husband and I teach at a public primary school in Shenzhen, China.
While the children are adorable and hilarious, teaching English to
little kids can be challenging for several reasons.
they have an overwhelming amount of energy. Second, they have short
attention spans. The younger they are, the more often we have to change
activities to hold their interest. Third, there are 50 to 60 students in
our classes, so we need to find activities that engage all of them.
Fourth, I teach grades 1 and 2, so my pupils haven’t learned how to
write in English yet. As a result, the exercises I can do with them are
you are a primary school teacher, you may find yourself facing similar
obstacles. After teaching for 6 months, my husband and I have found
several games our little learners enjoy that are also consistently
effective instructional tools. Here are 8 of our favorites.
1. Coloring pages
the second term, my grade 1 and 2 students learn colors. Every once in a
while, I give them coloring pages with images of their vocabulary
words. Then I tell them to color each image a certain color. For
example, I say, “Color the blouse pink,” and “color the dress red and
yellow.” They are able to review their colors and practice their new
they finish coloring an image, I call on one individual at a time to
practice the target words. Grade 1 students just have to say something
simple, such as, “It’s green!” For grade 2, I make things a little more
difficult. Last week they had to say complete sentences using colors and
clothes. For example, “I have a red and yellow dress.”
2. Hide and Seek
Print pictures on sheets of paper. Show the first picture to the entire class and call on one child to identify the image.
kid comes to the front of the classroom and closes their eyes while you
hide the paper under a book on another student’s desk.
first student has to find the sheet of paper. They do so with the
entire class’s help. They must say, “Flower, flower, flower …” The
closer the seeker gets to the hidden paper, the more loudly their
classmates chant the vocabulary word. Hide and Seek is a fun way to have
the entire class repeat and memorize vocabulary words!
3. The Bomb Game
the students into groups and let them compete! Roger’s ESL PowerPoints
offers some free Bomb Game templates, which you can adjust to your
class’s vocabulary. Give each team five points at the beginning of the
game, and the team with the highest score when the bell rings wins! This
also offers students an opportunity to practice their letters.
the students into two teams, X and O. A child must answer a question
correctly to get an X or O on the board for their team. This website
provides a variety of easy-to-use PowerPoint templates, but I especially
We’ve played this game with grades 1 through 6. It’s always a hit, no matter the age!
Singing is a great way to get children to loosen up and learn new material.
onto Youku.com to download songs. Super Simple Learning has numerous
great options, such as, “If You’re Happy and You Know It,” “Heads,
Shoulders, Knees, and Toes,” and “Baby Shark.” If your kids are learning
the seasons, most students adore the song “Four Seasons.” Bounce
Patrol, a Youku channel, has a great series for learning letters of the
6. Ball game
A fellow primary school teacher recently recommended this game to me as a warm up, and my kids love it!
a ball to the classroom. Students pass around a ball while you play a
song on the computer. I usually play Justin Bieber’s “Baby.” They go
bananas for The Biebs!
you stop the song, show the students a picture on a flash card or on
the PowerPoint. The person holding the ball when the music stops has to
identify the vocabulary word.
7. Board races
two students to the front of the classroom. In your PowerPoint
presentation, pull up two pictures side by side. You may have a picture
of a pie and a picture of a cake. Yell, “Cake!” The first kid to run to
the board and touch the cake picture wins a point for his team.
students are usually eager to participate in Pictionary. They love to
get out of their seats, be creative, and show off! I usually have one
child draw at a time. The student who correctly guesses the vocabulary
word gets to draw next.