Game progression here is defined as slowly increasing the complexity of the games and activities after every class. The first time you play a game or activity you are mostly focused on introducing the rules and how to play it. The second time you can add a few extra commands. The third time you can add some responses that you want students to say to your commands. Once your students have a good grasp of all the English that you use in an activity or game you want to slowly increase the difficulty and complexity of that game. With most games and activities you can do this quite easily.
It’s important to remember that some games can’t be played with the younger students. The young students simply don’t have the self-discipline or listening skills to play certain games without the classroom breaking out in chaos. You will notice that each activity and game will have an “appropriate age”.
Card games are probably the most versatile and easiest way to create activities for your children. You need two sets of cards. One set would be small postcard size cards or even half of a postcard. The other set will have the same vocabulary words as the first set but simply on bigger paper. Usually A4 size paper. When you get these cards it is a great idea to laminate them and keep them organized. If you don’t do this you’re going to be constantly making new copies because the kids will tear the cards up. Also, if you don’t keep them organized then you’re going to be spending way too much time looking for cards and trying to find complete sets out of a box of 600 or 700 different cards.
With these two sets of cards there really are an unlimited amount of activities that you can do with your class. You can do simple vocabulary activities. You can do phrases. You can even do questions and responses. But the basic idea is to not keep your kids in front of a textbook but have them moving around and using the English and make the class fun.
These cards can also be used when simply introducing new words or phrases to a large group of kids. If possible make these cards color. While black and white is fine the color really grabs the kids’ attention.(link out to child article)
I have a very simple activity that I like to start my classes off with. For this article it will simply be called “Student Entrance”. It’s really simple and I think it helps get the children ready for English class. You simply have all of the students line up outside of the classroom, then one by one they come up to the door and say “May I come in?” For the first student, the teacher will respond “Yes, you may”. Then the student enters the classroom and turns to face the next student. The next student will say “May I come in?” and the previous student will answer “Yes, you may”. Then that student will go and sit down and wait for the rest of class. You continue like this through the whole class.
The first time you teach this it will take a few minutes. The kids are used to it; often they have problems standing in the line. But after you’ve done this for five classes it becomes easy. And it shouldn’t take more than a minute. You can also replace the phrases to practice other phrases and questions.(link out to child article)
The color game is a very simple and easy game that teaches the various colors in English. It’s so easy and simple that I like to do it almost every class I have. It really doesn’t take more than two or three minutes. The game is simple, the teacher will say one color, in this case let’s go with “blue”, and then the students have to find an object in the classroom that is blue. That object can be pretty much anything, it could be the student’s clothing, it could be a picture on the wall, whatever. When the students find the color they have to touch it. They must continue touching it until you say the next color. After most of students have found “blue”, the teacher will say the next color, “pink”. Again the kids go looking for an object that is pink. Easy. Simple. Fun.(link out to child article)
Picture books specifically written for young English students are an essential tool for any English teacher. Picture books can be a great way to calm down a class that is too hyper or has become too chaotic. If done correctly they can have an almost TV like affect where the children will sit down and be quiet while looking at the picture book.(link out to child article)
Songs like picture books are a very important tool for any English teacher. Songs provide a fun activity and also the process of singing a song gives students an easy way to practice various vocabulary words and phrases. With young children it is very important to have specific gestures to go along with the lyrics. Generally a song would go like this:
“Head, shoulders, knees, and toes” (With both hands touch your head, touch your shoulders, touch your knees and touch your toes with the lyrics)
“Knees and toes” “knees and toes”
“Eyes and ears and mouth and nose”
“Head, shoulders, knees and toes”
I have met many English teachers who absolutely dislike songs. I think that generally most of these teachers don’t feel comfortable singing and dancing in front of little children. Many teachers feel it’s demeaning. I personally have used songs but recently I use them sparingly. Usually when I feel that my classes have become a little stale and I want to mix things up I’ll throw in a couple songs or two. Songs are similar to games or picture books in that it takes a few lessons for the children to get familiar with the songs. Once they’re familiar with them they’ll sing along with you and do the various gestures. This is where they start to learn the vocabulary words. I have found that songs are good for teaching some difficult vocabulary words. Many teachers use them to teach the days of the week, names of the months, and body parts. You will have to find a specific CD that is created for English teachers and their classes.(link out to child article)
I call this game the Drill Sergeant . This has been my mainstay warm-up activity for many years now. The basic objective of this game is to teach the kids various commands and to improve their listening skills. The game goes basically like this:
I will start with a basic set of 10 to 15 different commands. Things like “sit down, stand up, walk, run, swim, jump, write a bicycle, play baseball, etc.” I will have the class stand up and I will start saying commands. I will randomize the commands and the students have to follow my commands. Very simple. I know some teachers that will actually use the phrase “Simon says” but I have found this to be confusing for some students. I think the simple command is more than enough.(link out to child article)
“Talk time” is something that I do in every one of my classes. Usually after my warm-up I will have all the students sit down in a group. Then I will sit in the chair in front of the group and call out individual students. The students come to the front of the group with me and there I ask them some simple questions. The questions are things like:
What’s your name?
