We agree that whiteboard markers have their weak points, but one of the advantages is that you can use them to play some great, fun ESL games with your students
How You Can Use A Whiteboard: 8 ESL Games
This is a classic and one that may easily be adapted to any level. Students are split into two teams and they take turns drawing words, actions, or situations that they have drawn from a pile of cards. Teammates guess what is being drawn.
Another popular game that may be adapted to your needs. Play the classic game where students have to guess a word or a more sophisticated version where they have to guess entire phrases, expressions, movie, or book titles.
Tic Tac Toe
Too simple? Not really. Make it as challenging as you like. Say you want your students to practice the simple past tense. Draw a 3 by 3 grid on the whiteboard. Write a sentence in each square, with a gap where the verb should go. Write a list of 10 verbs on the side (one of them won’t be used). They must supply the right form of the verb to complete the sentence till one of the teams gets a Tic Tac Toe. Try it with any gap-filling exercise! And expand the 9-square grid to a bigger 16 or 25-square grid as suggested in this Tic Tac Toe worksheet.
Place one student in the hot seat, in front of the whiteboard, with his or her back to it. You and another student stand behind the student in the hot seat. Write a word, movie, or book that the student must describe for the other to guess.
Draw a 5 by 5 grid on the whiteboard and label each column from A to E and each row 1 to 5. Each team chooses a square, say “A5”; you ask a question you have previously prepared. Before starting the game choose three squares that won’t have any questions, and when a team chooses one of these, tell them an earthquake has just swallowed up some of their points–deduct 5 points.
The goal is for students to identify a barnyard animal from the sound it makes. Depending on your students’ level, you can either draw the pictures of animals on the board or write the words for each. Give each team a different color marker and have them line up. Make the sound yourself, i.e. crow like a rooster or have a CD ready with animal sounds. As they hear each sound, students race to the board and circle the right word or picture. You can adapt this game to all types of sounds, like:
- A phone ringing
- A car honking a horn
- Someone sneezing
You may also record expressions or phrases that they have to circle on the board, like “Thanks!” and “You’re welcome”.
This game is similar to the race mentioned above but in this case students race to the board to write a letter, a word, or a complete answer to a question. You can have each student write the complete answer or play it like a relay race where each student in the team only writes one word, then races to pass the marker to a teammate who must write the next one, and so on.
Backs to the Board
Great for practicing numbers, especially those tricky ones like 16 and 60, 13 and 30, etc…Write several numbers on the board. Give each team a different color marker. Have students stand with their backs to board. Call out a number. Students turn, try to find the number, and circle it. At the end of the game, tally up the scores by counting the different color circles.
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