For Teachers: Play time ideas


Activities and games are a great way to learn and practice a new language. It is mutually beneficial for both teachers and students.

Teachers can teach through games. Students, especially younger ones, can have fun, practice what they have learned during the first part of the lesson, get to know the teacher, and at the same time learn something new. Just as athletes have to put their knowledge into action, so students have to practice their brains "in the real world".

Using playtime well will keep your students engaged and they will have fun while learning and also have a feeling that they can already use what they learned in conversation, imitation of the real world by understanding games or videos.

In this article, we've put together some engaging, informative, and fun games and activities for students.


We know that we are not just playing to have fun, but to practice what the student has learned during the class. So, when choosing play-time activities, have in mind these simple rules:

  1. The aim of the activity is for the student to use what he/she has learned during the first part of the class - the vocabulary, structures, or at least the lesson theme.
  2. Playtime activities should be fun and interesting for the student. It cannot look like a coursebook or just another exercise with multiple choices. For children, it should look like a game or a video, be colorful, and reflect their hobbies and general children's interests. For adults, it shouldn't look like something from school, but like something from their real world. Conversations are also considered as a good play-time activity if they fulfill rule number 1.
  3. Keep track of your time spent on playtime activities. The play-time activities should start at about half of the lesson's time (cannot start earlier but can start later if needed), they should last for about 5-20 minutes and continue almost to the end of the class (until the wrap-up and saying goodbye which is like 2-3 minutes before the end of 25-minute classes and 5 minutes before the end of 50-minute classes). If you feel like you are having fun on and off during the whole lesson, you don't have to keep accurate time track of when you started and finished your play-time, unless you think you have spent at least 30% of your class learning by having fun.

Where to get playtime activities and ideas from?

Use your imagination, but here are some tips:

Where to get playtime activities and ideas from?

Use your imagination, but here are some tips:

  • Teaching materials - some of our teaching materials already contain games and videos so you don't have to prepare or search for anything. Some Teaching materials have a Teacher's book with plenty of games and ideas.
  • Youtube - we like learning through videos. Just make sure that the video contains the right vocabulary or sentence structures. For example, if you are teaching English clothes vocabulary to a child, go to youtube (or a similar online video source) and search for "clothes English kids" and choose any video that comes up. You can use videos made for language learners, songs you can dance to, or just normal cartoons or parts of movies, songs, anything. Just make sure you know how to use videos in class.

  • Online games - there are many online games and the same way as with videos, you can go to Google (or another search tool), write for example "clothes online game" and choose one of the games that pop up. Same as with videos, make sure the student TALKS during the game. Soon you will have a bunch of good game websites that you can use for most of your classes. I personally like the site.
  • Other games - You can find many board games online. Or think of any word game you liked as a kid. Guess what I am thinking of, or alphabet games are more fun than you think. You can also use the games you have on your computer. For example, when teaching room vocabulary and furniture, I used The Sims game from my computer, shared the screen, and the adult student loved it so much that she started to build her own house in every class and couldn't stop. So using addictive games is not a bad idea :-)
  • Conversation - this can be used for any level and age as a great playtime activity, for any theme that you teach. The more advanced and older the students are, the more interesting it gets. You can simply talk about the theme, ask about student's interests, memories, ideas, or opinions about the theme. You can also find many conversation ideas online, just write for example "Clothes conversation ideas" into your search browser.
  • Role-play - create a "real-life situation" by choosing a roles for you and the student and talk about a chosen theme.
  • Reading - anything from comics through stories and blogs. The whole internet is available.
  • Authentic material - learning about clothes, open a website of a clothes shop, and act as you are shopping for clothes. Any theme you have, imagine where might the student need that in real life and start planning or doing it together - choosing a holiday destination through a real tour office; choosing a meal on a website of a restaurant, seeing a zoo website when teaching animal vocabulary, etc. Possibilities are endless...

A list of possible games:

A-Z Game

Students should come up with words related to a certain topic and should start with every letter of the alphabet from A to Z. For example, for the topic "food", the words would be "apple", "butter", "cheese". etc.

Fitting In

Show your students a bowl, a flower pot, a basket, or any similar item, and suggest that they name the items that would fit into this bowl/pot/basket.

Word chain

Toss an imaginary ball to each other and name the words that start with the last letter of the previous word, forming the chain. For example, "ball" - "lamp" - "pie", and so on.

Empty Comics

Find a comic strip and wipe out the words from the bubbles. The students should guess what the comic characters are saying.

Simple Show and Say

Show a flashcard, say the word and invite the child to repeat it. Then add one word to it and continue adding words until the child is not able to repeat everything. You can then make it more fun by asking the child to show you some object they have nearby and tell you words to repeat. If you do so, make some intentional mistakes so you make similar long sentence. For example: cat - a cat - an orange cat - an orange cat sits. - an orange cat sits and meows - a big orange cat sits and meows...

We hope that these playtime ideas will help you plan more effective lessons for your students and keep them involved throughout the online lesson.