Children all love to get up and move around. It gives them a chance to use up spare energy, to refresh themselves if they have got tired or bored and to get actively involved in their learning.

Photo of a classroom with some students sitting at their desks and others standing.

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Even if the class is rather full of furniture and children, it is usually possible to move desks slightly closer together. Either get into the class before the children (especially for the younger ones) or ask your students to help you – move the desks together so there is enough room for a line of children to stand at either side of the class room.

A – Z

A firm favourite with all my students, especially with large classes not used to getting up - the structure of the game ensures that students keep each other organised:

  • Choose a lexical set like sports.
  • The student at the front of each line must run to the board and write a sport beginning with A, hand the chalk to the student behind her and then go to the back of the line.
  • The next student goes to the board and writes a sport beginning with B, hands the chalk to the next student and goes to the back of the line and this continues until students reach Z.
  • Other students in a team can help the person writing if they cannot think of a sport. If nobody can think of one they go on to the next letter in the alphabet.
  • The winner is the team with most sports written on the board by the end of the game.

Tip: use large lexical sets for this game: food & drink, jobs, things you can find in the house, countries, parts of the body NOT furniture or musical instruments which are limited and will frustrate all the players!


Brainstorming can also be done in this way on the board:

  • Write up a theme on the board like A Bank Robbery.
  • Each student runs up to the board and must write one word or phrase that could be used to describe a bank robbery e.g. gun, bank manager, frightened customers, loud scream.
  • The team with the most words or expressions in 5 minutes is the winner.

Advantages and disadvantages

You don’t need all the students standing for this.

  • Divide the class down the middle. Those on the left must think of advantages and those on the right of disadvantages, for example: television, single sex schools.
  • Have 4 or 5 runners for each side and as a student thinks of an advantage or disadvantage they tell a runner, who goes to the board and writes it down.
  • The team with most ideas is the winner.

This is an energetic way to motivate students to think of ideas on a topic. Telling the students that this is a competition adds motivation – even if there is no prize, simply the satisfaction of getting more points!

Many years ago I worked in a language school in Greece which had desks like church pews that went across nearly the entire classroom and that were nailed to the floor. It was impossible for the furniture to be moved at all. Students were still able to work in groups by simply turning around and facing the student behind them, as well as working with the students on either side. We enjoyed working out different ways of changing partners and group combinations without ripping the furniture off the floors. I also used the space at the front of the class and the corridor for students to move around in playing games like running dictations or even doing class surveys.

Do not be discouraged by the physical limitations of your classroom but enlist your students in trying to find solutions to these problems. Maybe the playground could be used occasionally for some English activities.