Every teacher has had those lessons where you fly through your prepared content and you still have time to kill, or technology is simply not on your side that day and refuses to co-operate. Being able to think on our feet and come up with fun and semi-educational ways to keep our kids entertained is something we’ve had to master while teaching in South Korea. Here are our top 5 blackboard games to use in those five-to-ten minutes where you simply don’t know what to do. All you need is some chalk, a blackboard and a couple of restless kids and you’re good to go!
This game may be simple but kids LOVE it! It works for any English level and is definitely the biggest hit with our kids.
How to play:
The teacher can start by choosing a word or phrase (depending on student’s level) from the topic you are currently studying.
Draw dashes on the board representing each letter of the chosen word/phrase (leave spaces in between each word if using a phrase).
Have students guess the word by guessing each letter at a time.
If they get a letter correct, write it on the corresponding dash. For every letter they get wrong draw a part of the hangman, starting with the pole that the man hangs from. Each line on the hangman, or part of the hangman (ie. Eyes, arms, etc.), represents a wrong guess.
Write the letters guessed wrong next to the hangman drawing, so that students can keep track of the letters already guessed.
Each part of the hangman drawn brings the students closer to losing (students lose when the man is hung ie. the drawing is complete).
The student who guesses the correct word, and can spell it, then comes up to the board and comes up with their own word for the rest of the class to guess.
If students are struggling to guess the word you can give them more guesses by increasing the detail on the drawing (eg. each piece of hair on the man represents a letter).
You can vary how you want to play the game according to students’ level and discipline. If you need a few minutes to fight with your computer then have the students take it in turns to come up with a word, so you are free to battle with technology. If your students get a bit out of hand or aren’t very enthusiastic put them in teams and have them race to guess the word taking it in turns to guess a letter and drawing two separate hangmen. If you have students who are shy go around the class and get each student to guess a letter. However you choose to play, Hangman is a great way to kill time while still allowing students to practice reading, spelling and some speaking.
2) Word Train
This game works best for students in higher grades (5-6, maybe 4 depending on their level) as they will need to have a decent sized vocabulary bank.
How to play:
Start by writing a word (depending on your students’ level) on the left side of the board.
The next student then has to write a word beginning with the last letter of the first word underneath it. For example, if the first word is
Happy then the next word must start with y, such as yellow. The next word would then start with w.
Go around the class and give each student a turn to think of the next word.
The game can end whenever you choose. You could have a timer and the students race the clock to see how many words they can make in the given time. Or you could simply stop once students can’t think of another word.
Words cannot be repeated.
This game can also be played in various ways. In teams, to see who can come up with the most number of words in a given time limit, or simply as a class trying to beat previous records. This game is fun and allows your kids to practice reading and writing skills.
3) Grid Game
Another very simple game that is a hit with our students.
How to play:
Draw a 9 blocked grid on the board and fill each block with a letter (make sure to include at least two vowels).
Students must then make as many words as they can using the 9 letters.
Play individually and use a timer to see who can get the most words. Or play in teams and race to see who has the most words at the end of the time limit.
You can vary the size of the grid and type of letters in the grid according to the level of your students. This game is great for practicing reading, spelling and writing.
4) Word Builder
This game is great if you have a themed lesson or are covering a particular topic, but can be used any time.
How to play:
Write a word on the board that summarizes your themed lesson. For example if you are doing a lesson on Halloween then you can write “Halloween” on the board.
Students must then use the letters in that word to build other words (eg. “Hall” “low” “wall”, etc.).
They cannot use letters more than once but can shuffle the letters around.
This game could also be played in teams, where students race to build as many words as they can in an allocated time. Word Builder is a great way for students to practice spelling, reading and writing skills.
5) Category Word Game
Another game that is great for themed lessons that can be varied for different levels but will work best for higher grade students (Grade 4-6).
How to play:
Begin by choosing a category (eg. “cities” “animals”).
Students must then write down as many words as they can think of within this category (eg. If the word is “city” then possible words could be “Tokyo” “New York” “Seoul”, etc.)
To make it more difficult, give students an alphabet letter so every word they come up with must begin with that letter (eg. If the letter is “S” then they need to find cities starting with S such as “Seoul”, “San Diego”, etc.).
Again, this game can be played individually or in teams and can be varied in difficulty according to the letters or categories chosen. This game also allows students to practice their reading, spelling and writing skills.
There you have it, a few simple black board games that are fun but also ensure that your kids are learning and thinking in English.