Listening game for vocabulary and grammar

teacher playing listening game with children using scarves drawing
17 Nov SAV No Comments

This fun game may be used to consolidate vocabulary and grammar. Use it with young children in small groups and one to one. There is a variant for larger classes.



Category: Step 2 listening

Group: Variants for small and big groups

Space: Yes for small group variation, no for big group

Pace: Excitable

Materials: None, but props enhance the fun


How to Play - small group variation

Stand in a space with learners around you. Children should be close enough to touch you with an outstretched hand. It is fun to play with props. Tie scarves around you, with each child holding on to the end of a scarf. Although this kind of prop is optional, the children love it. You may have two or perhaps three children holding on to the same scarf. Another option is to stand on a square of coloured paper, with children touching that square with one foot. Pupils must stay touching you, holding the scarf, or with one foot in the coloured square, until you say a magic word. When you say that word, try and ‘catch’ one of the children before they escape, releasing the scarf and running away to one of the classroom walls. When children reach a wall, they are safe. As an example, start by telling learners the magic word ‘mother’. Say ‘father, brother, sister, grandmother ... mother!’ When you say ‘mother,’ children run off, and you try and touch one of them. You could just try and touch a child before he or she has let go of you, or the scarf, without you moving from the spot. Alternatively, chase after a child, who must reach a wall before you touch him or her.


lightbulb for creative teaching tipsIt is generally best never to catch the children, as it can make them feel as though they have failed, so be sensitive to this, but do make convincing attempts to catch them and just miss!

• If you have a strong group member let him or her take your role in the game.

• Be careful that the children are not too close to each other so that they do not bump one another during the game.

Add variety by changing the way you say the words. Use a flat monotone for several words and then, suddenly, say a word with great enthusiasm. This alone can make some children let go of you even though you did not say the magic word.

Vary the game by changing the setup. For example, you may have pupils seated around you on the floor. When they hear the magic word, they get up and move away to safety. Another idea is to have children balance on one leg while listening for the magic word, and then clap and run away when they hear it. If a child cannot balance, or forgets to clap before running away, he or she does a forfeit.

If children become too noisy, play a couple of rounds in total silence (aside from the teacher). Being silent becomes part of the game.


How to play - Larger group variation

To use this idea in a classroom situation, where you have desks and chairs, use the magic word idea as described above, but this time the children sit down when they hear the magic word. The last one to sit down, if it’s obvious, does a forfeit.


Language ideas to use with this game

This game lends itself to any vocabulary. You may use short sentences, not just single words. For example, ‘train’ could be the magic word. Say ‘I like buses, I like cars, I like planes, I like … trains!’ To teach the past continuous, the magic word could be ‘reading’. Say sentences such as ‘I was driving; I was walking; I was reading!’


ESL Games for preschool book coverIf you like this game, here are more!

For fun listening and speaking games get my book of preschool games. Click this link to get it in instant PDF download. If you prefer paperback, you'll find iti on most Amazon sites, and other online retailers, or order it from your local bookstore. ISBN-13 978-1541133396.


For reviews and recommendations on this book see my reviews page, or Amazon.

"I totally recommend this book and I have been so happy and stress-free since I bought it. It gave me a clear understanding of how to teach pre-school kids. I am a new ESL teacher who was "freaking out" before reading it. Now I am a happy teacher looking forward to my lessons with my pupils. I will keep this book forever with me and it is my number 1 resource. I am just a little bit sad that I didn’t discover it earlier, it would have made my first months so more enjoyable and relaxed. I like the structure and the extra advice inside, contrary to other books, you don’t spend a lot of time thinking over the activities as it presents them so clearly. It improved my planning time and the quality of my lessons. I am now a happy customer, I also bought other resources from the author and they are really great. I love the stories and the fact that they come with clear lesson plans and resources already made, just have to press print. I prefer to laminate mine. Thank you so much for creating such fantastic resources."


Jessica Duguet Souber-Broglio, France,

Leave a reply

Follow blog

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.
Join 2,672 other followers

Blog categories