Category Archives for "Young Learner ESL Games & Resources"

A Relay Race is a great way to use teamwork to help motivate even your shyest students to speak.

How to use a relay race in your EFL classroom - Thumb

A Relay Race is a fun game that gets your whole ESL / EFL class using new vocabulary and language targets quickly.  By emphasizing cooperation and more importantly fun, a Relay Race is all but guaranteed to be a class favorite.



The Details:

  • The only materials you'll need are a few vocabulary cards.  Pretty much any topic will work.
  • A Relay Race works best with a larger class. Ideally 20 - 30 students.
  • Depending on how many variations of the game are used, it should take between 5 and 10 minutes to set up and execute this ESL game.


How to:

  1. Introduce your lessons target language.  E.g. "I like cookies".
  2. Divide your class into equal teams.
  3. Have each team form a straight line.  Students should be standing about an arm's length away from each other.
  4. Give the first student in each line a vocabulary card.  Students will have to pass the vocabulary card to the next student in the line while using the target language.ESL Games #003 - relay race
  5. The first team to pass the card from the front of the line to the back of the while making sure each student uses the target language wins.
  6. Repeat steps 4 and 5 several times while increasing the complexity of the game.


If you want to make the game more difficult you can add personalization, questions, and answers ("What do you like?", "I like cookies".), more complex language targets, etc.


If you like Relay Race you'll also love this other Easy ESL Game.  We call it Watermelon Race.




Mustache Smash – A great game for Reading, Listening & Speaking

Mustache Smash - A great game for Reading, Listening & Speaking - Easy ESL Games site thumb

Mustache Smash is an absolutely awesome way to practice Reading, Listening & Speaking in your ESL or EFL classroom. It's very similar to the classic game Hammers , however Mustache Smash requires a little more space  and a timer. In  case you haven't noticed, we love using timers in our games. A timer instantly adds an extra layer of difficulty that we've seen help students get over any shyness they may be feeling time and time again.

The Details About Mustache Hammer Smash:

  • The only materials required to play this game are the plungers from the game Mustache Smash.  You can find the game on Amazon with a quick search. quick search.  If you're in a pinch and can't wait for the game to be delivered, you can easily substitute the plungers with a plastic hammers, stuffed toys or even just get your students to use their hands.
  • In this example we're using our LEEP Cards to teach the alphabet.  You can download a set of LEEP Cards Here.  If you can't find any toy hammers you can just use your hands instead.
  • This game works best with lower level students about 10  and younger,  
  • A game of Mustache Smash takes between 5 and 10 minutes.

In this example we are teaching the Phonetic Alphabet as our topic.  And "Ah Ah Apple" as our Target Language.

Here's How To Play Mustache Hammer Smash

1) Pre-teach the vocabulary cards. For this lesson it’s assumed the children have already learned the phonetics sounds of A, B, and C.

2) Give Mustache plungers to all of your students.

3) Put all of your vocabulary cards in a circle on the floor .

4) Ask your students to stand up and walk around the circle.

5) Set a random timer. 

6) Say the phonic sound associated with a letter. “ah-ah-apple”.

7) When the timer goes off the first student to hit the correct card with their Mustache Plunger gets a point.  The plunger makes it easy to tell who wins because their card will be stuck to their plunger.

6) Repeat.

Mustache Hammer Smash

  • ​It's about as simple as a classroom game can get.
  • It's very adaptable and will work with almost any lower level topic and/or target language.
  • It works!

Hieroglyphics is a great alternative to charades you can use in adult classes.

This ESL Game is a twist on the classic ESL game Charades.   In Charades, Students act out a word or phrase without speaking while their classmates try to guess what it is.  Charades is a great game for kids. But sometimes in high school and adult classes, charades gets a little uncomfortable.

Hieroglyphics is the perfect solution!

