Warm up activities are an essential part of any ESL lesson. A good warm-up will enable your language students to transition into an English learning mindset. Obviously, different ages and abilities require different warm-up methods.
When dealing with ESL students that are in Junior High School or High School I prefer warm-up activities based on asking and answering questions. One great and easy ESL game that gets language students talking is Question Cubes.
To play Question Cubes you’ll need two wooden cubes. I took them out of a set of blocks that we had at my school. You’ll need to write the 6, W question words on one cube: Who, What, When, Where, Why and Which. On the Second cube fill in each side with one of the numbers 1 – 6 that you’d find on a typical playing die.
This game is ideal for a small class. Approximately 3-4 people. You can adapt it to a larger class size by using teams, having more Question Cubes or tweaking the goal of the game.
How to Play:
- Show your students each side of the question die. Ask them to tell you what each word means in their native language. This is a real easy way to make sure they are confident with the vocabulary before playing.
- Ask you students for an example sentence for each of the 6 W question words. E.g. “Where do you live?”, “What is your favorite food?”, etc.
- Write each of your student’s name on a piece of paper so that you can tally points. I like to say that the game will end once on player reaches 50 points.
- Each question is worth the number on the numbered cube. In the example picture a “Why” question would be worth 2 points. The answer would be worth 2 points as well.
- Have a student role both cubes.
- The student that asks the fastest, correct question is awarded points. Then the student that offers fastest correct answer gets the same amount of points in return.
- The game finishes when a student reaches 50 points.
If one student is dominating this activity I make the student that asked the question in the previous round roll the die and not let them compete for points in the current round. The end goal of this activity is to have your whole class asking questions.
Have you tried question cubes in your ESL / EFL classroom? Have a different way to play. We’d love to hear your feedback. As always, we hope you and your students love playing this game.