How old are you?
Nice to meet you
What food do you like?
Can you write a bicycle?
If the student can’t correctly answer the question then I will help them reply. Usually I will choose three or four students to do this. It depends on the age but I will ask anywhere from 3 to 6 questions.(link out to child article)
The English Road
The “English Road” game or sometimes I call it the “English Street” game. This is a game where you use the larger A4 sized cards that we previously talked about. After you have introduced around 30 to 40 different vocabulary words to your students you can use this game as a great way to review. Really it’s basically multiple-choice listening test disguised as a game. Take all of the cards from the vocabulary words that the students learned before. Then place four of the cards next to each other. Behind these four cards you are going to do it again. Place four cards. Leave a little bit of space between the two groups of four cards. Enough space for a child to stand. Do this until you have around 10 rows of four cards. When you get done it should look like a little street or road. Then you have each student start at the first row, you voice one of the cards, then the student has to choose which card you said and step in front of it. If they are correct then you continue to the next row. If they are wrong then they are out and you bring in the next student. Very simple easy way to create a listening test for your students.(link out to child article)
“Find it” is a simple card game where one group of students will hide small cards in various places in the room and another group has to come in find the cards, bring the cards to the teacher and voice what is on the card.(link out to child article)
Pick It Up
“Pick it up” is a very good game for teaching your kindergarten students various vocabulary words. It is also a great listening exercise as well. Without a doubt this is one of my favorite games/activities when teaching kindergarten classes.
The basic setup is very simple; you take some A4 sized vocabulary cards and go over them with the class. Then you separate the class into four different teams. Place a picture book in front of each team. Then take all of the previously reviewed vocabulary cards and start placing them on the ground between the four teams in the middle of the classroom in various places. Make sure the cards are all face up. Then call out “next” and have the first student of each team stand in front of the picture book. Then call out one of the “vocabulary cards”. The students have to find the vocabulary card and pick it up. When a student picks it up they have to show it to the rest of the class while saying the word on the card. Then they take the card back to their team and place the card on the picture book that is placed in front of the team. That student goes to the end of the line and the next student stands in front of the picture book. Repeat this until all of the cards have been picked up.(link out to child article)
This next game is a little limited in scope but is a lot of fun for the kids and can be used to review numbers, months of the year, and days of the week. You simply take a balloon, blow it up, and demonstrate the following in front of the kids. Every time you hit the balloon in the air you have to say a number. So the first time you hit it you say “one”, then the next time you hit it you say “two”, you continue to do this until a certain number. For the younger kids I like to do one to 10. For the older kindergarten kids I like to do 0 to 20. Once that becomes easy for the students you concert mixing it up and count by tens, so “10, 20, 30, 40, 50” or you can count by hundreds, “100, 200, 300, 400” or you can just choose a random number to start with, “41, 42, 43, 44, 45”. You can also do this with months of the year or days of the week in the same way. It certainly is not the most flexible game but the kids will get very excited about it and it’s always a good idea to practice numbers with the children. You can always add in an extra balloon so one child has to do to balloons at once. You could also do groups of two students with one balloon.(link out to child article)
UNO is popular card game that is played around the world. The rules are pretty simple. Everyone gets seven cards; the object of the game is to get rid of all of your cards. The cards themselves have four different colors and a number from 0 to 9. There are a couple of other special cards, “Skip” card, “reverse” card, “take two” card and “wild” card as well. You can find a set of UNO cards just about anywhere and they are pretty cheap too. This game will not become one of your major activities because in essence you’re just practicing colors and numbers and in order to play the game the children usually have to be around six years old. But there are a lot of commands that the students must learn to play the game, and whenever I have my kids playing the game I impose an “only English” rule. If the students speak a word of their native language then they have to take an extra card.(link out to child article)
Shootout! is a game I made because I realized that many of my kindergarten students could understand various vocabulary words when spoken but they could not reproduce them on their own. I felt like the students needed to practice verbalizing what they had learned in previous classes more.