The Details About Hieroglyphics

  • This game works with any class size.
  • It's a great alternative to charades that works very well in high school or adult lessons.
  • The only materials you'll need are a marker and a whiteboard

How To Play Hieroglyphics:

  1. I usually don't even introduce this game.  I find a short phase that uses the lesson's target language and then I write one diagonal dash on the board for each word in the phrase.
  2. Start drawing pictures that represent the first word in your puzzle.  Your students will figure out what you're trying to do almost immediately.
  3. After your class guesses the first word, move on to the second one.
  4. Repeat until your class has solved the puzzle.   After your students solve the puzzle, split them into teams, remove yourself from the game and repeat the activity.
  5. Enjoy!


  1. I works great with any size of class.
  2. There's almost no materials required   
  3. It's just about as simple as a classroom game can get.

How to have an alphabet board game with LEEP Racemats


This alphabet board game is a great way to make learning to read phonetically a little more fun for teachers and students a like.  This is one of many ways we use our LEEP Racemats but as you can see in the video, not only do I play this game with students, I've also used it to teach my own children.

The Details About The Alphabet Board Game:

In this example we are teaching Phonics as our topic.  And modeling proper phonetic pronunciation for our students.


  • ​​Ah ah apple, b b belly, etc

Here's How To Have An Alphabet Board Game

  1. Before playing I like to warm my students up by using the LEEP Racemat to sing the ABC Song with Alphabet Sounds.
  2. Have each player pick a small toy to use as their game piece.  
  3. Decide if you want to play on the upper or lowercase race track.  I usually recommend the lowercase letters because they are much more common in everyday reading.
  4. Tell your students that if you flip a coin and it lands on heads players get move one space.  If the coin lands on tails players move two spaces.
  5. As a player moves space to space they MUST say each letter's correct phonetic pronunciation followed by it's hinto word.  E.g. C c caterpillar, d d don't.
  6. Make sure you are modeling each letter for your students and repeating any pronunciation problems.
  7. The first player to make it all the way from A - Z wins.
  8. After completing one round, if your students are still engaged, switch which version of the alphabet you are using (e.g. Lowercase to Uppercase) and repeat.

Alphabet Board Game:

  • circle
    It's a great way to make learning to read interactive and fun.
  • circle
    It's one of our favorite ways to use the LEEP Racemat.
  • circle
    It's extremely easy to play and kids love it!

Have fun in class!

How To Use LEEP Placemats To Teach Children To Read

Easy ESL Games - LEEP Placemats | site Thumb

Free Printable Placemats For Teaching Kids How To read - Easy ESL Games

When our students are just beginning to learn how to read we like to introduce the letters of the alphabet using a LEEP  Placemat.  The LEEP Alphabet placemats are a really effective tool for easing children int reading and building up a sense of familiarization with each letter. 

Two of the most important aspects of reading are frequency and exposure.  So using a LEEP Placemat opens up at least 3 opportunities per day to learn phonics; breakfast, lunch and dinner.

The Placemat is however in means confined to the table.  It's a great tool for learning The ABC Song with Alphabet Sounds and playing any number of phonic related games.

The Details About LEEP Placemats:

  • They come in 11 different styles.
  • The feature all 26 LEEP Letters with pronunciation hints.  ( A looks like an Apple)
  • Some styles combine numbers, shapes and/or pictures.
  • We recommend printing the LEEP Placemats on large paper (A3 size) and laminating them right away so that you can reuse them for years to come.

In this example we show you how you can use the LEEP Placemat to play "Where is it?" with learners from the ages of 1 and up.  Because the child in the video is a baby,we've kept the game extremely simple and use a lot of positive re-enforcement.

How to use a LEEP Placemat to play Where is it?

Continue reading

Listen and Draw is a great comprehension check for any lesson about prepositions.

This Game is one of the first games I ever used in class.  It builds on one of our first activities, the  Preposition Chant.  The Preposition Chant helps students learn 7 basic prepositions quickly by using a total physical response method for language learning. 

The only materials required to play Listen and Draw are a pencil and paper. A stuffed animal doesn’t hurt either.

Heres the "Set Up":

After your class has learned the 7 basic prepositions (on, in, under, next to, between, in front and behind) by using the Preposition Chant they are ready to test out their new English.

