Hacky Sack Madness: One can use any "tossable" object and simply practice vocabulary or conjugation. Toss the object from one student to the next as the teacher calls out a tense or general topic, allowing for the student to think quickly about a specific vocabulary word or form. For example: The teacher says "Clothing" so the first student says "pants", the second "hat" and so on. After about 4-5 students the teacher calls out a different category such as "animals" and so on. One could also use this activity in regard to verbs such as using the verb "run" the teacher could say "present tense, past tense, future tense" and the next three students would have to answer accordingly.
Pick-Up!: The teacher can either draw or write vocabulary on small scraps of paper. The teacher places the scraps of paper on a large surface or on the ground. The teacher will then call out the word or describe the picture and the first student to pick up the correct picture or word wins that card. After all the cards are picked up, make sure each student has at least one card and each student has to use the word or picture they have in a sentence.
Hot Spot: Divide the class into two teams. The teacher gives the students a list of comprehension questions concerning a reading and gives the students the appropriate amount of time to find the answers. The teacher calls two students to the front of the room to sit at opposite sides of a table. Place an object in the middle of the table (e.g. hacky sack, stuffed toy, anything that won't stab the student). The teacher reads a question allowed and the first student to grab the object from the middle of the table and answer the question correctly in a complete sentence wins a point. If the students take notes prior, don't let them bring the answers with them to the table. The students are only allowed to bring the book or text. This allows for them to practice reading and scanning of the text during the competition.
Uno Questions:Use Uno cards to have kids talk about their lives/hobbies/opinions. Make each color a different category (things like Family, Hobbies, etc). Students choose a card, and you ask them a question pertaining to that color. For example, if they choose blue and blue means Interests, you ask them about their favorite band. Often I'll have yellow mean a Ukrainian word, so they'll tell me a slang word in Ukrainian and what it means in English. They love that! I also have black mean that they can ask a question to anyone in the room, which they love doing. This is good for 10th and 11th formers; though you have to make sure they keep it appropriate (especially if you're going to let them explain slang or ask questions).
Continent/Country QuestionsMake cards with different countries or continents. Have students get into small groups. Each group chooses a country/continent. Have them make up sentences to describe their place (sometimes they may need help). They then present it to the room, and other groups have to guess. It's good for teaching them a little bit about different countries, as well as using geography/travel vocab.
Back to the Board: The class is divided into two teams, who sit together on opposite sides of the room. One student from each team stands with their backs to the board, and the teacher writes a word (phrase, whatevz) in English on the board. The teams then have to communicate that word to their player in the front of the room. I have used both "charades" and "taboo" elements, sometimes both at once. They cheat at this game a lot, though, so you have to watch carefully.
Answer Run:Divide the class into as many teams as you have columns of desks (3 or 4), and have them go sit in/around the back desks. Each group gets one piece of paper, which must be written on only on the last desk. Ask them some questions/give them some grammar task to do/sentence to correct/whatevz and they have to write as fast as possible. When they are done, one of the students from the team has to run it to the teacher's desk in the front; the first acceptably correct variant wins a point for their team. A way to involve more of the students is to make them each take a number, and then have it so only "X number" can write on this or that round. This game can get crazzzzzy.
Paper Toss:Put a chair, bucket or something in front of the room, separate the pupils into teams. If their team gets a question right, they win the chance to toss a paper ball at the target from some point in the room. Different points can be awarded for hitting the object in different places, getting it in/on, missing completely and so on. A good idea is to only have one paper ball in play, otherwise the kids go wild and the room is covered in paper and tears at the end of the lesson.
Tank: Children are paired up. One set of partners is blindfolded, and the other set of partners forms a circle around the blindfolded. In the circle are tennis balls. The blindfolded children must try to pick up the tennis balls, throw them, and hit other children, while avoiding getting hit themselves. They must listen to their partner for directions.
The Vegetable Game:There is a rhythm, made by hitting your hands on the table and clapping. You pick a vegetable, and when you hear your vegetable, you must say yours and then the vegetable of someone else, in rhythm. (Kind of like Big Booty) For added hilarity, contestants must put their lips over their teeth like babucias.
