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15 uses for guessing games in any pre-school English class

As much as singing, moving around, chanting, colouring in etc are all vital parts of a pre-school English lesson that can take some getting used to if you haven’t taught very young learners before, sometimes the most intensive language practice can come from variations on games you play with your adult classes. The descriptions below […]

As much as singing, moving around, chanting, colouring in etc are all vital parts of a pre-school English lesson that can take some getting used to if you haven’t taught very young learners before, sometimes the most intensive language practice can come from variations on games you play with your adult classes. The descriptions below are examples of adapting the old TEFL classic “20 Questions”, where students guess what you are describing after little clues as to what it is. As most kindergarten English classes are low level, all the versions below can work with the teacher (or student taking the teacher role) giving clues (maybe with the students saying “One more hint, please” or “Can we have another clue, please?”) as well as with the students asking yes/ no questions as in the usual adult class version.

1. Fruit and vegetables guessing
The teacher can give clues and/ or the students can ask question using the language of colours (“It is red or green”), animals (“Monkeys eat/ like this”), shapes (“It’s a circle”), or other adjectives of shape and size (long, round, medium-sized, big, small etc)

2. Animal guessing
Clues can consist of colours (“It is yellow and black”), numbers (“There are three in this room/ on the flashcard”- if they know the cards already or can see them all), sizes and shapes (“It is round/ big/ very small”), numbers plus body parts (“It has eight legs”), sizes and shapes plus body parts (“It has a long neck”), or personality and other adjectives (“It is quiet/ loud/ scary”)

3. Actions guessing
Hints could be with the vocabulary of animals (“Dolphins do this”), times (“I do it at 7 o’clock”), places (“People do it in the park”), or classroom objects (“You can do this with a pen).

4. Body parts guessing
You can give clues including numbers (“I have two of these”), sizes and shapes (“An elephant has a long one of these”), clothes (“You put your scarf around this”), or classroom vocabulary (“A chair has one of these”).

5. Numbers guessing
Clues include sentences using animals (“A spider has this many legs”), classroom language (“There are this many boys in the class”), actions (“I clean my teeth this many times a day”) or transport (“A train sometimes has this many engines”).

6. Colours guessing
You can combine this with the vocabulary of animals (“A cat is sometimes this colour”), transport (“In London, buses are this colour”), or countries (“The French flag has this colour”)

7. Times guessing
You can combine this with the language of actions (“I get up at this time”, “We all eat lunch at this time”), or family and actions (“My father goes to sleep at this time”)

8. Family guessing
You can give hints with the language of clothes (“This person in my family/ in the book has a pink hat”), actions (“This person plays football”), times and actions (“This person goes to bed at 7 o’clock”), food and drink (“This person likes candy”), or animals (“This person likes spiders”/ “This person has a horse”).

9. Clothes guessing
You can combine this language point with body parts (“You wear this on your legs”), numbers (“I have 20”), colours (“I have a black one and a white one”), or family (“My sister wears this”).

10. Transport guessing
Transport can be put together with family members (“My brother has a toy one”), numbers (“Fifty people can go on this”, “It has two wheels”) or adjectives (“It is fast/ big/ noisy”).

11. Toys guessing
The vocabulary of toys goes well together with actions (“You can throw it”), colours (with flashcards- “This one is pink”), shapes (“It’s a circle”, “It’s made from seven rectangles and two circles”), or other adjectives (“It’s soft/ long/ small”).

12. Classroom objects guessing
This important topic are can be put together with prepositions (“It is next to the window”), shapes (“It is a rectangle”), colours (“The one in this room is white”, “Sometimes it is green”), or other adjectives (“It is big”).

13. Weather guessing
This is a difficult one to make into a guessing game, but you could try the shapes on the flashcard (“This picture is a circle with straight lines coming from it”), likes and dislikes (“I like/ my brother likes/ ducks like this weather”), actions (“You can ski in this weather”), or clothes (“I usually wear a hat in this weather”)

14. Household objects guessing
This is a vocabulary area that is often neglected because it seems far away from the classroom but is important for them to “take English home with them”. You can combine this topic with shapes (“It is long”), other adjectives (“It is big and soft”), actions (“You can sit on it”) and numbers (“I have two in my bedroom”).

15. Things around us/ things in the street guessing
This is another topic that tends to be left till later in the syllabus than would be best. You can combine it with size and shapes (“It is a long pole with a circle on it”) or actions (“You can sit down or play there”).

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

2 Comments

  • Alex Case says:

    You are right of course Kareema, the games need to be suitable both for the language level and the age and maturity of the students. Teenagers are often the most resistant to games (even more than adults!) but something that doesn’t involve any running around like the game described here should be suitable for anyone

  • Kareema says:

    Games must be suitable the level of students I teach them , mustn’t they ?
    That is I can’t give letters game for secondary level , instead I may give it to primary level

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TEFL.net : ESL Lesson Plans : Classroom Ideas : Young Learners : 15 uses for guessing games in any pre-school English class