Mission Impossible 2!

letter and clipMany people ask me “Where do I get my ideas for games?“. Well, actually, no one has ever asked me this question. But IF they did, I would answer, “From the strangest places”

I was watching my four year old son playing outside with a big plastic clothes pin, picking up toys. I thought “Eureka! “this would make a great game!

You will need:

  1. A set of plastic Alphabet letters.
  2. Big plastic clothes pins or clips. Enough for all the students.
  3. A Kitchen timer.
  4. Matching flashcards for each letter. Ex. “A – Apple “Flashcard.

Before the lesson, put the letters in a hat or colorful box and place the flashcards around the room.

Now your ready!

Take out the letters one by one and have the students identify each letter. Hand a letter to a student have them place the letter on a matching flashcard around the room. My school has an Alphabet carpet, so I have them place the plastic letters on the matching letter on the carpet. After all the plastic letters have been matched, give each student a clip. Demonstrate to the students how to pick up a plastic letter with one hand using a clip. Announce “It’s challenge time!” Set the time for about 45 seconds. Give more time for younger students. The students must pick up all the the letters before the time runs out.

Ready, Set, Go! Play some peppy music or the theme from “Mission Impossible” and watch the fun as the kids run around the room picking up the letters and putting them back into the box before the time runs out. They will ask to do it again!

This is a great game to bring your students together as a team. For younger or sensitive children, just have them pick up the letter without the timer.


Tower of Power

Stackable Tower from Ikea

Relay games are a lot of fun. Especially, when your students need to use up some energy. I call this game, “Tower of Power” Two teams have a stack of flashcards face down. At the opposite end of the classroom is a matching set face up. For example, An “Apple” card and an “A” card. Each team has a stackable tower or a set of blocks. The teams have to turn over a face down card and say the word. Then race to the other side of the classroom and bring back the matching card. Having done so, they can build one level of the tower. Game continues untill one team has built their tower. Play the game a couple of times.

Finger Karuta

Here is a fun game to play if you’re using a text-book with a lot of pictures. This game is similar to the Japanese game called “Karuta”. Introduce the vocabulary using flashcards matching the pictures in the student’s text-book. Have each student repeat each word while touching the matching picture in the book. Now it’s game time! Have students compete in pairs, and place one open book in between each other. Shuffle your flashcards. Tell the students to “put your finger on your nose”. This is the starting position. Call out and show a flash card. The students who touches the picture and says the word first is the winner! Repeat this several times. To avoid “ties”, repeat an odd number of times. The player with the most points wins!

Phonics Shuffle Game

This game can be played using any six cards or music, but this game is great using the wonderful “Super Simple ABC’s” flash cards. The game is Super Simple too! Teach the gestures and phonics of the cards used before the game. If your teaching a large class, ask for six students to come up to the front of the class. Give each student a flash card facing towards the other students for all to see. Review each flash card again. Have the six students turn the cards around face backwards. Play some energetic music. Have the students not holding cards clap to the beat of the music. This is a good way to get everyone involved. The six students holding cards “shuffle” the cards by exchanging them with each other. When the music stops, the students holding cards (still facing backwards) stop exchanging cards. Ask the other students, for example, “wheres a-a-a apple?” If a students knows, they raise their hand and choose the person holding the card. The students holding the cards can answer “yes” or “no”. For the last card, ask the students “what’s this?” For small classes, line up the cards on the board and the teacher can “shuffle” the cards. Play once or twice.

Up and Down Game

Teaching numbers and counting in a fun and interesting way can be a challenge. Heres a fun numbers game you can play with a pack of playing cards. First practice counting 1-13. Explain to the students the number values of the cards; Ace =1, Jack=11, Queen=12, King= 13. The number cards are as is.Shuffle the cards and deal the top card for all to see. The students guess if the next card is “UP” or “DOWN” in value. For example, the first card to be dealt is a “5”. Is the next card “5-UP” meaning 6- 13 (king) or “5-DOWN” 1 (Ace) – 4?  If the next card dealt is the same as the previous card, then just deal the next card. Play continues until the player’s guess is incorrect.  Points are given for the cards guessed correctly. If your teaching a large group. Divide the students into teams. Each team takes turns guessing “UP” or “DOWN”. For a 10 -15 minutes game, the total of three rounds is the winner. The game can also be played like my “Gesture Junken” game. The students guessing incorrectly sit down. The remaining students game play the next round. After five rounds the standing students are the winners.

Apples and Worms Game

This is an exciting game you can play with any target language. You will need 25 cards (3 worm or caterpillar card, 2 plus cards, 2 minus cards and 18 apples). You will also need a large foam die and some magnets. Divide the students into three teams. Shuffle the cards and place them face backwards in a grid formation on the blackboard using magnets. Play some energetic music while the students pass the die. When the music stops, the student holding the die must answer a flash card, question etc. The student then chooses a card. If the chosen card is an apple then draw and apple on the blackboard under the teams name. If the card is an apple, the student may choose up to three cards or stop. The other cards only once. If the card is a plus, then the student rolls the die and gets that number of apples on the die . If the card is a minus, the student rolls and they lose that number of apple. If the card is a caterpillar then the team loses ALL the apples. A very hungry caterpillar!  The team with the most apples (points) after all the cards are revealed is the winner! Just a note of caution. The caterpillar card may be too scary for younger or sensitive children, so use your own discretion and have fun!


Car Crash Game

Here’s a simple race game that appeals to all ages. Draw a curvy race track on the board with a start and a finish. Divide the race track into about 12-16 spaces similar to a board game. Have your students make 2 or 3 teams. Each team gets their own color car. The students pass around a large foam die while some energetic music is playing. When the music stops, the person holding the die answers a question, identifies a flash card, etc. If the vocabulary is new, to avoid embarrassment to the student who can’t indentifiy the card, I usually ask the whole class to say the flash card. Then the student rolls the die. The teacher moves the car according to the number rolled.  Heres the exciting part. If the player rolls a “one”.  The car “crashes” and they skip a turn. I turn over the car and draw smoke or fire to illustrate that the car “crashed”. The kids love this!  The first car to make it to the finish line wins! Play time is about 10 -15 minutes for a large class. For younger students you may not want to “crash” the car, or skip a turn. Just move the car ahead one space.