Number one for English language teachers

Grammar activities: Noughts and crosses

Level: Starter/beginner, Elementary, Pre-intermediate, Intermediate, Upper intermediate, Advanced Type: Extra

This is a warmer designed to revise previously taught language points.

The advantages of this game are that it is set as a competition, and follows the rules of a children’s game known as ‘noughts and crosses‘ in England and ‘Tic tac toe‘ in America. Here are the steps of the activity:

  • Draw a grid on the board and numbers the spaces, as shown below:





  • Divide the class into two teams and explain that behind each number there is a grammatical question (e.g. an unfinished conditional clause, a wrong sentence they have to correct, a word they have to use correctly in a sentence or a definition of a word they have to guess, adjancency pairs (e.g. How are you? – I’m fine, thanks). There is an unlimited number of ways in which this can be adapted). Alternatively, in order to make instructions easier, a blank noughts and crosses grid can be drawn and blanks filled in – most students will instantly recognize the game and know the rules.
  • The starting team chooses noughts or crosses and then picks a number. If they answer the question correctly, they get to fill that square with either a nought or a cross. If they get the answer wrong, the point is given to their opponents.
  • The winning team are the first team to get a horizontal, vertical or diagonal line of noughts or crosses.

I often use this warmer with my classes, usually to revise quantifiers, new vocabulary and modals.

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