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Clowning Around in the ESL Classroom

June 12, 2018

The last few weeks of school are often centered around review and having fun. Here are three silly games to try along with some materials from our Young Learners & Literacy section.

1. Clown Around

Suggestion: Use this game with our Simple Present lesson in our Fun Grammar Lessons section.

This game is like Simon Says, except the person at the front of the room is the Class Clown. The Class Clown cannot laugh! If a student makes him/her laugh, they get to switch places. However, students must always follow the Class Clown’s commands. The ringmaster (you, the teacher) decides what constitutes as a laugh!

There are 5 things the Class Clown can say (write these on the board):

  • “The Class Clown says, do a disappearing act!” [students hide or try to get as small as possible]
  • “The Class Clown says, do an animal act!” [students pretend to act or sound like an animal]
  • “The Class Clown says, do a balancing act!” [students balance something on their heads or stand or hop on one leg]
  • “The Class Clown says, clown around!” [students make a silly face or act as silly as possible]
  • “Clown around!”*

*Just as in Simon Says, the students have to freeze if they don’t hear “The Class Clown says…” before a command. Whoever accidentally clowns around has to sit out for a shift.

Teach your students the English expression “class clown” (the person in the class who is always telling jokes or getting people to laugh).

2. Dizzy Dictionary

Suggestion: Try this game with any of ESL Library’s Word Bank lessons.

  1. Create a theme‑based vocabulary word list (e.g., Zoo Animals) that has as many words as students in your classroom. Write each word on a slip of paper (or simply print the flashcards that go with the lesson). Hand one word to each student.
  2. Ask your students to write an easy definition or synonym for their word on a separate piece of paper. (Help your students with sentence structure.) Students will hand in their definitions.
  3. Mix up the definitions and hand one out to each student. Each student should now have one word and one definition (most won’t match).
  4. Tell your students to stand up in a line or circle to become a Talking Dictionary! The students will read their word and definition out loud one at a time (most will be mixed up and won’t make sense).

    Ella: Octopus – not a real fish, shaped like a star

  5. After everyone has read out their silly match, give students 5–10 seconds to wildly trade definitions in an attempt to create the correct Talking Dictionary. (To keep it fun, don’t give them enough time to get it all correct during the first switch.)
  6. When the 10 seconds are up, tell the students to get back in place and read the entire dictionary out loud again. Did they get it right this time? If not, give them another five seconds. Repeat until the Talking Dictionary is 100% correct. You might also encourage students to organize themselves in alphabetical order.

3. Manner Police

Suggestion: Try this game after you use our Adverbs of Manner lesson from our Fun Grammar Lessons section.

  1. Prepare two small blank slips of paper per student.
  2. Ask your students to come up with as many action verbs as there are students in the classroom. You, the teacher, will write each suggested word on a slip of paper. Place these words in an envelope or pile.

    Here are some examples: dance, sing, walk, jump, eat, write, wait, talk, laugh, sit down, pass, stand up, whisperchew

  3. Now challenge your students to come up with the same number of adverbs of manner. Write each adverb on a separate slip of paper and place these in a separate pile or envelope.

    Here are some examples: carefully, quietly, happily, slowly, nervously, loudly, politely, blindly, nicely, sleepily, fast, well, gently, angrily, crazilyhungrily.

  4. Now, hand out one verb and one adverb to every student. (Students must not show each other their words.)
  5. Tell your students to stand up and form a circle or line.
  6. Choose a student who is standing quietly to stand in the middle of the circle (or front of the line). This student is the Manner Police.
  7. Now, tell all of the other students to act out what’s in their hands (e.g., whisper slowly, jump blindly).
  8. The Manner Police must try to guess what the other students are doing.

    Manner Police: Paul is skipping hungrily.

    Paul: Yes!

    If the Manner Police guesses correctly, the student doing the action gets to sit down. (Paul can’t lose the game.)

  9. The other students continue acting out their modified verbs. Every time the Manner Police makes an incorrect guess, everyone who is still playing has to exchange one word (verb or adverb) with another player.**

    Manner Police: Elena is laughing loudly.

    Elena: Nope!

    Teacher: Switch words!

    The goal is to NOT be the last student standing. The last student standing goes to grammar jail.

    **As the teacher, you can decide if you want to change who the Manner Police is during play to give other students a chance to guess. You may also want to yell Switch after three wrong guesses.

We hope you have fun clowning around with your kids!


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Comments (1)

Victoria B.(Teacher)

Clowns are not allowed in any format in my school. At all.
The rest of your games sound fun, though.

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