15 fun ways to score points

Giving students points in class has so many benefits in terms of motivation and classroom control that some teachers of kids and even adults use games and other activities with points in almost every class. To give a bit more variety to keep points motivating and to take away some of the potential disadvantages of […]

Giving students points in class has so many benefits in terms of motivation and classroom control that some teachers of kids and even adults use games and other activities with points in almost every class. To give a bit more variety to keep points motivating and to take away some of the potential disadvantages of the same students winning all the time etc there are plenty of variations you can add to your classes. Here are 15 examples:

1. Darts points
After one student or team gets a question right they throw something such as a sticky ball (sucker ball) at a target marked with different numbers of points and score the number of points that they hit. Apart from a sticky ball on a target drawn on the board, students can also throw a soft ball, paper airplanes or screwed up pieces of paper. They can also try to throw any of these things into boxes or cups marked with different numbers of points. Throwing for extra points like this can help boost the scores of the sporty students who aren’t usually so good at English language games.

2. One dart try
A variation on Darts Points is that there is just one small target that they can have an attempt to hit every time they score a point. The first person or team to hit it wins the whole round or whole game.

3. Dice
A similar one to Darts Points that relies just on luck rather than physical skills is throwing a dice to see how many points you get each time. If you don’t have dice available, students can flip a coin until they get a tail and get a point for every head they got before. Adding an element of luck can give even the students who never win anything a chance to win occasionally.

4. Hangman
The scoring system of hangman where students have to complete something before a picture is complete can be used with all kinds of games. As a man being hung can be quite distasteful to anyone who hasn’t grown up with this game, you can draw anything else that clearly shows that time is up, such as a stopwatch.

5. Sharks
A variation on Hangman is making the shaded space on the board that represents each student or team smaller and smaller each time they take a turn or make a mistake, until the whole area has been erased. You can make the context clear by drawing the space as an island or a raft and showing the sharks circling it. A similar one is to have a picture of someone supported by balloons and pop them one by one or make them smaller each time an unsuccessful attempt is made.

6. The cabbage game
Students are given an object, e.g. an empty box or a piece of plastic fruit, each time they score a point but lose the point if they drop the object. This means that students who get lots of points will find it harder and harder not to drop things and so the scores should be evened up. You can bias it further in favour of students who don’t usually do so well by giving bigger objects to the students who have more points.

7. Points fetch
Students who score points have to go and fetch them from where the teacher has thrown them or has hidden them before the class, e.g. “Well done. One point. Take the flashcard that is under one of the chairs”. This can keep students who are getting all the points distracted as they run after a point in the corner of the room, while everyone else can concentrate fully on the next question.

8. One letter to guess
Every time they score a point they are given a letter of a word or sentence that they have to guess to win the whole game. Different teams can get the next letter for the common word or sentence or each team can have one each to guess. The letters can be given in order (much easier) or mixed up. This is good for tying a game about new language (for which they score the points) in with revision of old language (of which the word or sentence they have to guess is an example).

9. One letter to add
Each time they score a point students are given one random letter and at the end of the game they have to make as many words and sentences as they can from all the letters they have collected.

10. Double or quits
Every time they score a point they can take a gamble and try again for double the points. Strong teams and students tend to get overconfident with this game and teams with just a few points who are more cautious often get a chance to win.

11. Points betting
Students can bet part of their total points on how sure they are that they have the right answer, and then get double the points or lose them depending on whether they are correct or not. You can also have a points auction in a similar way, but with only the team who bid highest getting or losing points each time.

12. One knee, two knees, one hand, head, out
With games where people catch and throw a ball as they ask and answer questions etc, students who drop the ball or make a mistake with the language have to continue on one knee, then on both knees, with one hand behind their back, then both hands behind their back and only heading the ball until they make another mistake and are out or the round ends. This game also helps even things up as people tend to pick on the strong students and throw gently to people who struggle more with the language or with ball sports.

13. Move to the bottom
If students are sitting in a horseshoe shape the students who score points can move to the right hand chair (the top) or the students who make mistakes can move to the left hand chair (the bottom), with all the other students moving along to make room. Again, the student at the top tends to get picked on with difficult questions until they make a mistake and so it gives everyone a chance to be at the top at the end of the game. To make the game fair, you will to give a strict time limit to the game and stick with it.

14. One point one detail
Each time students get a point they can add one detail to their drawing on the board. The winning team is the one with the best picture at the end of the game, which will usually but not always be the one who has scored the most points during the game.

15. One point one ingredient
Each time students score a point they can ask for one possible element of the thing they are planning, such as something to take to help them survive in the desert or a cooking ingredient. Teams cannot copy each other. When the game finishes students explain what they are going to do with those things and the best plan wins.

Written by Alex Case for TEFL.net May 2008
Alex Case is the author of TEFLtastic.

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