Team Building Games – Part 1

Note: this is a short collection of games to give an example of the kind of thing that you could use during free practice sessions and warmers. T should add their own games and ask SS to suggest their favourites too.

Random Way of Choosing Teams:


T asks SS to line up in order of their… height, age, shoe size, first initial, second initial of their street/pet/sister’s name/favourite TV programme, etc. Then T gives each person a number, from left to right, or right to left, e.g. 1, 2, 3, 4, 1, 2, 3, 4 – if 4 teams are required. Then all the 1’s work together, as do all the 2’s, 3’s, and 4’s.

Creative Vocabulary:


SS work in teams to create the best model of a vocabulary word out of:

  • modelling clay
  • balloons
  • maize snacks / breakfast cereal
  • recyclable material
  • old newspapers / magazines
  • other handy material

Wrong Stress, Wrong Sounds


SS read a sentence aloud and stress all the wrong syllables, then read it correctly. Or, SS read a sentence aloud and have the right stressed syllables, but the wrong vowel sounds on the stresses. How easy is it to understand? Use this activity to demonstrate the vital importance of SS having both the correct stressed syllable in a word and the correct vowel sound on that syllable.



SS create and present a performance piece based on the topic and/or vocabulary that they have been studying. This could be in any of the following forms – or something else:

  • Role play
  • Dialogue
  • Make a musical
  • Puppet work
  • Mime
  • Dance

…and so on.

Multiple Choice Quiz:


A quiz where there are four possible answers – a, b, c, and d. SS have to stand in the middle of the room, then run to a corner – marked a, b, c, or d – to show their answer. If they are wrong, they leave the game and the remaining SS continue without them, until there is one winner.

Simon Says:


A party game that works well with English students as a way of practising listening to and understanding commands. Say a number of simple commands, such as, “Put your hands on your head”, “Stand on one leg” or “Start humming”, and the students have to do what you say – but only if you have prefaced the command with “Simon says…” If you do not say “Simon says…” and the student follows the command, that student is out, and the game resumes until there is a winner. This is a fun game that SS can lead too.

Party Invitations:


The whole class sits in a circle. Tell them that it is your birthday next week and that you’re planning a birthday party. They are all invited… but on one condition. They must bring you a present, and it must be something that you really want. Each student in turn tells you what he or she will bring to give you on your birthday. You will tell them either that they can come, or that they are not invited. This depends on what they offer to bring you. The item they are going to bring must begin with the same letter as your first name. If it does, they can come; if it does
not, they cannot. For example, if your name is Lucy and they offer to bring “a lemon” as a present, they will be welcome. If they offer to bring “a bottle of wine”, they will be given short shrift! This game is hilarious, as some students will twig onto your ‘unspoken rule’ early on, while some will not get it at all, however obvious you make it!

Whispering Trees:


Get the students standing in a line. Stand at one end and whisper a short phrase or sentence in the ear of the student next to you. For example, you could say, “My dad once met Brad Pitt in a bus queue in Dover.” Each student repeats the phrase to their neighbour until you get to the end of the line, when the last student tells the class the sentence they heard, and you can reveal what the original sentence was. A good game for practising listening skills.

What’s Going On…?


Probably better for an intermediate or advanced class, this one. Prepare twenty questions, based on what is happening in the news (be it local, national or world news). You could include spelling questions too, and questions about different members of the class, for example, “Which country does Louisa come from?” Split the class into two teams and you are ready to play. Give five points for a correct answer and bonus points at your discretion for any extra information that the students give in their answers. If the first team does not know the answer, hand it over to a different team for a bonus point.

My Butler Went To Meadowhall:


The title refers to Meadowhall shopping centre near Sheffield. The game is really just a version of My Grandmother Went To Market. Students sit in a circle, away from desks and paper, and so on. Tell the students that you teach because you love it and do not need the money as you are actually rather well off. In fact, you have a butler who goes to Meadowhall every Friday to go shopping for you, and he buys you many different things. This week, however, you cannot decide what to buy, so you are asking the students to help you. You are going to make a list.
Start with saying, “My butler is going to Meadowhall on Friday and will buy me…” (Think of any item that you can buy in a shop.) The next person has to say, “Your butler is going to Meadowhall on Friday and will buy you…” whatever you said, plus an item of their own. The list goes around the circle until the last person has to remember the whole list of items. Students usually give prompts if their fellow students are struggling. A good vocabulary game, as well as being fun and a test of the memory. Plus they get a laugh thinking about your (imaginary – unless you really have one…?) butler.

What’s In The Bag…?


Have a ‘lucky dip’ style bag, or box, which you can use from time to time for this quick activity that draws the class together in mutual curiosity. Put something different in the bag (or box) each time, for example, a paper clip, or an orange. Students take it in turns to feel inside the bag (or box) – without looking – and then describe what the object feels like and what they think it is. This activity can easily be handed over to the students for them to facilitate among themselves, even using items that they have brought in from home.

Team Building Games – Part 2 >

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