important information: is the action happening now, did it happen in the past, or is it planned for the future? Every language must define the relationship between the objects in a given space with the help of prepositions, post-positions or other means.
As we study different languages, we learn to create question sentences, amongst other things, considering word order, auxiliary words, intonation and so on. In this section, we share universal games for practising grammatical language structures. The games are arranged in order of increasing difficulty. Because of their narrow focus, we cannot call some of these tasks games, but exercises.
Each student receives 5-7 cards. The student shows a card to their partner for 7 seconds and the partner’s task is to memorise the card as well as possible. After this, the card holder asks their partner simple questions. Is there a bird on the card? Is there a computer on the card? For each incorrect answer, the student must squat or jump once.
The students work in pairs, playing the optimist and the pessimist and predicting the outcome of the scenario depicted on the card, thus practising future tense constructions.
On every card there is a boy and a girl, which allows the students to consolidate third person verb forms (singular or plural). Divide the students into pairs and have one student narrate the girl’s actions and the other student narrate the boy’s actions. The game can be made harder by introducing 3 questions and restrictions: What is the young man doing? What is the girl doing? What are they doing? In addition, all the verbs must be different.
Work in threes. The students lay 3 cards in a row. They describe the events on the left-hand card using past tense, the events on the middle card using present tense and the events on the right-hand card using future tense.
Each card depicts a scenario. What questions do they ask each other? One student voices the questions of the girl and the other student voices the questions of the boy. They can also voice phrases in the imperative to practise direct speech.
Each card depicts a variety of objects and allows you to practise prepositions in pairs. One student asks questions:
— “Where is the bag?”
— “The bag is in the car!”
— “Where is the car?”
— “The car is on the street.” and so on.
For practising the past tense. The students are divided into pairs. The first student (the psychic) sits with their back to the table and the second student (the client) sits opposite the first. The teacher lays the cards face up on the table. The client is very interested in knowing who they were in a past life but they do not trust this psychic very much. So, to start with, they ask questions about the not-too-distant past: “Tell me, what was I doing yesterday/the day before yesterday/last month/10 years ago?”. After each question, the psychic chooses a card randomly from the table (during this game, the О&К cards turn into tarot cards) and describes the client’s past using the card. The question “What did I do in a past life?” comes last and the students switch roles after this question is answered.
The teacher reminds the students of the cases they have studied. The game uses 4-5 cases. The students take turns asking questions to practise cases and their endings (in their answers). If a student cannot answer the question within 20 seconds, they do one squat.
The players sit at the table. The cards are laid face down on the table. A student takes a pen and uses it to connect two cards. The second student flips the cards over and describes the path taken (where the characters came from, where they went, and where they are currently).
The students sit in a circle. The teacher shows them one card. The task of the group is to compose a story where each student can add only one word. Words can be added to a sentence in any order. Whoever cannot add a word must say ‘full stop’. The game allows students to consolidate word order in sentences and coordination of parts of speech in a relaxed rhythm.
The methods described earlier were an important preparatory step for these fun improvisation games. In order to study using these games, students must already possess a lexical and grammatical understanding of the language. The aim of these games is to give the students an opportunity to demonstrate the full extent of their linguistic creativity, devising action-packed stories and unexpected dialogues.
The students are divided into small groups. Each group receives a pack of cards. The cards are placed with the pictures facing down. The students come up with names for the protagonists. The first player lays a card on the table and begins to tell a story. After this, the second player draws the next card, lays it to the right of the first card and continues to tell the story started by the first student.
For this game you will need blank cards. The teacher puts the blank cards in the deck and shuffles it. The students are divided into threes. Everyone takes one card. They must not show their cards to other players. The task of the players is to tell the others what they can see on their card. If a player receives a blank card, they must come up with a story. The task of the listener is to decide whether the player is bluffing or telling the truth. When everyone has told their story, the players – in their groups of three – must count to three and point to the player who they believe to have the blank card. After this, all of the cards are turned with the picture facing up. For each blank card guessed correctly, the player receives one point.
The group is divided into pairs. One partner takes the role of optimist and the other takes the role of pessimist. After this, they take one card from the deck. One player sees only the good whilst the other sees only the bad. The task of the players is to convince their partner that they are right (2-3 arguments per person). Next, the players switch roles.
Before the game, the students create a list of words that they want to revise. The students are divided into twos. They draw one card and begin to tell a story using at least one word from their list (they can use more) in each sentence. For every card, the students can say 1-2 sentences and then the next card is drawn and so on. The words used are crossed out. Whoever crosses out all of their words first, wins the verbal duel.
Many teachers undoubtedly already know this game in which one student explains the word written on a card to the another student. In our version, the word on the card is not written but drawn. The student takes a card and describes the object to their partner until they manage to guess what it is. The cards are ‘encoded’ with 80 locations and each location contains a minimum of 7 objects. There are more than enough words to choose from.
The students are divided into threes. Each group of three receives one card. They are given 5 minutes to assign roles and come up with a dialogue. Next, the threes act out the roles of their protagonists, taking turns to improvise and show us the development of their scenario. At the start of the game, the students must assume the same poses as those of the protagonists on the card.
On every О&K card there is an image of a boy and a girl. Many cards look like photos. The task for students goes like this: imagine that a new acquaintance comes to visit you, takes the photo album from your shelf and asks you questions such as, “Where are you and who are you with? What were you doing there?” and so on. The partner takes 5 cards out of the deck, one by one. Next, the players switch roles.
The students are divided into optimists and pessimists. The first to choose a card is the optimist. They begin to tell a story about our protagonists using the phrase “fortunately…”. Next, the pessimist takes the second card and brings drama to the story by using the phrase “Yes, but unfortunately…”.
In a small group, the students receive all the cards, take the first card from the deck and lay it in the centre of the table. The first student takes a card from the deck and lays it to the right or left of the first card, justifying their move. The next student takes a card and decides when this event could have happened in relation to the other two – before or after – and so on. In this way, a coherent and logical О&K story is constructed.
In this game, the teacher plays the role of detective. The teacher distributes the О&К cards – one of them is blank. Next, the teacher gives the group one medium-sized item (a ball, a soft toy etc.). After this, the teacher leaves the classroom for 30 seconds. The student who received the blank card takes the object and hides it. It is important that the item is physically hidden on this student’s person (they can hide it under a sweater, sit on it, put it behind their back and so on). The teacher returns to the classroom and reports that someone has stolen the item and that everyone is a suspect. But the students have alibis: using their cards, they explain where they were and what they were doing. The student with a blank card must come up with an alibi. The task of the teacher is to decide who is bluffing and find the thief. In this game, it is necessary to maintain a certain sternness in order to create the right atmosphere.