ESL Icebreaker: Human Spelling

    ESL Icebreaker: Human Spelling

    Human Spelling is a fun icebreaker activity that is a great class introduction activity for young learners, teens and even adults. In this activity, students are put into teams and given a clue. First they must work out what word the clue is and then spell the word using only their bodies. This activity is great for new groups or groups who have been together before.

    Activity time: 2 minutes per word (approx)

    Materials required: Clues and some space

    Level: All levels young learners 10+


    1. Divide the your class into small groups.
    2. The teacher then gives each group a crossword style clue to a target word. For example for young learners a clue for ‘elephant’ would be ‘Animal with a trunk’. With higher level learners a more complicated clue could be used. For example, ‘A tusked mammal’.
    3. After the groups have figured out the clue they must spell out the word using their bodies to create the letters. This can be done standing or lying down.
    4. Every member of the team must be used to create the word.
    5. The first team to correctly spell the word using their bodies is the winner and gets a point.
    6. See below for a list of clues from different categories.
    7. Enjoy and have fun.

    Note: The teacher needs to know the numbers of people to decide on the words. The number of letters in a word doesn’t have to match the number of people in a group.

    Possible clues and words

    Clue WordDifficulty
    Another word for exam.TestEasy
    I _____ swimming.LoveEasy
    A big fruit you eat during the summer? WatermelonEasy
    The month at the end of the summer.AugustEasy
    Not at all difficulty.EasyEasy
    I go __ school.ToEasy
    Who teaches the class?TeacherEasy
    Pencil and ________.RubberEasy
    A fruit and a colour.Orange Easy
    Large African animal. Elephant Easy
    An extremely tall person.GiantModerate
    Enjoyment or amusing.FunDifficult
    Not in need of a diet.SlimModerate
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