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Classroom Games and Activities That Work Every Time

Clients and students are often enough stressed from their everyday responsibilities and are sometimes desperately in need of light diversion.  I always carry a deck of cards and some dice when travelling to classes – if the mood is bad, there is the alternative to the usual drudgery.  Play can’t be overstated – it’s a tactile, interactive and fun way of learning!

Here I provide some of my best game recommendations with links to purchase:

Card Games

Rory’s Story Cubes:  Roll the dice and tell a story.  Perfect for almost any level.  An added advantage here is that there is no given time restraint to complete an exercise, so it’s possible to jump in or out of this game depending on how participants are responding to it.
Brain Box – World History Edition:  A brain-teaser for levels B1/B2.  Players have ten seconds to study a card and are then given a question on the historical information relating to it by another player, which they have to answer to win the card.  The player with the most cards after a fixed time is the winner.
Pass the Bomb:  A variation of the classic Taboo game which forces players to come up with as many words as possible under pressure.  Can work with almost any level.
Monopoly Deal:  This fantastic card game version of the classic board game is a winner in classrooms every time.  Best for participants B2 and up.  A round takes 15 minutes, but there is no way you will get away with playing just one round – they will roll up their sleeves and want to go again, and again.  One downside is that it can become rather competitive – I played this with a team of lawyers once and there were some rather interesting arguments about the legalities of certain aggressive moves.
Black Stories:  The English translation of the well-known German card game.  Indeed, some participants will be delighted to see an English version, some might groan.  Fifty mini crime stories which need to be solved.
Trivial Pursuit Steal:  Quick card game version of the classic board game, similar to the Monopoly Deal game in principle.  For higher level and well-educated students only, as the questions are quite challenging.  15 to 20 minute gameplay without all the fuss of dice or timers.
Thingy:  Another variation of Taboo for lower level students.  Can be quite fun as a vocabulary building exercise.


Board Games

I normally don’t like to carry around big, bulky board games, but I do make exceptions for certain occasions.  The following are part of my “party arsenal.”  I find board games particularly useful around the Christmas period, when there seems to be more than the usual amount of end-of-year pressure in the offices I visit.


Trivial Pursuit Party:  A speedier, more grown-up version of the classic board game.  Level B2 up, requires three to six players to work, 20 to 30 minutes per game.  One novelty feature of the party version is the option to share a question with another player, and successful cooperation gains wedges for both!
Taboo:  The classic game, for more advanced students, C1 up.  Requires four players or more to work.
Don’t Say It:  A Taboo game for younger students.  Great for vocabulary building.
Absolutely English:  An untested but interesting-looking board game for learning English (with rules and instructions in German).  Grammar tips included in gameplay.
Travel Scrabble:  I never go on holiday without it.  I’ve only used Scrabble with a couple of select higher-level groups in the past.  It requires a full 90 minute lesson and lots of coffee, but a fairly relaxed pace of game for more of a contemplative mood.


Do you have any further suggestions to this list?  Add them in the comments below.

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