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How to Use Games in Classroom

The first thing you should do when start teaching is to figure out how to organize your class. For the younger students, you will want to change your activities every five to ten minutes because they have shorter attention spans. If you do not alter activities at a rapid pace, the kids start losing interest. As you get towards the higher elementary grades, you can expand the time you spend per activity. The best way to gauge this is to pay attention to your class for the first few days to see what length of time works the best for them. Additionally, try to have everything ready to go before the students enter the classroom. That way you can go from activity to activity with minimal downtime.

If you notice that your class is getting noisy or rambunctious, it's time to change activities. Kids are active and like to be active; in order to balance out the energy levels in the classroom, alternate between active activities and quiet activities. If you have a large class you will need games that do not degenerate into chaos. This will leave you exhausted and the children ignorant! Also important is that the language in the game should be well within the grasp of the children. Start simply and increase the difficulty of the language, or increase the amount of vocabulary in a given game gradually. If you see that the children are hesitating too much in a game switch to an easier game immediately.

Be careful how you use activities that require fine motor skills, or more importantly, pay attention to your expectations for activities that require fine motor skills. Children in preschool and early elementary are just learning to write in their own languages. This is not the best time to bog them down with writing in English as well. It is better to spend the bulk of the lesson time on listening and speaking skills for the younger children. As they progress through elementary school, however, you can begin using games and activities that require them to write small amounts.

Make sure your activities appeal to all sorts learning styles, so even when you are using games to teach grammar, vary the types of things you expect your students to do. For preschool and early elementary grades, stick to games that use talking, listening, looking and moving. For middle and high elementary, you can continue to use games that use talking, listening, looking and moving, and add in some games that use writing and reading.

Going along with this same idea, think about what children learn from the easiest. Television commercials that are short and catchy are the ones that are memorable and repeated often. Keep these characteristics in mind when you are teaching grammar to your students, and incorporate these characteristics into your daily activities.


Teach your students from the very start that you expect respect at all times. This includes giving encouragement and following the rules. Also, make sure the rules for all of the games are clear and manageable. When there is an environment of respect in the classroom, the students will feel safe enough to participate in the games so that they can get the most educational value out of them.

Even if you only have your students for a short time every week, establishing a routine will help the class go smoothly. Children thrive on routine and if they know what to expect next, they will be more able to participate in what is going on now. Set up a schedule throughout the class, whether it is a game, story or song or whatever you want to do. Then, when you are planning your class, plug in the appropriate activities to each section of time. You should also leave a little time at the end of the class period to allow the students to clean up and gather their things, as well as time for you to recap the class, praise the students and tell them good-bye.

You can also designate a "sign" to use to signal to the students when it is time to change activities. Things, such as clapping or signing a specific song, will allow them to know it's time to return to the circle or desks.

Perhaps the most important thing you can do with your students is to nurture them everyday. For each child in your class, find something you like about him or her and be sure to tell him or her. Be encouraging, patient and kind while playing games and participating in activities. They will like (and respect) you as a teacher and a person, which will in turn help them get excited about your class.

Keeping these tips in mind, and you will be able to teach children grammar with ease. You will be having fun, and they will be having fun---so much fun, in fact, that they might not even realize they are learning in the process!

Here are some great websites we recommend:

Sticky Ball
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ESL Teachers Board
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ESL at About.com
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