Electric chair:One student sits in a chair at the front of the classroom. All the other students get to ask the student questions about topics studied in the class. If the student does not answer correctly and with correct grammar within five-ten seconds (you decide) the chair shakes and electrocutes the student back to his/her seat and the next student is up.
Snowball Fight:Give students a piece of white paper and have them write their names largely in the center of the paper. Tell students to crumple up the paper into a ball. Write a question on the board, such as "what is your favorite book?" Say "go!" and give the students 5-10 seconds to throw the "snowballs" at each other. Students should pick up a piece of paper around them and find the person whose name is on the paper, and then ask them the questions and write their answer on the paper. Repeat the process several times with different questions. To end the game, have students stand in a circle and read the answers to the questions from the piece of paper they've picked up. They should not announce the name on the paper. Give students a chance to guess whose paper it is before announcing the name. This game also works with vocab words in both English and Ukrainian and having to find the pair.
5 Things: Everyone first writes different things that they like on separate pieces of paper (Flowers, football, chemistry etc.). After many slips of paper are written (about 10 or more for each person) you put all of the slips face down in the middle of everyone. Everyone then has a sheet of paper where they write down the number one through five. So let’s say I go first. I will draw 5 pieces of paper and read what they say. I write on my paper which I like most to which I like least but do not show anyone else. Everyone else who is playing writes which they think I like most to which they think I like least. Then I reveal my answers and each person adds up their points. So if I had dogs as number three and Sasha had dogs as number three then he gets a point. Then it is the next person’s turn. You can go around as many times as you like then everyone just adds up their points at the end and the one with the most is the winner.
Ninja/Bear/Cowboy- Just like “Rock, Paper, Scissors” but children must stand and act out each character. They stand in pairs back to back and on the count of three spin! and show their partner what character they are. Ninja kills Cowboy, Bear kills Ninja, and Cowboy kills Bear. If kids are eliminated they sit down!
House of Teamwork:Children are put into groups of four. One person in the group is blindfolded, one cannot use their hands, and two cannot speak. They must build a house of cards working together with 15 cards.
Story Mix Up:Everyone gets five small sheets pieces of paper, which they label 1-5 on the top corners. On the first sheet students write a sentence. It makes the game more interesting the more funny or complicated the sentence is. Then everyone passed their whole stacks to the person on their right. Everyone looks at the sentence and then puts that piece of paper (#1) to the back on the stack. Then on paper #2 they draw a picture to show that sentence. After drawing, everyone passes to the right again. The next person can only see the picture and has to write a sentence about it. Then the next can only see the next sentence and has to draw a picture and so on until all the papers are used up. At the end, everyone should compare and share their stories with the class.
People to People:Standing in a circle, each person must find a partner. The leader stands in the middle and calls out two appropriate body parts. Partners must touch said parts. For example, “Finger to ear” partners touch finger to ear. Then the leader shouts out another pair of parts, “Foot to knee”. Players must keep “finger to ear” and then touch “foot to knee”. When the partners start to fall, the Leader shouts “People to People” and players run around finding a new partner. The Leader also finds a partner, leaving one player as the new Leader.
Energy: Students split up into two teams and sit opposite, facing the other team in a straight line. At the front of the line is the Leader and a coin. At the end of both lines, there is one stuffed toy or handkerchief in-between the last two players. Students close the eyes (except the first two students) and hold hands. The leader flips a coin. If it lands on heads, the first person squeezes the hand of the next, and they squeeze the next and so on. The first player at the end to grab the handkerchief/toy moves to the front. First team to go through all of their players wins! Make sure everyone stays silent so the last players don’t grab too early. If there is a “false grab” they must move back to the front.
Human Knot: In a circle, students grab hands with two random people across the circle and try to “untie” their knot. To make it more challenging, silence some of the “leaders” of the group, or blindfold some.
