English Class at Camp : 10 Filler Games
Even the best planned lessons can run a bit short and you find yourself in front of a room full of students with five to ten minutes to go in class. Most of us will have that one game we can constantly pull out of our back pocket, but it might not always be relevant to the lesson.
Here are 10 filler ESL games that will keep the momentum of class going and put the English language to use in an amusing way.
True False Target Practice
Campers line up in two teams and you hand the camper at the front of each line a soft foam ball. They then have to listen to your sentences and throw their ball at the left side of the board marked “True” or the right side of the board marked “False” as quickly as possible. The first camper to hit the correct target gets a point for their team. After each statement hand the next camper in each line a ball and repeat.
Have the campers line up (or if you have enough campers, you might want to split them up into two lines), and whisper a sentence to the first camper, who will whisper it to the second and so on down the line. Each camper is only allowed to say it one time. Continue until the sentence is passed to the end of the line and see the end result of a chain of whispers.
Noughts and Crosses
Draw a grid and then put some flashcards in each square (or the base form of a verb if you have been working on grammar). Choose two campers to play. Flip a coin to see who goes first. Then in turns, the campers must give the correct word that relates to the flashcard in a square (or conjugate a verb in the correct tense). If they are successful, they can steal the square and put a nought or cross in it. The next camper gets to try and do the same and you continue the game until someone has hit three noughts or crosses lined up or it’s a draw.
On the board write out your target vocabulary, expressions or conjugated verbs. Ask for two volunteers and hand them each a fly swatter (or a ruler). Then describe the word, expression or base form of the verb and the first camper to swat the word/phrase gets a point. The first camper to three or five points wins (or you can simply play a few rounds without keeping score before switching to other campers).
Have your campers work individually or in pairs to unscramble words that you write on the board. While this can be a good way to revise the vocabulary you covered today, try and use some vocabulary that you covered earlier in the session, or some common English words that you feel they would know.
The A to Z game
Give campers a theme, for example, animals, food, countries of the world. Write the letters A to Z on the board. Split the campers into groups of three to five campers and have them copy the list from the board onto a sheet of paper. In their groups campers must try to write an appropriate word next to each letter on the board. Write their answers on the board and give your own prompts and answers when needed.
Divide the class into two groups, or play in pairs. Have them line up at the board, with one marker per group. As soon as you say a word, the first camper will write one letter, then pass the marker to the next camper to write the second letter, and so on. The first team or pair to correctly spell the word gets a point.
Give an initial word, for example, dog and each student takes it in turns to say a word which they associate with the previous word. If the connection isn’t obvious, challenge the student to justify their choice. dog – ball – kick – karate – belt – hat …
This can be used to revise the vocabulary you have covered that day, but you can also add vocabulary covered earlier in the session as well. Depending on their age and level, you can either ask for a volunteer and the campers as a groups must try to guess the answer or they can be divided into teams. Write your vocabulary on a piece of paper and show it to the camper, before they act out the word. If playing as a group, the first camper to guess right can come up and try next, or if playing in teams award a point to the team that guessed right.
The Longest Word
Write a topical target word vertically down the board, for example, STAR. In twos or threes, campers attempt to come up with the longest word that begins with each letter. Give teams a point per word and a bonus point for the longest.
The Jumping Game
Get campers to stand in a line/ queue in front of the board. Write ‘Yes’ on one side of the board and ‘No’ on the other. Ask campers questions about themselves or a topic that you covered in class. Depending on their answer, campers jump to the left or the right.
Make sure to think about the age and level of English of your campers when picking a filler game to use. Some of these will work great with younger learners but be a flop with teens. I hope you find these games as useful in the classroom as I did!