Teaching online does not mean that class cannot be started with a warm-up activity. This is even more so for teachers who are suffering to present hybrid classes, with one half of the students in the class and the other half at home in front of a computer. Using online games is essential to get the remote students actively involved while keeping those in the classroom interested. The following warm-up exercises are easy and effective to use.
10 Online Games for ESL Class with Baamboozle
Baamboozle is a website where teachers can create their own fun, classroom games. It’s almost like a game show where the students get to pick their answers.
Simon Says is a tried and tested game that can now be played online. You ask the students to pick a number, then click on that number. If it is the one about a vacuum machine, you say: “Simon Says, vacuum the floor!” All the students have to copy what you do. Check okay, then click again. “Simon Says, hop on one leg!” And all the students have to hop. You say, “Wiggle your fingers!” and those who wiggled their fingers then lose a point.
Explain to them, “Oops! Wrong! I did not say Simon Says!” So, this is a fun way for them to practice words combined with TPR even though you are teaching ESL online. Make sure to go through to the very end of the game and then review their questions.
1. Simon Says – https://www.baamboozle.com/game/147648
Run around the house
Another fun game they can play is called Run Around the House. Tell the students to run around in their homes and find certain items. It’s almost like a scavenger hunt. So, let’s ask eight questions to make it an easier quiz. Say for example, “Okay everyone, find something you can bake with!” The students then have to run into the kitchen and find something. When they return, allocate points to the first one or on a scale depending on how many students you have with one point for the last one, zero if they did not find an article.
Next, you say, “Find some breakfast food!” They can find some cereal, eggs, or milk. You can ask for things by color, etc. This is a great way to get your students active and engaged in class.
2. Run Around the House – https://www.baamboozle.com/game/118394
Stop the Bus, a.k.a. Scattergories
It is basically the game of Scattergories. I did another video on Scattergories that you can check out to see. How it works is that the students get a piece of paper in front of them. They can work alone or in teams. Show them a letter and some things that they have to write down starting with that letter and see who has words with the most letters. For example, let’s take an “i” and write the names of a girl, a boy, and a pet. So, I wrote “Isabella” for a girl’s name, “Ian” for a boy’s name and as a pet I had “iguana,” which is a great name, scoring lots of points for my team. Preferably, students must work in pairs or small teams. If you have a few students, then maybe they can do it on their own individually, but it is best if you let them work together, but take turns answering.
- A.k.a. or aka is an abbreviation for ‘also known as‘. It especially used when referring to a nickname or stage name.
3. Stop the Bus – https://www.baamboozle.com/game/147623
Since online learners are behind their computers often for long periods, you need to get them to move around. This is a great way for them to learn new vocabulary and to have fun with your online classes. So, let’s play this. Let’s ask eight questions. The students must get up and spin around ten times and then must do stuff while they are dizzy. For example, “Walk like a crab!” “Everybody dance!”
It’s a great way to get the students’ energy levels up at the start of class when the students look sleepy. You can also do it at the end of class to end in a fun way. Keep away from risky moves in front of the computer like a handstand, rather do a chicken dance. This is a really fun game and I think you can use it with young learners and even use it with older students to get them active.
Give them activities they have to do behind their desks: “Do five push-ups! Do ten jumping jacks! Dance like a robot!” All these activities get the students moving and that increase of blood flow releases endorphins, which makes them feel good. Take that energy and refocus it on the following class activities and learning you have planned.
4. Let’s Move! – https://www.baamboozle.com/game/113178
Break the class into teams. Each team picks a member to close their eyes. While their eyes are closed, show the two teams a different picture. Then, when they open their eyes, each team gets a chance to say one word that is related to that secret word. The previously blindfolded member has a chance to guess the word. They continue until one team gets it right, they receive a point and pick a new member to be blindfolded.
You can continue until each team member had a chance.
5. Password – https://www.baamboozle.com/game/147612
Odd one out
Show students a list of words with four words in each category. They have to say which word does not match the others and give a valid reason. It does not matter what reason they give, as long as it is valid.
Let them discuss it in their groups. Afterward, let each group give feedback on what they chose and why. It helps them practice explaining themselves.
Here are some examples:
- blue – pink park black – __________________
- apples – bananas oranges chairs – __________________
- postman – doctor hospital secretary – ________________
- hungry – tired happy friend – _____________________
- Friday – Sunday March Wednesday – _______________
- seven – first eight twenty – __________________
- German – Russia England Scotland – _______________
- February – November Monday July – __________________
- tree – fridge table bed – ________________
- salad – carrot tomato cucumber – _______________
- second – third nine twelfth – ________________
- orange – cherry potato kiwi – ________________
- good – nice bad friendly – __________________
- sister – niece father aunt – __________________
- grandfather – aunt nephew brother – ____________
- windy – sunny clock freezing – ________________
- football – tennis music judo – _____________
- red – jump read write – ________________
- my – our she your – _______________
- skirt – shirt shoe smart – _________________
- car – dog camel horse – __________________
- arm – knee finger know – ___________________
- taxi – bus underground stop – ______________
- ice-cream – cake chips biscuits – __________________
- bed – kitchen bathroom hall – _______________
- cartoon – comedy musical office – ______________
- long – short old door – ______________________
- telephone – computer radio lamp – _______________
- week – fever headache flu – ____________________
- teddy bear – ball doll backpack – ____________
6. Odd One Out – https://www.baamboozle.com/game/8943
Box of lies
One student looks at an image. Then they have a choice; they have to describe the image to the class, or they can describe something completely different. Don’t let them only change it only a little bit, it has to be completely different from the image shown to them.
After they have given their description of the image or fake image, the class gets to decide if the student is lying or telling the truth. If they guess correctly, they get a point. If the student deceives them, the student gets a point.
Remember to award points to individual learners instead of the class as a whole.
7. Box of Lies – https://www.baamboozle.com/game/147712
Show a student a picture of a type of emotion. They then have to act it out to the other students, who have to guess what emotion is that they are miming. The students send you private messages through the platform (if it is Zoom or another online platform). Once they get it right, you can tell each specific learner that they get a point. Do this until all the students have either guessed correctly or have exhausted their ideas.
8. Emotions – https://www.baamboozle.com/game/38385
A student looks away and the rest of the class looks at a picture. They then have to explain it without using some of the taboo words that have been added next to it.
It could be something like this: Banana -Fruit Yellow Monkey Winter – Season Cold Snow
9. Taboo – https://www.baamboozle.com/game/147784
Students have to try and copy a drawing. The student who makes the best copy gets a point. It’s important to allow the students some breaks in between heavy learning sessions to recover and refocus. Fun brain breaks like these can really help them enjoy their online classes more.
All these games are found on the Baamboozle website. Here are all the links to the 10 games used in the video:
10. Art Challenge – https://www.baamboozle.com/game/115748
Playing online games with students is made much easier by a site like Baamboozle. Play some of these games in class to improve student engagement and learning.