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Secret Spies

ESL Secret Spies is a simple game for Kids. Its a great game to revise vocabulary and practice spelling in a fun and interactive way. Ciphers are always great fun and loved by young learners.

Activity Time: 10 mins +

Materials required: Scissors, paper, pens/pencils
Skills practiced: Vocabulary and spelling.
Level: Young learners


1. Write words on pieces of papers that you want the students to revise.
2. Cut up the words up into letters and give them to the students to put back into the correct order. Students write down the words that they decipher.
3. Get the students to make their own ciphers and swap them with the other students.
Find more great ideas here:

Create curiosity in the classroom

What Am I?

Riddles can be a great way to practice speaking with ESL students. Riddles are a fantastic way to practice vocabulary and also engage students to think outside the box. This weeks’ game is a simple “What am I?” set of riddles. These riddles are made for young learners.

These can also be used with other levels as quick warmers.

Activity Time: 5 mins +

Materials required: Whiteboard and optionally a projector to use the digital version below.
Skills practiced: Speaking, brainstorming,vocabulary and fluency.
Level: Young learners

1. Write or project the riddles in the following presentation.

2. Encourage students to guess what the answer is. Slowly reveal each answer, encouraging students to continue guessing. Students don’t need to understand every word to guess the answer. Try not to explain every word. Students can be put in pairs and write down their answers also. This can be a good way to make this a communicative task.
ESL Riddles curiosity in the classroom

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.



Enigma is a quick and simple ESL game you can put together in no time. It’s a great ESL game for teens and adults of all levels but can be easily adapted for younger learners. It’s a great activity to practice question forming and practising vocabulary from previous lessons etc. It’s also an enjoyable way of creating fun and unusual stories and could even be used as creative writing starters.

Activity Time:  10 minutes +
Materials required: White board and marker.
Number of students: 2 +
Skills practiced: Listening, speaking, question forming and Vocabulary.
Level: All levels

1.Draw a crime scene on the board such as the example in the picture. 

ESL Lateral thinking logic games Enigma Problem solving
Enigma crime scene example

2.Students ask/answer yes or no questions.

3.Students have to work out what happened.

Lateral Thinking problems

Another way to encourage teen and adult students to speak is through using lateral thinking problems. These are easy to set up and I have found that students enjoy this story creating activity.

Students can work in pairs or in a group where they ask questions and the teacher can only give yes or no answers.

So, here are a number of lateral thinking problems with their answers.

Romeo and Juliet
Romeo and Juliet are dead. They are in a locked room on the 20th floor. In the room, there is a table, a puddle and some broken glass. There is only one window in the room and the wind is blowing the curtains. Apart from the bodies of Romeo and Juliet, there is nothing else in the room. How did Romeo and Juliet die? 

Romeo and Juliet were actually goldfish. The wind blew over their bowl, and they suffocated on the floor. 

The Broken match
A man is found dead with a broken match in his hand. 

After their hot air balloon began to lose altitude, the passengers drew matches to see who would have to jump out in order to save the rest.

Looking for more puzzles ? Have a look here…

How many things…

This warmer is always a fun way to get your students thinking and practicing their vocabulary. I first came across this activity in this book, which has some great ideas for mini-brain workouts for quiet or tired students.

This activity is extremely easy to do and requires no pre-class preparation or materials.

Activity Time:  5 – 10 mins +
Materials required: pencil and paper for each pair of students
Number of students: 2 +
Skills practiced:Vocabulary revision
Level: All levels


  • In pairs or groups students have to note down as many things as they can think of that fit a certain definition.


  • For example, you might say to the class “How many things can you think of that are round?
  • Each group then gets a certain amount of time to think and write down as many things as they can. The group with the most are the winners and get a point for that round. 
Some suggestions:
How many things…
  • are bigger than an elephant? 
  • are smaller than a mouse?
  • are long and thin?
  • do people like to look at?
  • can you sit on?
  • are purple?
  • cost more than £1000?
  • are better than an iPhone?!
  • fit in your pocket?
  • are free?
You can find more brain breaks like this here and here.

                       Have a great game of activity you would like to share?
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