We all know primary students learn through playing games. You cannot ask them to do typical boring exercises. Well, you can, but that won’t be effective. Students will be demotivated and will lose interest. In this article, I’ll share some of the ideas of the games you can use to practise grammar and vocabulary.
1. Volleyball game
Divide students into 2 teams, give them a ball or a balloon. Have students from one team throw a ball and say a target vocabulary word or a sentence with a target grammar structure. Take turns.
2. Pass the ball gift
You need flashcards with target vocabulary or pieces of paper with prompts for making sentences to practise target grammar. Wrap small presents or sweets or pieces of paper with points in flashcards or paper with prompts. So you will have several layers. Play music. Have students pass the ball gift; when the music stops, the student that has the ball opens the first layer and makes a sentence with a target vocabulary or grammar. Then, play music again and the students pass the ball again.
You need a box and pieces of paper with written target words on them. Divide students into 2 teams. A student from team 1 takes a piece of paper and tries to explain the target word to their team. If you need to practise grammar, you may ask them to use certain grammar structures to practice the target form. You can set the timer for the team to guess, e.g. 2 minutes. The team that guesses more is the winner.
4. Race lines
Divide students into two lines in front of the board. Whisper a target word or a sentence with a target grammar structure to the students at the ends of two lines. Students have to whisper it to the next student and so on. The team that first writes the whispered word or structure on the board gets a point.
5. Ball and box
Have two teams. Give a ball to one team and a box with flashcards/written prompts/questions to another team. Play music. Have students from both teams pass the ball and the box in a circle. Stop music. The student that has the box takes out the piece of paper and the student that has the ball answers the question or names a picture. Have teams swap the box and the ball and repeat.
6. Pop the balloon
This game can be played with students that can read. Write a sentence and cut out each word. Put all the words in the balloon and blow it up. Bang the balloon and have students run, collect the words and order them to make a sentence. If your students only learn to read, they can pick up a word and try to read it. If they can, they keep the piece of paper. The one who has more is the winner.
7. Running dictation
Student A reads a text on the wall and runs to Student B and tells A as much as they remember. Student B writes it on the wall. Then, Student A runs back to the wall, reads and remembers the next part and runs to Student B. The fastest and the most accurate team is the winner. You can have some letters missing in the words to have students unscramble the target vocabulary. Or you can mix up the words in the sentences to have Student A order the words first.
Write 10 sentences with the target language on the board. Give the students 1 minute to remember them. You can divide the students into teams and pairs. Rub off a part of the sentence (it can be a target word or a part of the grammar structure). Have each student/pair/team remember the sentence. Then, rub off another part and repeat. The team that remembers more is the winner.
Prepare cards with questions about the target language, for example, flashcards with wrong/correct words or definitions on them; or sentences with wrong/correct grammar structures, etc. Each card has its values, e.g. 2$, 5$ and so on. The value is written on the back of the card. You can divide students into pairs, teams or they can play on their own. Have each student/pair/team choose a card and set a task (e.g. name a card, make a sentence, correct the wrong definition or sentence, etc.) If they do this task, they win the money. If they don’t, they lose. The team that has more money at the end is the winner.
10. Snow fight
Each student writes sentences about themselves using the target language. You can prepare prompts if necessary. Then, play the “winter” music, have students make snowballs, stand in 2 lines and throw the balls to each other for 30 seconds. When all the snowballs are mixed, each student picks up a random ball, read sentences and tries to guess whose ball it is. With stronger students, you can ask them to read silently, remember and then retell what they’ve read to each other.
11. Another ball game
Students stand in a circle, throw a ball and make sentences with the target language in turn. They cannot repeat. If they do, they are out. One student stands in the middle and tries to catch the ball. If they do, they stand in a circle and the thrower stands in the middle. If the ball is dropped, the thrower is out.
Throw flashcards from one part of the room to another as they are stepping stones. Tell students that the floor is lava and they can step only on the flashcards. But they can do so only if they name a picture/make a sentence with it/etc.
Have fun with your lessons and have meaningful vocabulary and grammar practice!