Teaching Activities for Children

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We have hundreds of ESL teaching activities, language games and craft ideas for children. Come to this page if you teach kids and need free teaching resources.

 
 
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Ups vs Downs

This classroom game is so simple it's genius! For this game, you'll need 20 plastic or paper cups. Make a large space in your classroom and place the cups on the floor in a 4 x 5 grid.

Put 10 cups facing upwards and 10 cups facing downwards... 

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Balloon Volleyball

Clear a big area in your classroom and divide your students into two teams. Put a line of chairs down the middle of the classroom to divide it into two halves.

Have your students spread out on each side of the 'net' like two volleyball teams....

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Pass the Cabbage

We've all played pass the parcel at birthday parties or at Christmas, passing the gift around the circle with fast background music on and when the music stops, the person holding the gift must take a layer of wrapping off. This cool kids ESL game is a take on that, using printed pictures or written words as wrapping!

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Word Box

This is a fantastic review activity for your class and is perfect if you have an old cardboard box sitting around doing nothing in your house. Choose some key vocabulary which the class has been studying in the last few weeks.... 

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Hot Marker

The problem with Chinese Whispers, especially in China where I teach, is that children often try to get an advantage by shouting what the message is down to the front of the line, missing out half the line, rather than whispering the message from person to person. The children will 'win' the game, without practicing their English skills. 'Hot Marker' aims to stop this happening.

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The Ball & Sack

For this activity, you'll need a sack (any bag will do really), a ball of any size, bits of paper and a pen. A super-simple ESL review activity for a class of children. Before class, get a load of slips of paper and write questions on them appropriate to the level of your kids... 

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A Shark's Coming!

Many of you will be kindergarten or early primary teachers, and if so, then this classroom game or warmer is perfect for you. Your kids will also burn off some of their ever-lasting energy!

In 'A Shark's Coming!', the kids will be practicing hearing and thinking about numbers in English and also asking 'How many?' Your kids will not only need fast feet in this ESL game, but will also need to think fast!

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Draw the Sentence

This activity is ideal for slightly older kids and is better for smaller classes. If you have more than five or six children in your class, then you can simply divide your class into smaller groups.

The teacher writes down a sentence and the students need to alternate between drawing the sentence and writing the sentence. Once at the end of the line, the original sentence is compared to the sentence the students have created!

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The Human Buzzer Game Show

We've all stayed in on a Saturday night watching TV game shows, where the fastest finger buzzes in to answer the question for their big chance to win prizes or a holiday! This is where you can bring those big Saturday night game shows right into your ESL classroom!

Before class, prepare about 20-30 questions appropriate to the English level of your students, or on topics you've recently been studying.

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Balloon Bang

Balloons going bang! Sentence strips flying everywhere and kids scrambling on the floor to make sense of what's come out of the balloon...sounds like a recipe for a lot of fun in your classroom! 

During the week, pop into your local supermarket and grab a bag of regular balloons and bring them into your school. The idea is that, before blowing up the balloons and tying the knot, you'll be placing into the empty balloon some kind of written content.

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Running Dictation

Running dictation has been a staple activity for English teachers for many years, passed down from veteran teacher to TEFL teaching newbie since the dawn of time.

What makes running dictation so popular among English teachers and ESL students is because it practices all four main English language skills: reading, writing, speaking and listening.

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Draw the Job

Quite often during your English teaching career, you'll find yourself teaching a unit about jobs and occupations. If you're currently teaching a topic about jobs, then this ESL game will fit your class perfectly.

It takes about 20-25 minutes and allows your students to practice jobs and occupations vocabulary.

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Coin Flipper

This activity is especially for those classes where you're teaching kids how to tell the time. There's a few different ways you can put a twist on this game, but the basics remain the same. For this activity, bring in a few coins from home

For this activity, bring in a few coins from home. On the whiteboard, draw about 20 clock faces or so with different times like below.

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Wonder Words

There are several ways that you can run with this activity, depending on your teaching aims and the age / level of your students. In a nutshell, you'll be sticking a different letter on the back of your students and having them form words by standing in a line in the correct order. There are two variations here: one for younger children and one for older children.

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Tin Can Telephones

Long before the telephone was invented, people found that they could get two empty tin cans, attach them together using string and speak to each other over pretty long distances. These have become to be called Tin Can Phones and the chances are that you made one of these as a kid yourself. You can make a set of Tin Can Phones at home or in English class and have the kids practicing English words, sentences or short dialogues in a really fun way!