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Ten must-know whiteboard games

Ten must-know whiteboard games

One of your biggest classroom allies is right in front of you: the whiteboard. With a healthy dose of teamwork, competition, and movement, these ten activities are great for warm ups and revision throughout the semester. (It’s the perfect excuse to get yourself a new set of brightly-colored pens, right?)

Dictation race

Prepare by creating a list of sentences that are related to your unit of study or use your current target vocabulary. Divide your class into teams of around five students each and ask them to line up facing the board. Dictate a sentence to the first two students and repeat for clarity. They must run and write the first word on the board, then run back to their team and pass the marker to the second student, who runs to the board and writes the next word of the sentence. Correct spelling errors on the spot. Play continues until one team has successfully written the sentence in full.

Jeopardy

Jeopardy is easily adaptable to your target language and unit of study. Prepare a list of 25 questions over five categories, and assign different values to each question. You can use vocabulary (food, countries, history, clothing, music, trivia) or focus on grammar and English revision (see example table below).

Divide your class into groups of three to four. In turn, each group chooses a category and points value (e.g., “We choose Prepositions for 500 points”). Read them the corresponding question and give 30 seconds to confirm their answer. If correct, the group wins the points. If they are incorrect, the square remains “open” to continue play later. Play for a set amount of time—the team with the most points at the end is the winner.

Tip: Use symbols or differently colored pens to keep track of each group’s progress.

Comparatives and superlativesAmerican vs British spellingPrepositionsFalse friendsGerunds and infinitives
2525252525
100100100100100
200200200200200
500500500500500
10001000100010001000

 

Expanding text

Divide your class into two teams and decide which team will go first (Team A). Explain that the two teams are going to create a sentence bit by bit. Demonstrate then set a timer for three minutes. A representative from Team A writes a single word on the board. Then, Team B must create a short sentence from Team A’s word. Team A must then add to the sentence, making it slightly more complex. Play continues until the time is up. The team holding the marker when the timer buzzes loses.

Tic Tac Toe

Play this classic game as a competition between two groups, varying it by having students answer trivia or review questions to win the chance to add an “X” or “O” to the board.

Last letter first

Divide your class into small groups of around five students. Assign a topic, for example countries. The first students runs to the board and writes a word from that category. Example: Spain. The next student must write a word that starts with the last letter (in this case, “n”, perhaps New Zealand). The next student continues (Denmark), and the next (Kenya). Change topics and repeat.

Hot seat

Divide your class into two teams and ask them to choose a team member. The two representatives sit in front of the whiteboard with their backs to it. Write a word from your current lexical set behind the students (say, pineapple). Now, their team members have to describe the word to their student. As soon as one team has been successful, change students and words and repeat.

Variations:

  • Give two points for the first team to guess and one for the second.
  • Prevent clue givers from using their hands (it’s amazing how much more challenging that is!).
  • Put a list of words on the board and give teams a set time (say five minutes) to work through the words in the order they choose. Assign different points values to the words, to encourage strategic thinking.
  • Have the groups work through the same short list of words, but in a different order. This prevents students from listening to the competing team.

Pictionary, charades, and celebrity heads

A similar vibe to hot seat, these three games are known for their flexibility. Prepare by creating a stack of words, phrases, or cultural figures that your class has recently studied. You might like to experiment with playing as a whole class (where half competes against the other half) or in smaller groups with time limits.

Word dash

Write a series of homophones and other confusing words all over the board (say, air/heir, thirteen/thirty). Divide your class into two teams. The first student in each listens to you give a sentence (e.g., “She is the heir to the throne,” or “He’ll turn thirty next month”). They must run to the board and circle the correct word. Score points for being first.

Grammar dash

You can adapt the basic structure of “word dash” to grammar. For example, if your class is studying the present perfect tense, create two groups and divide your whiteboard into two columns. Add a list of infinitive verbs to each column (use the same list in a different order to avoid copying). Students take turns to run to the board and convert the verbs to their past participle form (e.g., go -> gone, break -> broken, know -> known). Do an example, then set a timer to encourage competition.

Crocodile

Students choose coordinates from a 6 x 6 grid you have drawn on the board, each square of which corresponds to a question. Assign points for correct answers. However, some questions have crocodiles hiding beneath them lying in wait ready to eat points. If a student guesses the coordinates of a square hiding a crocodile, they lose their points to its hungry jaws.

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