Look Up: Players stand shoulder to shoulder in a circle looking down at their feet. On the count of 3, players must look up at someone in the eyes. If they make eye contact with someone they scream “AHH!” and are eliminated. Last player(s) to not make eye contact with anybody wins!
Musical Chairs…Unlimited!: Just like regular Musical Chairs, but instead of eliminating people, students must sit on laps to take their seat. As more chairs are taken away, the people on laps become stacked. In the end, everybody is sitting on the lap of the winner!
“Have You Ever Seen a….”One group/table sings “Have you ever seen a [insert compound word, nounverb only: e.g., fishbowl]? A fishbowl? A fishbowl? Have you ever seen a fishbowl? Now you think of one.” Then another table answers with another compound word, for example: “Have you ever seen a butterfly? A butterfly? A butterfly? Have you every seen a butterfly? Now you think of one.” Get it? Humorous = fish can’t bowl and butter can’t fly.
Compound word examples: catfish, chickpea (HAHAHA), daydream, eggplant, earthquake, toothbrush, hairbrush, handshake, homework, horsefly, kidnap, lipstick, mailbox, moonshine (teehee), nightfall, piggybank, ragtag, sawdust, shipwreck, shoplift, sundial, starfish, sunrise, sunset, tablespoon (teehee), teardrop, thunderbolt, weekend, and last but not least: bedrock.
“Most of All”(Tune from “Yellow Submarine”):One group/table sings*: “We are the table [insert superlative: e.g., loudest] of all, loudest of all, loudest of all. We are the table loudest of all. Who is the table [insert new superlative: e.g., quietest] of all?” *They must yell—demonstrate that they are in fact the loudest. Then another table answers*: “We are the table quietest of all, quietest of all, quietest of all. We are the table quietest of all. Who is the table (e.g.) sleepiest of all?” *They must whisper—demonstrate that they are in fact the quietest.
Rock/Paper/Scissors on STEROIDS:Everyone starts out in squatting position, and has a R/P/S duel. Whoever wins then goes on their knees. Squatters can now only duel with squatters; kneelers, with kneelers. When a kneeler wins, s/he can stand. Still, you can only duel with people at your level. Whoever wins gets a special prize and general sense of accomplishment.
Link:This is best played in a larger group (20 or more people). You all start by standing in a circle. The first person says a true statement about his/herself. This can be anything from, “I am allergic to peanuts,” to “My favorite ice cream flavor is pistachio,” to “I love to do yoga.” Everyone listens to the statement and listens to hear if they share this thing in common with the person. If the statement also describes you, you yell “Link!” and you run to link arms with the person. This is a race, so the first person to shout Link or the first person to run and Link arms (depending on how you’d rather play) then links to the person and tells one fact about his/herself. You continue until everyone is linking arms and the first and last person must finish the circle by finding one fact they have in common so that the entire group is “linked” into one circle.
Survivor Man:Ask your students to name five objects and write them on the board. They can be anything, for example a chair, a pen, a cat, a teapot, a spoon, and a car. Next you give the students some sort of survival scenario. Some go-to scenarios are being on a plane that is about to crash, being on a sinking boat, or being in the ocean surrounded by sharks. Split the students into small groups of about 3. Tell them that they must survive the scenario using all five of the items they named. They must use all five, and each student must participate (speak) in the telling of their survival story. Tell them that crazier and more creative, the better!
The first person thinks of a word that begins with the letter of their name like Activist Anne. The next person then repeats Activist Anne and does the same with their name: example—Feminist Fred. Each person remembers all the names before.
You can also do it by stating “My name is Anne. I’m going on a picnic and I am bringing Apples” and do it in the same fashion. The next person says “Anne, Apples” and then “My name is Fred and I am bringing Freedom.”
Ball name game- with a ball ask someone across the circle their name- pass the ball to them, they then ask another person what their name is and pass to them, pass it all around the circle until it is back to the person who started. Continue another round but this time say the person’s name before passing them the ball. Try and go faster, faster. Then add another ball and then another. See how many balls you can have going at once.
