Archive for classics


Known as Noughts & Crosses in Britain and Morpian in France, Tic-Tac-Toe is incredibly versatile and useful in the classroom. Like Hangman, it lends itself well to using teams. One game of Tic-Tac-Toe can take anywhere from 5-10 minutes to complete, depending on the difficulty.

I will often use it to reinforce vocabulary by placing certain words in the spaces and then requiring students to produce a grammatically correct sentence incorporating the word in order to win the space. If I have the students in teams, the teams alternate in coming up with sentences until there is a winner, or, more likely, the game ends in a tie.

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A good game for any age that can fill 10-20 minutes. Hangman (Pendu in French) can be played a number of different ways, but it is always more successful if you split the class into teams.

Sometimes I will draw the hanged man on the board so the students have a standard picture to work from. Everyone draws him differently, and it makes a difference to the number of chances there are to guess letters.

To play with the teacher in control of the board:

  • No teams: the students guess letters individually
  • Teams: each team guesses a letter in turn

To play with the students in control of the board (requires teams):

  1. Choose a team to start (Team A)
  2. Team A chooses a word quietly among themselves and verify the spelling with the teacher, if necessary
  3. A representative from Team A goes to the board and marks the places for the letters
  4. Team B guesses a letter (hopefully after mutual agreement)
  5. Play continues until Team B has either lost or won
  6. Control of the board can then go to Team B, or it can stay with Team A if Team B lost (this is at the teacher’s discretion; I often alternate teams even if they have lost)

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Simon Says

We all know this game from childhood; in France, it is known as Jacques a dit. It’s great to play with 10-12 year olds, and it can take as long as you like (just keep playing more games if you need to fill more time). I have had students be so excited about it that they have refused to go to recreation period until the game is finished.

One caveat: make sure you have something for the students who are “out” to do. You cannot rely on them being interested enough to just watch the others keep playing.

I usually begin with a warm-up review of body parts or action verbs before having all the children stand in a group and begin play.

Always do the actions with the students so they can see what the words mean. It’s also a good way to catch them out if they aren’t listening.

I sometimes have small prizes like stickers for the winners, but I find they are usually not necessary.

A twist: If one student seems exceptionally good at the game, make him or her be “Simon”. He or she will need help from you to give the correct commands, but it’s great speaking practice.

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