Teaching is an art that requires lots of creative ideas, technological skills, and command of various tools to ensure a nice and engaging classroom environment. Sometimes even the coolest lesson plans with interactive exercises turn out to be not as efficient as we expected. The reason? Learners may get tired or bored, may not listen, and start talking with each other. There are lots of reasons why it happens:
- the topic is boring;
- too much of teacher talking time;
- the tasks are too difficult for students of this level;
- this is their last lesson of the day;
- the content is not relevant to your students’ interests, age or level.
If you see that your students are not focused on the lesson any more, it is high time to use energizers and to make them feel active again. Energizers can bring a dynamic change into the classroom irrespective of the learner’s age and level. Here are 7 of them.
1. Chip and Buzz
This energizer is more suitable for young learners. Ask your students to imagine two birds. One named Chip and the other named Buzz. If you call out “Chip”, the students need to stand on their toes and move their elbows out sideways. When you call out “Buzz”, the students have to stay still and may not move. If a student moves, he is disqualified. This student then may try to distract other students and get them out of the game, too.
2. “As if”
Read these sentences to your students and have them act out each sentence for 30 seconds.
- Search for a safe place as if a big bear is chasing you.
- Close your eyes as if you are going to jump from a cliff with a parachute.
- Dance as if you are taking part in a contest.
- Reach up as if grabbing balloons out of the air.
- Paint as if the paintbrush is attached to your head.
- Swim as if you are in the sea.
- Shake your body as if you are a wet cat.
Students act out each sentence for 20-30 seconds. They may also create their own sentences for additional activities.
This classroom game is more appropriate for the Pre-Intermediate level.
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3. Memory game
Tell participants that they are going to take a little rest. Invite them to sit as comfortably as they can, lean back, and close their eyes. You can play a short piece of relaxing music to make it easier for them to relax. After a minute or so, tell them that you will ask some questions, but remind them to keep their eyes closed. Then ask questions about the classroom setting or their classmate’s clothes or appearance.
- What colour are the walls in the classroom?
- What was written on the board?
- What do I have on my desk?
- How many chairs are there?
- What is Tom wearing?
- Is there a glass of water on my desk?
- What colour is your friend’s pencil?
- What colour is Ann’s dress?
This activity will help learners to relax first, and then to get focused again.
4. Name three things
It is a nice and active game that can be used with Pre-Intermediate and Intermediate levels.
Set a 1 minute time limit. Separate the class into two groups. Ask them to think about their team names. Hand out an equal number of cards to each of the groups and ask the first group to take one card and read the question on it. The other teammates then must answer the question as fast as possible.
The round of this game lasts one minute. Then it’s the second team’s turn. When both teams finish, count the number of questions on the cards they were able to answer. The one who has more cards wins.
Here are some examples of this game. You can add your own ideas too.
- Name 3 things made of plastic.
- Name 3 white things.
- Name 3 things that can fly
- Name 3 things you do with a potato.
- Name 3 words beginning with the letter «d».
- Name 3 winter pieces of clothing.
- Name 3 things you do in the morning.
- Name 3 objects in the kitchen.
- Name 3 things we eat for breakfast.
- Name 3 examples of fast food.
- Name 3 face parts.
- Name 3 red fruits.
- Name 3 things that make you smile.
- Name 3 things that you can smell right now.
- Name 3 things about your hometown.
- Name 3 things you can’t live without.
- Name 3 things that walk on four legs.
- Name 3 things you would never do.
- Name 3 things that you can see in the sky.
The game is suitable for Intermediate learners or higher, depending on the words you choose.
Rules: Each player must explain the words that they have on the card without using the taboo words on the list. If the participants guess the word, they get one point.
6. Never have I ever
“Never Have I Ever” is the perfect energizer for your tired students. It requires only a few minutes of preparation. You can easily do during online classes, and it helps you see what things students have in common with each other.
Each person holds up a hand or a card with “Never” and takes turns sharing a statement about something they have never done, while saying: “Never have I ever…” If anyone has done the action described in the statement, they show the card with “I have”.
- Never have I ever cheated on a test.
- Never have I ever eaten someone else’s lunch from the office fridge.
- Never have I ever fallen asleep in public.
- Never have I ever fallen asleep at work.
- Never have I ever lied on my resume.
- Never have I ever read a partner’s text messages.
- Never have I ever sung in public.
- Never have I ever accepted a drink from a stranger.
- Never have I ever lied about my salary.
- Never have I ever called a partner the wrong name.
- Never have I ever thought a friend’s baby was ugly.
- Never have I ever Googled someone before a date.
- Never have I ever purposely given someone bad advice.
- Never have I ever eaten an entire pack of Oreos in one sitting.
- Never have I ever shared a news story without reading past the headline.
- Never have I ever cried at work.
- Never have I ever cried in public.
- Never have I ever gone more than 10 days without showering.
- Never have I ever gone more than a day without brushing my teeth.
Turn on some music for 1 minute, and ask the participants to listen and write a scenario that they associate with the music. It can be a horror film, a romantic comedy, or a thriller. This type of activity may come in handy for Upper Intermediate students.
Both energizers and lesson materials are vital for a successful English lesson. These were the types of games I usually use with my students. And of course, you can also add your own ideas and adjust them to your classroom.