The game itself is very simple. Take your A4 sized vocabulary cards that the students had learned in previous lessons. Mix them all up. Then separate them into two different piles. Next, split the class up into two lines. Each line is facing each other with a decent amount of space in between the two teams. Put down a picture book you are not using in front of each team so that the kids will know where to line up at. Have the first kid in each line sit in front of the picture book. Then in front of the child put one of the piles of the A4 sized vocabulary cards. These piles should be facedown so that the students cannot see which card is on top. Then, when you say “go!”, both students have to flip over the first card in their pile. The students then have to quickly say the card that the other student just flipped over. So here they are not saying what card they flipped over. They have to say the card that the other student flipped. The student that says the card the fastest is the winner and they get to take both cards for their team. Then the teacher says “next” and the previous students go to the end of their team’s respective lines and the next students sit in front of the picture book and do everything again.(link out to child article)
The newspaper game is a fun way that you can use to teach the students how to play “rock, paper, scissors”. While the English that they learn playing this game is slightly limited the ability to be able to play “rock, paper, scissors” is really invaluable. With all of the other games you will have situations where two children disagree on the outcome of the game. Perhaps they both pick up the card at the same time, maybe they both want to be the leader, whatever the problem is you can always use “rock, paper, scissors” to try and defuse the problem in a fair way.
This game is very simple; first get yourself a newspaper (extra points for an English newspaper). Have the students make a single line. Hand each student a page from the newspaper. Have the students lay the newspaper on the ground. Tell them to stand on the newspaper. Now demonstrate how to play “rock, paper, scissors”. Explain to the students that if they lose or “tie” with the teacher then they must fold their newspaper in half. If they win then they can keep the newspaper as it is. The children are playing against you not each other. Every time you play the game make sure that the children are saying out loud “rock, paper, scissors” while they are moving their hands up and down. After doing this for a couple of turns some of the students will have folded their newspapers in half so many times that they cannot stand on the newspaper without touching the carpet. The students are “out”. Have them sit down. Then continue until there is only one or two students left.(link out to child article)
Where are you?
The “where are you?” game is another game that has a little English value to it but the children seem to love it so I often use this game as a reward for good behavior. Basically the game is a version of the pool game “Marco, polo”.
Explain to the children what “Where are you?” means. Here you can use their native language if you want to. Then tell them that every time you say “Where are you?” they have to respond with “I’m here.” Then take out a hat, or a T-shirt, or anything that will cover up your eyes. Put it on so that you cannot see what is directly in front of you but you can see down near your feet (this is so that you don’t trip over yourself). Tell the students that if they are caught by you they will be “out”. There are three rules to this game; the first rule is that they have to reply with “I’m here” every time you ask the question “Where are you?” The second rule is that the children cannot run. The third rule is that the children cannot push each other. Tell them that the game will start now. Start by asking the question “Where are you?” Hopefully the students will respond correctly with “I’m here”, then start to move towards where you heard their voices. Of course the children can move away from where you are going to not get caught. Try to reach out to where you think the children might be standing. If you touch any of the children they are out. Continue to ask the question as made times as you want and when finally there is only one student left the game is over, that student has won.(link out to child article)
There are many more games and activities that you can use in your kindergarten classes but these listed above have been very effective and the students love them. Try experimenting in your own classes. Try a new game, change it up a little bit and see how the students respond. If it works , great, use it. If not, try another game.