Everyone knows you’re a busy teacher.
If you weren’t, you wouldn’t be here looking for easy ideas to teach language to your ESL students. But just because you are busy doesn’t mean you have to be boring in class. That’s why this article is a great resource for you. Here are eight simple games you can do in class that don’t need anything other than an eraser – something almost every student in your class is sure to have handy. And since the best games are those that teach some aspect of language, these do that, too. So get ready to have fun in class and work your students’ brains as they play these fun and purposeful (and simple) games.
8 Simple Games You Can Play with Just an Eraser
Ask Me a Question
Asking and answering questions is good for any ESL student. For lower level students, simply forming questions and answers is beneficial to their language learning. For more advanced students, content and vocabulary are the bigger challenge when asking and answering questions. You can target either in this simple speaking and listening game. Have your students stand in a circle, and give one person the eraser. That person will ask a question and then toss the eraser to someone else in the circle. (You won’t have to worry about destruction of your classroom either, since erasers are generally small and rubbery and not particularly destructive.) The person with the eraser now answers the first question and then asks another of his own before tossing the eraser to another student. Continue in this manner until everyone has both asked and answered at least one question.
Don’t Hang the Man
Hangman is a popular game in the ESL classroom, and rightly so. But you can switch it up a little bit by playing this version where students erase body parts rather than add them. Start by having one person choose a word or phrase and writing blank spaces for each of its letters. Then have that same person write out the letters A through Z below it. The other player will draw a simple stick figure on that paper or a separate sheet. Whenever the guesser gets a letter wrong, she erases one of the body parts on her stick figure. The other player keeps track of the letters that have been guessed by erasing each one from the list as it is called. If the stick figure is completely erased before the player guesses the word, the game is over.
How Cloze Can You Get?
Cloze activities are simple fill in the blank exercises where every fifth word from a paragraph is omitted. Students must then fill in the blanks with words that fit both the content and the grammar of the sentence. In this activity, have students start by writing out a paragraph in pencil on a piece of paper. After you check it for any mistakes, ask the writer to erase every fifth word (or another interval you choose). Students should then switch papers and try and fill in the blanks on their friend’s paper.
It’s a Mad, Mad World
In a similar vein to the Cloze exercise, have your students make up their own mad lib games. Starting with a paragraph they wrote and you checked, have writers erase around twenty content words. Nouns, verbs, adjectives, and adverbs are best to erase. As they erase their words, have them list what part of speech they are erasing on a separate piece of paper and number the blanks on the paper and the parts of speech on their list with the same numbers. Once their lists of omitted parts of speech are complete, have students switch only their lists (but not their paragraphs) with a partner. The partner then lists words on the second sheet that meet each part of speech requirement. Once they have all of them listed, partners should switch the lists back and replace the blanks on their paragraphs with the words their classmates listed. Students can then read the new paragraphs aloud and laugh at the silly content they have created.
It’s in the Bag
If everyone in your class has an eraser, try this simple game. Put all the erasers in a bag and mix them up. Then have one student reach into the bag and grab an eraser without taking it out. That person should then describe the eraser – how it feels, what shape it is, etc. From that description, your students should try and guess whose eraser it is. After a few students make guesses, have the first student take the eraser out of the bag and show it to the class. Have the owner of the eraser claim it and take the next turn grabbing an eraser in the bag.
This fun game will test your students’ physical skills as well as their knowledge of the English language. Start by creating a grid of questions on a large piece of paper. You can have students make their own as well. The grid should be arranged like a dartboard where the very center is worth more points than the spaces in the outer areas. Have students label the number of points for each space on the grid and write questions from their textbooks there. To play the game, one person stands three to four feet away from the paper and throws his eraser. He must then answer the question in the box on which his eraser landed. If he answers correctly, he gets that many points. If his answer is incorrect, he scores no points that turn. Give each player at least three turns. At the end of the game, the player with the most points wins.
Rather than tossing a coin to determine heads or tails, your students can flip their erasers. Have each person draw a head and a tail on opposite sides of their eraser. Students will be working on an exercise from their text books and will take turns flipping their erasers like a coin. If the eraser shows heads, the flipper must answer the next question from the book. If the eraser shows tails, the non-flipper answers the question. Continue until all the questions in the exercises have been answered.
Preposition Throw Down
If you are practicing prepositions of location, try this fun activity. Give students a target such as a cup or a hat. Then have students take turns throwing their eraser at the target. If they get it in, they score a point. If they miss, they must describe where the eraser is, correctly using a preposition of location in their answer If they can do this, they also score a point. The person with the most points at the end of the game wins.
These are just a few of the fun games you can play with nothing more than an eraser.
What other activities have you tried in class? Share them in the comments section below so we can all join in on the fun.