How are you feeling?:Have students walk around in a circle. Ask them to show you different emotions as they’re walking. Tell them all to show you that they’re happy for example, or tired, or bored, sad, scared, anger, excited, sick, then end with happy—can’t stop moving, must continue to walk.
Crossing the River:You will need to make 2 “riverbanks” from chalk/rope/string/etc. Explain that they are trying to cross the “river” but that they must work as a team to do so. They will be given “stones” (made of paper, material, etc) and must think about how they can use the “stone” to get everyone across without stepping in the “water.” An added challenge is that at no point must they let go of a “rock”—someone must be touching them at all times. If one person steps in the water the group will be sent back. If they let go of a rock, it will be taken away from them. No taking your feet on top the rocks and sliding them across the river- you must pick up rocks and place them down. Let them think of a plan or two for around 5-10 minutes. For an added challenge, blindfold a few of the students.
Passing Through the Spider Web:You will need a lot of rope/string and 2 poles/trees to it around. It works best to create 2 main parallel horizontal lines first with the rope and then to add the “web” design. Then take more rope and create numerous triangles or rectangles with the 2 parallel ropes. You want them wide enough so children can fit through them. After creating the web, have a group try to get from one side to the other. The main rule is that they must each fit through a different gap. The second challenge is that they can’t touch the web or they will all need to start again. Allow students to brainstorm on how to proceed first.
Blindfolded Maze Walk:You will need chalk and a blind-fold. You will blindfold someone and have the others in the group try and direct them through a maze which they will draw only after the chosen person has been blindfolded. They can’t step outside the maze or they will have to start over.
Flip the Mat:You will need a mat, rug, or large piece of cloth. A pretty easy concept: get all your students from standing on one side of the mat to the other- a student can only be on one side at a time and can’t go back once they’ve stepped to the other side. The smaller the mat- the more difficult it is.
Over the Rope :You will need 1 piece of rope to tie between 2 poles or trees. Tie parallel to ground about 5 feet in the air. The goal is that everyone has to get from one side to other- they can’t touch the rope but they must go over the rope. An added challenge is telling the students that they must always be holding hands or touching another student during the entire activity.
Trust Falls:A few different types. 1: Have simple peer-to-peer trust falls- one person standing behind another and letting the other fall back a few inches to a foot. 2: Have a group ready to catch someone falling back from a slightly raised platform—maybe 4-5 feet up. The group faces each other and holds all their hands together to catch the person. Make sure everyone is ready before letting a student “fall.”
Blindfolded Circle Walks:The group stands in a circle. Pick a person to walk. Have them place each arm on their shoulders to protect themselves- but have them close their eyes and walk. The circle will catch the walking person, turn them around, and send them around the circle. Once they have mastered one person- add a second. The circle will then have to try and keep those walking from walking into one another. Try 3 people walking, then 4… Talk to them after about how they felt helping direct and how they felt closing their eyes and walking.
Blindfolded Trust Walk:Divide students into pairs. You will need a blindfold for each couple. Have them take turns wearing the blindfold. Have them walk around classrooms, up/down stairs, give high fives with other blindfolded peers, buy something at the bazaar, sit down, getting up, explore the world with a blindfold for around 10-15 minutes and then switch to the other partner. Once you have them all back discuss what it was like being the leader, being the follower, the trust involved. (Note: I’ve also had friends do this as a way to talk about disabilities and that uneven pavement becomes hard, stairs are hard, other senses become important- feel, taste, smell, hearing, etc.)
Capture the Flag:There are many different variations of this game. But basically, each team takes one half of a large field. Each team places their “flag” at the back of their half of the field. Teams must grab their opponent’s flag without being tagged on their opponent’s half of the field.
Steal the Bacon:2 teams trying to grab an item in the middle of the field/room. Both teams will be given numbers 1 through 10. The leader calls out a number. For example, call out 3 and both 3’s from both teams will try and grab the item and run it back before the other. The other can tag them before they cross their line to keep them from gaining a point though. You can also yell out doubles or triples of numbers- 7 and 5! 1,2, and 3!