Start by writing the sentence: “The dog is on the car” on the whiteboard in your classroom.

At this point, I usually pick up a prop (toy dog)  move it around to see if the class can use the sentence.  If you don’t have any toys it’s no problem you can use literally anything as a replacement.

Start by putting the dog on the desk and say “The dog is on the desk.” Next, move the toy dog under the desk and wait for the class to say “The dog is under the desk.”  Repeat this several times until you are confident that your ESL students have grasped the target language.  

You can also draw an object on the whiteboard, a car for example and move the toy around that image.

The Dog Is On the car - Listen And Draw - Easy ESL Games

You Can Watch The Video Here:

Heres How to Play:

  1. Have your students take out a piece of paper and ask them to draw a fishbowl in the middle of the page.
  2. Then, tell your ESL class that “the fishbowl is on a table.
  3. Next, instruct your students to draw “the table is between two chairs.”
  4. Next, ask the class to draw “the cat is under the table.”
  5. Then, say “a cup is in front of the fishbowl.“
  6. Finally, tell your  students that “a panda is behind  everything.”

Listen And Draw Full Pic - Easy ESL Games

Once your class has completed the activity invite students to come to the front of the class and draw the various pictures and prepositions on the whiteboard.

Obviously, all of the pictures are interchangeable.  If you know your students love Mickey Mouse, by all means, make sure to include him.

*To keep Listen and Draw to 15 minute maximum time, I like to set a 30 second timer for each new picture the students draw.  Otherwise, this ESL / EFL game can end up taking a really long time to execute.


How To Teach Phonics With A Letter Swap

How to teach phonics with a letter swap - Easy ESL Games site thumb

Letter Swaps are as fun and easy way to let your students play around with the different sounds in their names.  This post shows you how to use 2 fast and fun phonics activities to grab your students attention. 

The Details About Letter Swaps:

  • ​The only materials required are a whiteboard or a piece of paper and a marker.
  • ​A game of Letter Swaps should last around 10 minutes depending on the size of your class.
  • ​This game works best with students that are learning how to read.

This game teaches students how to play with and manipulate the different sounds (phonemes) in their names.

Here's How To Play Letter Swap

Version #1

  1. ​Simply write or have the students write their names on the whiteboard or paper.
  2. Next we start playing around with their names.
  3. Today I'm teaching the letter G so I will start changing the letters of the name so they have G. So Akira becomes Akiga, then Agiga and so on. Kids think this is hilarious. If they can read the name themselves it's better but if they can't,  their still seeing and hearing the letter sounds.
  4. You can also pull out random letters and Add them.
Use a letter swap to make learning phonics fun#1 - Easy ESL Games

Version #2

  1. The second way requires a little more preparation. Write your student's names on post-it notes but breakup the names either into syllables, phonemes, or whatever makes sense.
  2. Then you start swapping the post-it notes to make new names.
  3. You can use the same idea for other words such as animal names. Mix the words of kangaroo and octopus to make kangapus or an octoroo. 
  4. Then the students can draw the new, imaginary animal.
Use a letter swap to make learning phonics fun#2 - Easy ESL Games
Use a letter swap to make learning phonics fun#3 - Easy ESL Games

Letter Swaps:

    • They're fast.
    • ​They're fun. 
    • They're a great way to help your students master phonics.

How to teach body related vocabulary with the “Duck Game”.

This classroom game comes to us from Nicole P. Nicole is a very active member of the Easy ESL Games community and has suggested some great games. Nicole is currently teaching ESL classes to 6 year olds in Israel.

This game is called Duck. It’s similar to the game “Simon Says” in the way it teaches and reviews body related vocabulary but "Duck" has a little bit of healthy competition added as well.

How to teach body related vocabulary with the Duck Game - Nicole - Easy ESL Games

The Details About Duck:

  • This game focuses on listening comprehension and is a great way to review body parts. 
  • The only materials you’ll need are a few toys. In this example nicole used rubber ducks but I’m pretty sure they’re not essential.  
  • A game should last between 5 and 10 minutes depending on the size of your class.
  • The object of the game is to be the first student to grab the toy duck after the teacher says “duck”.

