Teaching students how to read has never been easier. Download our LEEP Cards now and and see how easy ESL teaching can be!

Easyeslgames.com‘s LEEP (Learn Easy ESL Phonics) Cards are fun, effective and FREE way to teach phonics to any student that is just learning to read. These can be used by anyone from teachers, to parents of kids of new readers and even as a tool to help struggling learners. For best results we suggest combining our LEEP Cards with the the ABC Song with Alphabet Sounds and the physical gestures that accompany each LEEP Card.

The above video shows that each LEEP Card (both lower and upper case) is bright and interesting, showing a word that has the correct sound used in basic reading. They also introduce a useful word or phrase. This way each student learns the fundamentals of reading, 26 words and some classroom language.


However, BY FAR the most effective way to use these LEEP cards, the way we’ve been using for years now, is to use funny, memorable gestures with each card. This is called “total physical response” (TPR) and is a proven, effective way of learning.

LEEP CARDS - Gestures

Here are the gestures I use every class ( starting from age 2).  Feel free to change the gestures to whatever you feel comfortable doing. These I know work in a Japanese class. The video below is an inclass example of how to combine the ABC Song With Alphabet Sounds with the LEEP Cards and the matching gestures. By using the combination of stimuluses we find students learn much quicker than with other teaching methods.

There are 3 main types of learners, all of which are helped by these cards. Most kids are a mix of all these but usually have a preference of one. All are helped by using the LEEP cards.
1)Visual learners
2)Kinesthetic learners (movement)
3)Auditory learners

Lowercase Phonetic Alphabet in Color

This Lowercase Phonetic Alphabet set comes in full color. Each letter has a phonetically correct guide word that helps to guarantee YOUR students receive the strongest foundation possible when they are learning to read.


Uppercase Phonetic Alphabet in Color

This Uppercase Phonetic Alphabet set comes in full color. Each letter has a phonetically correct guide word that helps to guarantee YOUR students receive the strongest foundation possible when they are learning to read.


Uppercase Phonetic Alphabet B/W

This Uppercase Phonetic Alphabet set comes in Black And White. The cards aren't as exciting as our full color versions but they will save you a little bit of time and money when it comes time to print them.


Lowercase Phonetic Alphabet B/W

This Lowercase Phonetic Alphabet set comes in Black And White. The cards aren't as exciting as our full color versions but they will save you a little bit of time and money when it comes time to print them.


In addition to the downloadable set of Phonetic Alphabet Cards we have created a number of ESL games and resources that showcase them!

The easiest reading game we have is called hammers. It’s for students that are just learning the basics of reading phonetically.

Shark Race is a great way to practice phonemes. All you have to do is print an alphabet board and you can quickly turn reading practice into a board game.

We will be adding more resources to this list weekly. Make sure to check out this page regularly to ensure you don’t miss a thing.

We're Having a Super Simple Giveaway! Enter Today, Contest closes Nov 1, 2016.

Super Simple Giveaway

We’re having a Super Simple Giveaway!

We want your BEST ESL classroom games. Your go-to, never fail games.   Simply submit a quick write up in the form provided below.

  • Super Simple GiveawayWe are going to pick our 5 favorite game submissions and animate them.  
  • Next, we’re going to publish them on YouTube, Google Plus, Twitter and Facebook.  
  • Finally, we’ll let our community of language teachers pick their favorite game.

The winner will receive this  Super Simple Songs Collection!  That’s 6 cds and 3 DVDs.  (Fyi, the plush toys are not included.  Also, one of the DVD’s is made for a Japanese audience so you’ll have to format it.)

That’s it.  An Easy ESL Game in exchange for your chance of winning this Super Simple Song collection.

[si-contact-form form=’2′]

Do you have a great game you like to share on Easy ESL Games?  Here are a few things to keep in mind:

Headlines make games easier to read!

When you submit a game you should remember to keep your paragraphs short. 2-3 sentences at most. Generally, when reading posts on the internet, people like to skim.
If you clearly state the game’s purpose.  Teachers will quickly know whether or not your game will work in their classrooms.

Bullet Points are great!

  1. What is the ideal class size?
  2. How long will the game take to play?
  3. Are there any required materials?
  4. Important points should be written in bold letters or underlined.

People love pictures.  Ideally, a game post will have a few pictures that clearly display how your ESL Game is played.
Easy ESL Games HP header

Why should you submit an ESL Game or Resource?

First of all, if you don’t submit a game you won’t qualify for a chance to win the Super Simple Song Collection.
Super Simple Giveaway
Also, if you have an ESL / EFL based website, school or product feel free to link to your materials.  Just try to remember to keep the links relevant. We’ve gotten some crazy submissions over the years.
If you’re a new teacher and your looking to make a name for yourself or help yourself in job interviews having published materials shows that you’re serious about your career.
On top of everything else, your game will help other ESL / EFL teachers help countless students.

