Number one for English language teachers

Imaginative materials: teaching with party games

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

In many parts of the world the end of the year is the season for parties. And in class, the last lesson of the year often has a party atmosphere. So, to help things go with a swing, here are three classic party games adapted to be a little more classroom-friendly.


Pass the parcel
  • Buy a small prize e.g. a bar of chocolate. Write a number of very short revision questions on small slips of paper.

  • Wrap the prize in paper and use sticky tape to attach one of the questions to the outside.

  • Now wrap this parcel inside another layer (using a different kind of paper) and again attach a question.

  • Repeat this again and again until you have a very large parcel with 15-20 smaller packages, all nested inside each other.

In class

Play some boisterous music. Students pass the parcel round the class, holding it for a maximum of 2 seconds. When you suddenly stop the music, whoever is holding the parcel must answer the question on it. If they are correct, they tear off one layer of wrapping. If not, they pass it on. The music and passing then resumes... and goes on until someone opens the final layer and wins.


The fishing game

  • Write some sentences on long, narrow slips of paper, each with a missing vocabulary item e.g. "I've lost my... again."

  • Prepare vocabulary items in the same way e.g. glasses. Curve all the slips round so that they each make an O shape, sticking one end to the other with sticky tape.

  • Make a fishing rod using a stick, a piece of string tied to the end and a bent paper clip hook attached to the end. Place all the sentences and vocabulary items mixed up on the floor.

In class

Students take it in turns to fish (i.e. trying to hook one of the loops of paper). In their turn they can catch one item. Sentences can be kept, but vocabulary must be read aloud and then thrown back unless the student can persuade everybody that it fits the gap in one of their sentences. The winner is the student who has most good complete sentences at the end.


Pin the tail on the donkey (Well... no donkey, but...)

  • Write 20 infinitives in large letters on small pieces of paper. Write up 20 corresponding past forms randomly all over the board. (NB You can vary the grammatical area to suit your class.)

  • Tell students to study the board and try to remember where items are. Blindfold a student (e.g. using a scarf), spin them round (to disorient them) and then hand them one infinitive (backed with sticky tape).

  • Tell them their word. They must now (without looking) walk towards the board and try to stick their word as close as possible to the correct past form. If it's close, leave it on the board. If it's not, remove it.

  • Now let other members of class try using different words. At the end, the winner is the person who got closest.

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