Teacher’s Corner December 2018: Games for the First Day Back from Break

As teachers prepare to return to their classrooms in the beginning of 2019, plenty is going through their heads. Whether it be work that was left behind before the break, new seating arrangements, or back to IEP and 504 meetings, everyone will have something on their mind.


One particularly unique challenge for language teachers is how not only to remotivate their students, but also to reignite their knowledge. If students have forgotten vocabulary, how can they communicate? A great way to get students back directly into the target language in the first few minutes is using games to help recall vocabulary. Since schools have different access to technology, we will be looking at 3 different strategies, ranging from absolutely no tech to requiring individual computers or phones. Although these are general overviews, consider what you have access to and how you can tailor the experience to your students.

No Tech: Kaboom!

This is one that will require some teacher prep, but no classroom prep or student materials. Create decks with as many cards as you wish (I recommend about 20). Create enough decks for 4-5 students. 18 of the cards will be in the target language. These can either be questions that students have to answer, pictures of vocabulary, or whatever subject or skillset you want to practice. Students answer the questions until they get the Kaboom card, in which case the deck needs to be reshuffled and start over. The first team that can answer all cards without getting Kaboom wins. Alternatively, set a timer, and whichever group has gone through the most cards without a Kaboom at the end wins. This game is great as it constantly practices the same material over and over, while also adding some excitement for the students as they hope to not get the Kaboom card.

Low-Tech: Pictionary

A classic party game, Pictionary also has plenty of use in the classroom. The teacher can say a word, action, or sentence, and students draw it, or they can play in small groups. Have one student draw while the other students in their group guess; whichever student guesses correctly first wins a point. This is a good way to get students involved and focused right away, while also practicing the target language and helping them recall simple information.

High-Tech: Quizizz

Quizizz is a new website similar to Kahoot to practice multiple choice questions. You can create your own question sets, or (as I frequently do) use a premade set that another teacher has made before me. If you are using a textbook, it can be as easy as typing in the name of the book and the chapter you’re practicing. There are also plenty of other question sets based around grammar or thematic topics. The reason I prefer this game over Kahoot is that students complete questions at their own pace, adding another layer of excitement to their learning.

Hopefully this will give you a good idea of where to head on your first day back from break. As always, if you are interested in being a guest contributor, please contact rob@languagemuseum.org