Some extra details:

Before submitting your Easy ESL Game make sure to do a little research.  If we’ve already published the same game or something very similar, it’s not going to help your game’s chances of being selected….Sorry.  Also, we’re English teachers so spelling and grammar count.  The best ideas will win but a tie will go to the game that’s easier to understand.

The Deadline for game submissions Nov 1st, 2016.

Good luck!

*Any Super Simple Giveaway game submissions become property of Easy ESL Games.  We reserve the right to publish them and distribute them in whichever way we feel will best serve of community of ESL and EFL teachers.

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How to teach answering questions with Criss Cross

How to practice asking Questions with the ESL Game Criss Cross

Answering questions can be extremely difficult for language learners. Especially if their entire class is watching them. It is our opinion, that difficult does not mean impossible and if you do not require your students to stand up and talk in front of all of their classmates, you are doing them a disservice.

We love the game Criss Cross because it's a fun warm-up that requires participation from everyone in the class and focuses on a common objective (sitting down). If executed properly your students will be cheering each other on as everyone works together to achieve their common goal.

The Details About Criss Cross

  • This is a game for big classes. 
  • Criss cross works best for junior high school and high school students.
  • It works great as an icebreaker.
  • You don’t need anything to play Criss cross.

How To Play Criss Cross:

  1. Before the class, make a list of questions you think the students can answer. They can be about a topic you’re studying or a general English review. 
  2. To play Criss cross, you need to make sure the desks or students are lined up in rows. 
  3. Get all the students to stand up.   
  4. If they’re sleepy or not very enthusiastic, you could make them do some jumping jacks, or something.
  5. The aim of the game is to have the whole class sitting down.
  6. Ask a question.
  7. Any student can raise their hand to answer the question. If they answer correctly, they have 3 choices. They can choose "up and down", or "left and right". If they choose up and down, they and all the students in front and behind them sit down. If they choose left and right, then they and all the students on their left and right sit down.
  8. The last choice is "just me". That means, only they sit down.
  9. The last row standing has to choose just me.
  10. This is great because kids who are quiet or less enthusiastic, may have to stand up the longest, and answer a question in front of the whole class.
  11. You can use a timer to make the game more exciting.
  12.  Sometimes the choosing can cause problems, so be prepared to choose for them or choose randomly.

Criss Cross

  • It’s a perfect warmer for students in a large class. 
  • It’s excellent for practicing questions and answers.
  • It encourages everyone to play.

If you liked this ESL Game for High School classes you might also enjoy some of these classroom favorites!

Have fun in class!

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.

ESL Game #028 – The Paper Crane (an exercise in circumlocution)

Making a Paper Crane was probably the first ESL Game (ish) activities I learned as a new teacher living in Japan and it hasn't let me down yet.   This activity is awesome for a number of reasons.  First and foremost, it really causes students to think about what they are saying and find ways to describe things that they aren't used to speaking about.    This activity is also highly adaptable.  You can use it in adult man-to-man lessons, small groups of high school students or with large classes of elementary students.   You just have to be able to gauge your students and make sure the language you're asking for is level appropriate.  

The Details About The Paper Crane

  • This game requires NO PREPARATION.   It's an awesome back up plan to always have in your back pocket.
  • The only materials you'll need are a few pieces of paper and a pair of scissors.
  • This game is highly adaptable but works easiest with higher level students.
  • A game can last between 10  - 30 minutes.  The length of the activity is entirely based on how hard you make it for the students.
  • How To Play The Paper Crane :

    1. To teach this exercise I find it works best to ask the entire class to each makes a crane.  This just helps them remember the process.  It also kind of puts students on the hook so that they have to speak.  They've shown you that they know how to perform the objective, so they won't be able to back out at a later point.
    2. Then, play stupid (this generally isn't very hard for me).  Say you don't know how to make a crane (or airplane, make coffee, etc) and ask your students how to do it.  They will instinctively try and pick up the paper to show you.  
    3. Simply smile and inform them that they are not allowed to use their hands.  Next, they all gasp in horror when they realise their lesson just got a lot harder.  
    4. When they try to give you directions, it will be very difficult at first.   Depending on your teaching style, your students ability and how much time you have, you adjust how much you're willing to help them.     For example, if a student tells you to "fold the paper" there is many ways you can fold it.  You can fold it in half lengthways, across the middle, make a triangle, etc.  
    5. It's important to let your class struggle a little bit.  If they have difficulty at first the payoff of completing the activity will increase the level of confidence they have in their own English ability by the end of the activity.   It's important you don't let your students struggle too much.  If they think it's impossible, your class will stop paying attention.
    6. At this point, I will usually take a step back and offer the class a few extra words that might help them perform the task e.g. fold, crease, turn over, repeat, etc.  I like to keep the list short just so that they still have searched for the right words.
    7. This ESL game can be as short or as long as you want to make it.  If your students are really advanced don't give them any vocabulary clues. If their lower level students work with them and act like you did it together.  Either way when students finish this activity they always have a real sense of accomplishment.  In reality, I've done this about 20 times already and I still can't figure how to make a paper crane.  

