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Games for large classes 
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Joined: Wed Apr 23, 2014 8:57 am
Posts: 8
Post Games for large classes
Good day to everyone, and a big thanks to Mark for this super resourceful site. I teach at an elementary school in Japan and class size varies from around 20 to 40 students. I teach grades 1-6 and teach in their homerooms; which means a room full of desks and chairs.

I'm running out of ideas for games which can be played in this type of environment. Currently, I play a lot of team games and break students into groups. Students move their desks together to make groups of about 4-6 students. Sometimes I have a classroom where I can have students move there desks and chairs to the back of the room and still have a fair-sized space to do other types of games. However, the games I play are starting to get old; especially for the older grades. I usually focus on a Q & A structure where vocab can be substituded into the answer; for example: Q: "What fruits do you like?"
A: "I like _______."

Can anyone offer any ideas for conversation activities for this type of environment? Any suggestion is welcome.

Kind regards.


Fri Apr 25, 2014 2:08 pm
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Joined: Mon Jan 02, 2006 10:46 am
Posts: 2125
Location: Nagano, Japan
Post Re: Games for large classes
Sorry, that there hasn't been a reply to this.

With my groups, I have a handful of games that I always go to: Concentration, Go Fish, Timer Races, Slap, and Bingo. You can read about these and some of the others here: ESL Games for the Classroom

You can listen to a free podcast here: http://www.eslteachertalk.com/2006/11/t ... g-classes/
It might give you some ideas.

Almost any activity can be adjusted for large classes. It may take some time to teach the students how to play, but once they know how to play, it's easier the next time around.

I also just adjust the language, substituting different language. That seems to be fine here. It could be simply a problem that the energy has left the classroom as a whole.

It's hard to give concrete advice without knowing what you are trying to teach. If you can tell us what you taught in the past lesson, what activities you used, and what you plan to teach in the next lesson, maybe I can offer a couple game/activity ideas.

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Sun Nov 16, 2014 8:17 pm
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Joined: Tue May 12, 2015 8:37 pm
Posts: 12
Post Re: Games for large classes
Just came across this thread. Here are some games I used to play with my students back in the days I worked as an elementary teacher.

What's in a name?: Best for grades 1-3. Arrange students in partners. Have one student begin talking about their first name to their partner, telling them what it is. Once they have said their name, they can now share a little bit about it - meaning of their name, unique ways to spell it, why they were named thus, what their name means in other languages, if they were named after someone, and the like. The idea is to have each student introduce their partner to the new students in the group. Encourage students to include as much of their partner's description as they can remember.

Wave stretching: Ideal for grades 2 and 3, however can be enjoyed by all. Have students form a large circle and begin by picking one student within the circle. Have them call out a stretch - every student must do the stretch one by one. The idea is to pass the stretch as you go along. Once the stretch gets back to the original student you chose, have the next student call out a new stretch. The other students will have to hold the initial stretch until the new stretch makes its way to them.

Balloon Bop: Can be played by all age groups together. Students begin by standing in a circle and holding hands. The teacher drops one balloon into the circle. The goal is for students to see how many times they can tap the balloon into the air - they must not use their feet - keeping it up in the air, without losing connection. They will soon figure out that they must all move together, as a circle, to make sure they do not lose connection. Depending on grade level, you can add more balloons to make it more challenging.


Wed May 13, 2015 5:55 pm
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Joined: Wed Apr 23, 2014 8:57 am
Posts: 8
Post Re: Games for large classes
thanks for the advice guys.

My main problem is the inconsistency in which I teach each grades. some months i have only 1 lesson per grade and other months it might be 2 or 3. It all plays around teachers' class schedules. Only grade 5 and 6 have a proper structure and the games are regimented by the H.R. teachers.

My goal was to have one theme per month with a simple Q & A structure; focusing on about 8 to 10 vocab items. This is the set up for grades 1 to 4. I try to recycle certain themes from grade to grade and increase the difficulty of the Q & A and increase the amount of vocab. I use basic themes like colours, numbers, animals, food, fruit, for the younger grades and use themes like sports, hobbies, nature and a few others for the older grades.

Given my circumstances, I've had to restructure my whole plan of action, but I appreciate the responses!

Thanks again!


Thu Nov 05, 2015 9:00 am
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Joined: Thu May 20, 2010 6:49 pm
Posts: 25
Location: Japan
Post Re: Games for large classes
Timed conversation race - model a conversation that fits into your theme for the month and uses target vocabulary. Practice the conversation until you feel/the students communicate they are ready. Get a stop watch. Explain you will time the entire class and see how it takes everyone to participate in the conversation. Demonstrate engaging one student in conversation, once it is over, that student turns to the student next to him/her and performs the conversation this time as the instigator. This process repeats, like a train, until all the students have participated as both instigator and responder. Write the time on the board for all to see. The older the students the more they will want to repeat the entire process if only to beat their own time. Break them into groups, each with its own timer, for some competition.

Topic response race - If your students are seated in rows then simply have all of them stand up. Each row is a team and only the student at the front of each row participates at any one time. As the teacher you can either: 1) ask an open ended question that fits into the theme or 2) instigates a conversation using the themed vocabulary. The first student who responds correctly moves to the back of the row and the student behind this student is now the representative of that row. Once every student of a row has successfully represented (has won the race and went to the back of the row) that row sits down. Game ends either when all students are sitting or when teacher says it ends.


Wed Dec 02, 2015 2:24 pm
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