Listening game for vocabulary and grammar
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
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.
• It 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!’
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