Team Rock/Paper/Scissors:Everyone starts out individually playing rock/paper/scissors. However, when you lose, you start cheering for the person you lost to. Eventually everyone will be left cheering in a final round for two different teams.
Honey If You Love Me Smile:Everyone stands in a circle facing each other. One person is “it” in the middle. His/her goal is to make one other person in the circle smile. But the only thing he can say is “Honey, if you love me, smile.” Once the “it” person makes one person smile, they switch places and that person becomes the new “it” person.
Down by the Banks…:Everyone knows different lyrics to this, but this is what I learned: Down by the banks of the hankey pankey where the bull frogs jumped from bank to bank-y, where the eeps oops, soda pops. Hey Mr. Lilly Pad went ker-plops.
Story Telling:Start a story but continually stop and continue on to the next person, add to the story each time and if they can’t or stall- next person can start.
Wink Murderer (a good quiet-time game): Everyone sits in a circle, then closes their eyes. One person-- the leader-- walks around the circle and taps someone sitting down on the head. This person is the murderer. When the leader sits back down, s/he tells everyone to open their eyes. Everyone looks around to try to guess who the murderer is. However, if you look at someone and that person winks at you [you can decide-- either one eyes or two eyes closed, based on the winking skills of your group!], then you have been murdered and must die [either instantly or within three seconds-- another variation] and fall over/ back out of the circle. If you guess correctly before you're murdered, you're the leader for the next round. If the murderer kills everyone without being guessed, s/he is the leader for the next round.
The Big Wind Blows (running around): The group is divided in half, and sits in two rows of chairs facing each other-- with some distance between. The leader starts by saying "The big wind blows on... [and creates a category, such as 'people wearing black socks']!" Everyone who fits that category [ie, is wearing black socks] runs across to try to get a seat on the other side. However, each time, the leader takes a chair away from one or both rows. The last one sitting down is the winner.
Thumb Wrestling:Ask students to form groups of two (volunteers should participate if there is an odd number of students present). Tell students that there is a “Huge, Exciting Prize!” being rewarded to the person who wins the most thumb wrestling exercises. Allow the students to thumb wrestle for two minutes, then say, “Stop!” Ask them to raise their hands if they won 100 times? 50 times? 40 times? Everyone will think these numbers are unrealistic and be surprised by your question. Explain to the students that 100 times was a realistic number if they put aside their competitiveness and worked together to take home the prize by taking turns winning a thumb wrestling war vs. struggling to compete with their partners to win. Demonstrate exactly how you can take turns letting each other win. Encourage the students to continue to work together like this throughout the rest of the camp.
What Makes a Good Leader?:You will need large pieces of paper and markers. First discuss what a leader is and then tell them they will be creating their perfect leader in groups. In small groups ask students to draw the features (eyes/nose/mouth/ears/hair) of a good leader. Have them think about each body part—like big eyes so the leader can see every problem before it happens, a big nose to smell trouble (or would a big nose be like Pinocchio’s who told a bunch of lies?). Have them slowly draw each part of the body down to the feet of a leader. Then have them name their leaders, age their leaders, etc. Have them present and tell a little about why this is small or that is big, etc. Compare the different leaders groups have drawn. What is different? What is the same? Conclusion should be leaders come in all shapes and sized and that anyone can be a leader.
Relays:Some ideas: 3 legged races, fill water bucket with sponge, balloon in front or behind backs of 2 people, egg on spoon, eat/drink something as fast as they can, charades, Pictionary, puzzles, Soduku, etc.
Tag:You can play normal tag, or many different versions—touch-freeze tag, tunnel tag (to unfreeze you crawl under a person’s legs), tag where you try to run from one side to another but if tagged you join the tag guy in the middle frozen where you were tagged, partner tag (each person has a partner and you hold hands or link arms the entire game).
Hokey Pokey:Lyrics: You put your _____(body part) in, You put your _____(same body part) out, You put your _____(same body part) in, and you shake it all about. You do the Hokey Pokey and you Turn yourself around. That’s what it’s all about!