    Have fun in class!

    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

    Teach the past tense with Fortunately / Unfortunately.

    ESL Games FortunatelyUnfortunately simple past

    Fortunately/Unfortunately is an awesome ESL game for teaching the simple past tense.  It requires listening, speaking and a lot of creativity.

    The Details:

    • There are no materials required.
    • You can play with between 2 and 10 participants.
    • A game should take between 5 and 15 minutes depending on your classes size and ability.

    How To use Fortunately/Unfortunately to teach the simple past tense:

    1. Pre-teach the words fortunately and unfortunately.
    2. Divide your class into 2 teams: Optimists & Pessimists.
    3. Tell your team of optimists that it’s their duty to always look on the bright side of things.  They must begin every sentence with the word “fortunately”.
    4. Conversely, your team of pessimists must always see the negative side of every situation.  They have to start every sentence with the word “unfortunately”.
    5. The teacher starts by making a random statement about something that happened earlier in the day, e.g., ” I talked to a famous actor at lunch today”.
    6. Then the optimists must then expand on the story by adding an extra detail about talking to the famous person while using the simple past tense, e.g.,  “fortunately, they looked really cool”.
    7. The pessimists must then add the next link to the story, e.g.,  “unfortunately,  they smelled really bad”.
    8. The process continues until one team cannot think of an appropriate response.  Depending on how the game is going you can either restart the game with a new story or end the activity.

    ESL Games_FortunatelyUnfortunately simple past Here’s an example of Fortunately/Unfortunately that my students used in class (I’ve edited out the mistakes).

    Teacher: I saw Tom Cruz at the lunch today.

    Optimists:  Fortunately, he looked really handsome.

    Pessimists: Unfortunately, he didn’t speak to me.

    Optimists:  Fortunately, he smiled at me.

    Pessimists: Unfortunately, he kicked me in the leg.

    Optimists:  Fortunately, it didn’t hurt.

    This ESL game has little to no structure.  It’s fun, crazy and gets everyone talking while practicing the past tense.


    If you think that this ESL story chain is a great way of teaching the simple past tense you’ll love this game as well.

    How To Review Any Target Language With The Game – Rapid Question and Answer

    Rapid Questions & Answers Site Thumb

    One of the hardest things about teaching EFL classes is finding ways to make language drilling and repetition fun.  This classroom game makes drilling a breeze.  Your students will happily practice any target language as many times as you see fit and when your lesson is over, they will beg you to play more.  Sound impossible?  Well then you've never played Rapid Questions and Answers!

    The Details About Rapid Questions & Answers:

    • ​This game combines language review, competition and a time limit.
    • ​It will work with any target language.
    • ​You can easily adjust this game so that it works with students from the ages of 3 to 103!  
    • This game works perfectly as a language review.
    Rapid Questions and Answers Game play - Easy ESL Games


    In this example we are teaching Food as our topic.  And "What's your favorite food?   My Favorite food is ___________" as our Target Language.


    Q - What's your favorite food?

    A - My favorite food is strawberries.​

    A - My favorite food is grapes.​

    A - My favorite food is pizza.​

    Here's How To Play Rapid Questions & Answers

    1. This game is all about repetition.  All you need to do is set up a timer and define an objective.  
    2. In the game Launch Across the objective is to make rows of balls.  Steve made this game all about using the target language.  Each time a student makes a sentence that uses the target language they get to shoot one ball in the hopes of building a line of balls. 
    3. Set the timer for an appropriate time (shorter for younger students longer for older students).  We definitely recommend keeping the time limits to a minute or less.  More than a minute is even hard for a native English speaker!
    4. Show your students the AGO Card you are using and give a few example answers.
    5. Start the timer and let the games begin.
    6. When the timer expires check to see if anyone made a line.  If not, you can either count the balls to see who got the most into the game board or play again.  It's important to remember that you're the teacher.  If you need to adjust the rules, it's okay.
    7. Repeat this process until 2 minutes before it gets boring.  That way your students will want to play again and again.

    Rapid Questions and Answers:

      • ​It's a great way to review any target language.
      • ​It's fast paced  and extremely fun.
      • Your students will LOVE it!

    Have Fun in Class!

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