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ESL Countdown

ESL Countdown esl Kids games interactive whiteboard TEFL
ESL Countdown is a very popular show in the UK and Ireland. It is a simple game that is great as a warmer or cooler for the ESL classroom. It’s useful with nearly every level and a great way to get your students writing and practicing spelling. Everyone from young learners to adults can enjoy this simple and fun ESL activity.Activity Time: 5 mins +

Materials required: whiteboard and optionally a projector to use the digital version below.
Skills practiced: Writing, brainstorming, vocabulary and fluency.
Level: All levels Young learners – adults
Note: The clock is set for 30 seconds. Allow extra time for younger or lower level students.

1. Ask students to take out a pen and notebook. Put students into pairs or on their own depending on age and level.

2. Explain to the students that they must pick vowels or consonants and then they have 30 seconds to write any words they can make with the letters on the board. The team who creates the longest correct words gets one point for each correct word.

3. You can use the digital version below by clicking on the different options, click on more rules for instructions etc.


Not able to see the game? Try a different browser.

 Not able to see the game? Make sure you allow “flash” from this site OR try a different browser.  

Four Pictures One Word

This week’s game is a simple yet great way to practice English in class while having fun.  This game is suitable for a number of age groups and English levels.

In ESL Four Pictures One Word, students view four related pictures and they must guess the word that connects them all.

Activity Time:   10 – 15 minutes +
Materials required: Powerpoint presentation below. 
Skills practiced: Speaking, listening, writing.
Level: Pre- intermediate +


1. Split the class into teams.

2. Explain the game to the students. Tell them that they are going to see four pictures. The four pictures are connected by one common word. In their groups, they must decide what the word is. To ensure that they understand, try this example.

ESL Four pictures one word Example eslkidsgames.com

3. Now begin the game. For each correct answer, each team gets one point. If both teams guess the correct answer, they both get the point. To avoid any problems, ask the teams to write down their answer before they say it.

Download (PPTX, 1.41MB)

Want more games? Try:

ESL Family Fortunes 

ESL Quiz

5 Whiteboard Games

Grass Skirts

Grass skirts is a great activity to get the class up and out of their seats while still learning and revising their vocabulary. This activity is easy to set up and a great way to make revision fun. 

This game can be used with all levels. I have used this  game with FCE exam classes to revise phrasal verbs and young learners to practice vocabulary. 


Activity Time:  5 – 10 mins +
Materials required: One sheet with definitions of revision words printed on sheet. 
Skills practiced:Vocabulary revision
Level: All levels (Young learners, teens and adults)

1. Select a number of words you wish to revise. Get definitions for the words or write sentences with the target word missing and paste them into a word document. 

2. Print out one sheet per two students. Cut the definitions into strips but don’t cut all the way.  (See picture 2)

3. Put the students into pairs/groups. 

4. Explain to the students that only one student from each team can run up and take a definition. 

5. They then have to run back to their group and read the definition and figure out what the word is. When they think they know, they write it on the back of the definition and then show it to the teacher. If it is correct, they can go and get the next definition. If it is incorrect, they have to try again. (For weaker classes, write a word bank of possible answers.)

The first team to finish all the definitions are the winners. 

If you have any ideas or variations, please post a comment and share your thoughts.

Quick Fire Vocabulary

This activity is a simple way to practice vocabulary and speaking in the ESL classroom. It’s a very easy and quick game that doesn’t require much preparation before class. This game can be adapted to most levels and age groups. 


Activity Time:  10 – 15 mins +
Materials required: A bag/box, blank pieces of paper. 
Level: All levels 

1. Give the students small pieces of paper. Tell the students to write down vocabulary that you want them to revise or you can get them to write down nouns etc  

2. Students write down the words and put them in a container. Put the class into teams. 

3. Set a timer for 2 or 3 minutes or however long you wish. The teams take turns. Students take words from the container and explain them to their team. When the team says the correct word, the next student takes their turn and moves onto the next word. The objective of the game is to explain as many words as possible in the time allowed. Whichever team guesses the most correct words is the winner. 

5 Whiteboard Games

Whiteboard Games

This post looks at games that can be done with just a whiteboard and marker and can be a great way to revise and practice English.

Expanding Text

Activity Time:  10 minutes +
Materials required: Whiteboard and marker
Number of students: 2 +
Skills practiced: Writing.
Level: All levels

1. Write a verb on the board e.g “Go”
2. Ask students to go up to the board and add 1 – 3 words to expand on the verb.
e.g Go to school
3. Another student comes up and tries to add more. So a text is formed by the class.

Go to school
Go to school said the teacher.”  

Students can only add to the beginning or the end of the sentence.


Pictionary is easily an ESL/TEFL classic used in, I’m sure, nearly every classroom.

Activity Time:  5 minutes +
Materials required: Whiteboard and marker, a timer
Number of students: 2 +
Skills practiced: Speaking and Vocabulary.
Level: All levels

1. Students are put into teams.
2. Teacher shows a word to the first student from one of the teams.
3. Students have to draw on the board in order to make their team guess the word they are trying to draw.
4. If the team guesses correctly, they get a point. You can use a to allow a certain amount of time for the team to guess and make the game a bit more interesting. Rinse and repeat, alternating turns and teams.

Some ideas for picking words are; vocabulary seen in previous lessons, actions, films, people i.e famous people, subjects and just about anything you can think of.

This game can also be used with “Bomb” scoring system.


Activity Time:  5 minutes +
Materials required: Whiteboard and marker
Number of students: 2 +
Skills practiced: Speaking and Vocabulary revision.
Level: All levels

1. The teacher chooses a word from the dictionary and does not tell the students. This word can be one reviewed in previous lessons.
2. Students guess letters in the word.
3. If the student guesses correctly, the teacher writes the letter on the board. If they students guesses incorrectly, the teacher draws a part of the hanging man.

Noughts and Crosses 

Activity Time:  5 minutes +
Materials required: Whiteboard and marker
Number of students: 2 +
Skills practiced: Speaking and Vocabulary revision.
Level: All levels

1. Draw a grid with nine boxes on the board.
2. Students in teams are assigned to be X’s or O’s.
3. Teacher asks questions of the target language to be revised, spelling or to use words in a sentence etc. (any revision you wish can be used) If they answer correctly, one of the students draw an X or O. Whatever team connects 3 in any direction wins.

Whiteboard scrabble 

Activity Time:  5 minutes +
Materials required: Whiteboard and marker
Number of students: 2 +
Skills practiced: Speaking and Vocabulary revision.
Level: All levels

1. A student writes a word in the middle of the board.
2. The next student writes another word starting or ending with one of the letters on the board. One point is given for each letter in the word. If a word is longer than 6 letters, they get double points.
3. The winner is the first person to get to a set number such as 50 depending on time. You can also set a category to practice a specific group, such as fruit, countries etc.

Want more games you can play on your whiteboard?
Discover more of our online whiteboard activities.

Vocabulary Fortunes – This online game is great for teens and adults to practice vocabulary on 12 key topics covered regularly by students,

Describe the photo – A great way to practice speaking about photos for B1 (PET).

ESL Play Your Cards Right – A fun higher or lower game.

ESL Countdown – A great game to practice vocabulary and spelling.

ESL Writing Prompt Generator – A fun way to practice writing with young learners and even teens.

Find more games and activities on our YouTube Channel