Journeys Through Teaching

Journeys Through Teaching

Great Games Part Three: No resources needed

For the final part of this mini-series I’m going to look at a handful of games that hit a number of great criteria:

  • They help students to learn or practice something important
  • They are fun and engaging
  • They require nothing (or at least, very little!)

These games are great to have ready for those moments when a quick review is needed, or you want to take a quick break from a lesson without losing your class’ momentum.  There are so many others out there such as 20 questions, Pictionary, hangman, etc. but I’ve tried to include a few lesser known games that I actually play much more frequently than these.


This classic English game is great for practicing spelling and the random chance involves makes it great for whole class activities as well as small groups. Instructions:

  • Sit your students in a circle if possible as this makes keeping the order of the game easiest
  • Choose a word to spell that is right for your class/group, in this example I’ll use ‘hat’
  • The first child says ‘h’, the second says ‘a’, the third ‘t’
  • If a child says the wrong letter they are out
  • After the word is finished the next student shouts ‘sparkle’ and the person after them is out of the game!
  • You continue with a new word until eventually everyone is out and you have a winner.

Slap Count

This simple math game is great for practicing multiplication skills (count by 2’s, 5’s, etc.) but can be adapted for counting money amounts, fractions, decimals and more.

  • Sit students cross-legged in a circle with their hands on their knees, palms up.
  • Their hand should then rest on top of the hand of the person to their right, and under the hand of the person to their left.
  • After choosing a counting pattern, let’s say ‘plus 2’ one child begins with 0
  • As they say the number they (gently) slap the hand of the person to their left
  • The next child says the next number in the pattern e.g. ‘2’, then ‘4’, etc. and slaps the hand of the next child and so on

I set a target number to reach, and (once we’ve practiced a few times) a time to reach it in to make it even more exciting!

Math Ladder

This one does need paper and a pen (sorry!) but is great for practicing maths facts and easily adapted for vocabulary:

  • On a few pieces of paper write out some maths problems for your class (e.g. 3+7 or 4×5 etc.) and arrange them in a line to make a ladder.
  • Split your class into 2 teams and line them up at either end of the ladder
  • On ‘GO’ the first person from each team starts to head down the ladder answering each question as they go
  • When the members from both sides eventually meet in the middle the students battle using ‘rock, paper, scissors’
  • The winner continues down the ladder, the loser heads to the back of their teams line and a new team-mate begins at the start of the ladder
  • The team scores a point if they make it all the way to the end of the ladder

Mixed Up Stories

Another one requiring paper and pencils! Each student takes a piece of paper and writes 1 sentence to begin a story (its fun to set a theme) at the top of the page.  They fold the page so the sentence cannot be seen, and pass the paper on.  The next person adds their sentence without reading the previous one.  This continues until the teacher decides to stop really.  Then you open up the pages and read the stories – be prepared for a lot of laughter!

A to Z

This game is great for building vocabulary and general knowledge.  You simply set a topic and then go round the class taking turns to name something in the category that begins with that letter. For example if your category is animals you may have ‘alligator’ followed by ‘bear’ followed by ‘catfish’ and so on.

That’s it for this mini-series; I hope it has given you some ideas for your classes! If you haven’t already, then don’t forget to check out the earlier posts in this series by beginning at the introduction. Thanks as always for stopping by,


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Emma Wheatley
Emma Wheatley


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