In this example we are teaching Body Related Vocabulary as our topic.  And we're focusing on Listening Comprehension.

Here's How To Play Duck

  1. ​Preteach body related vocabulary.
  2. Put a toy duck in the between your students.  In the video students are working in pairs.  Groups of 3 - 5 work just as well and are often a little more fun.
  3. Call out part of the body.  As you say each body part your students have to repeat what you say while touching the body part you named. 
  4. At some point say "Duck" instead of a body part.  The first student to grab the duck wins their game.
  5. Switch teachers and repeat until just before the game gets boring.


  • It’s really easy.
  • It’s a great way to review body related vocabulary.
  • And it’s fun.

How To Use Pictionary In Your EFL Classroom

This is a really fun game that sure to be a hit. You might know it as Pictionary, or Listen and Draw. It's great for vocabulary review and question and answer practice. A game usually lasts between 15 and 20 minutes.

The Details About Pictionary:

  • ​You can use it to practice almost any vocabulary item.
  • The materials you'll need are a whiteboard, a few markers and some vocabulary cards or realia.  
  • ​A game usually lasts between 10 and 20 minutes depending on class size.
How to play Pictionary in your EFL Classroom - Easy ESL Games 1

In this example we are teaching THINGS as our topic.  "Is it a bear?" is our Target Language.


  • ​Is it a  vampire watermelon?

Here's How To Play Pictionary

  1. ​Split your class into teams.
  2. If possible set up two whiteboards facing in opposite directions like in the picture below.  This game works best if the  players can only see their teams drawings.
  3. Stand as far away from the whiteboards as possible so that your students will have to run to you find out which picture they'll be drawing.
  4. Pick one player per team to go first.  Give those students markers.  
  5. When you say go the students that are holding markers will have to run across the room from their whiteboards all the way to the teacher.  The teacher secretly shows those students a vocabulary card.  
  6. Then the students run back to their team's whiteboard and attempt to draw the picture from the vocabulary card.
  7. The students that are drawing are not allowed to talk!
  8. All of the other players have to try and guess what their team mate is drawing and then connect it with the lesson's language target.
  9. The first team that correctly guesses the vocabulary item and uses it in the correct sentence wins the round.
  10. Repeat until just before the game gets boring.

How to play Pictionary in your EFL Classroom - Easy ESL Games


  • It has lots of question practice.
  • It's a great vocabulary review. 
  • It's really fun.

Make A Snake is a classroom game that creates a need for students to speak!

Make A Snake Easy ESL Games Site thumb

Make A Snake is a fun and exhausting game that requires almost no preparation but gets tons of question and answer practice in a short amount of time.

The Details About Make A Snake:

  • It's perfect for question and answer practice.
  • It's highly adaptable.
  • Each game lasts between 1 and 2 minutes, but you can play multiple times.

In this example we are teaching food as our topic.  "Do you like (food)? Yes, I do/No I don't." as our Target Language.


  • Do you like bananas?  Yes, I do/No I don't.

Here's How To Play Make A Snake

1.  You will need a) a wall and b) a whole bunch of food and animal toys (the animal toys are to make sure some of the answers are "No, I don't).

2.   Put students in teams and line up at the wall.

3.   Place the toys at the other side of the room.

4.   One member from each team races to the toys, grabs one and races back to their team and asks "Do you like (bananas)?". The next student answers "Yes, I do | No, I don't." and places the toy against the wall.

Make a snake - an EFL game that uses teamwork - Easy ESL Games 1

5.   The next student does the same, but they place their toy touching the first toy, making a snake reaching into the room.

6.   This repeats until either the toys run out, or a timer stops the game.

7.   The winner is the team with the longest snake.

Make a snake - an EFL game that uses teamwork - Easy ESL Games 2

If you have only 2 or 3 students, they can try to reach a set point on the floor before the timer runs out.​

Make A Snake:

  • It requires hardly any preparation.
  • There's loads of speaking practice.
  • It's exhausting (for your students).
1 2 3 7