10 online ESL games and activities for teaching kids and teens

New week, more technology!

Today, I thought I should share with you 10 different games & activities I usually use with my young learner students (6-12 years old) in the online classroom. So without further ado, get an egg (no kidding ! For activity 4) and let’s go!

1. GeoGuessr

I love playing GeoGuessr myself and have recently used it with my students. This is a geography game where players need to locate and pinpoint themselves on a map by recognising their surroundings looking at Google Street view images. This activity can be used in many contexts but my favourite is using it to practise modal verbs of deductions. e.g. This could be Argentina because signs are in Spanish. / This can’t be in the UK because they drive on the right.

Can you guess which country this is? Check the answer at the end of the article.

2. What’s the mystery word? 

This is an adaptation of the classic ‘backs to the board’ game. You send a private message with a word or phrase to one of the students using the chat function. The student then explains the mysterious word (or mime!) while the remaining students try to guess what it is. Alternatively, with younger students, you can play a version of Pictionary and students can draw the word on the whiteboard for their team to guess.

3. Baamboozle 

Baamboozle is a great platform where you can create games and quizzes for your classes or search for an activity (over 100,000 available!) created by other teachers. Here’s an example of a game to practise countable and uncountable nouns. Students choose a number and in teams, they complete the gaps. If they get it right, they win points for their teams.

Similar to Baamboozle is Wordwall, another excellent website where you can create fun games for your students. Check out Anthony’s video below on how to use Wordwall if you missed it.

4. ‘Zooming out’ 

This is a low-tech activity (but very fun!). Show an object very close to the camera. Students guess what it is, as you ‘zoom out’ the object, away from the camera. As a follow-up, students can do the same and show the class an object, first very close to the camera and slowly zooming out. This activity is very popular with my groups, especially with the little ones (6-10 years old).

5. ‘Counting to 10’

The objective of the game is to make the whole group count to ten. Sound easy, right? You can start by saying ‘one’ then another student says ‘two’, and another says ‘three’, and so on. But here’s the catch: if two people say a number at the same time, we have to start counting again. Alternatively, you can say a word and students spell it, using the same instructions. It’s quite challenging, I must say, but it helps the little ones to understand the concept of taking turns to speak.

6. What’s this in English?

Ask your students to get an object which they think the remaining students will not know its name in English. They show the object to the camera and others try to guess its name. It’s a great warmer activity and it is AMAZING to see how much your students know already. Variation: if none of the students knows the name of the object, they can use a search engine and name the object.

7. Online Scavenger hunt

Another energising game, for when your students need a break. You give students an object to find (e.g. a clean sock) and whoever shows it on camera first gets a point. To make it less competitive, you can allow a minute, for example, for all the students to find this object.

8. Lip-reading

Here’s one of my absolute favourite activities! After the target language is introduced, mute your microphone and read one of the new words. Students read your lips and try to guess the word. It’s quite challenging but students love it! You can repeat this process by putting students in pairs in Breakout rooms, guessing each other’s words

9. Build the highest tower

Ask kids to build a tower with what they have around them (books, cups etc) in a minute. Whoever gets the tallest one wins. It’s a really quick and fun game to give students a brain break. You can also get students to practise comparatives or superlatives, for example my tower is taller/more colourful etc than Jim’s.

10 – Quizziz

You probably have heard of Kahoot! before, right? Quizziz, in my opinion, is even better! The biggest advantage of Quizziz is that whether you’re playing live or asynchronously, the questions are always displayed on their devices without the need of sharing your screen. That’s very useful because you may have students using mobile devices to connect to your lesson and who are, therefore, not able to see your shared screen at the same time

That’s it! Hope you like some of the activities written here. Write on the comments section below which is your favourite!

Answer to the GeoGuessr picture: Russia

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Anthony Antonopoulos

About Luiz Gutierrez 2 Articles
DELTA qualified EFL Teacher, Teacher Trainer and lifelong learner

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