Online Class Activities for Kids

Fun and engaging games and activities for online, young learner ESL lessons!

Key: 'B' break-out rooms, 'R' receptive, 'P' productive, 'Z' zero-prep, 'W' warmer

'Break-out rooms' are a great feature of some video conferencing platforms, such as www.zoom.us.

3 Picture Story - P

You will need 3 photos. E.g. a photo of an interesting couple, a photo of an interesting location, and a strange piece of realia. Students must build a story from these items. First show them the couple. Elicit ideas about their relationship, their careers, who loves whom the most, how long they have been together, etc. Once you have a pretty full picture, introduce the piece of realia (for example: a tennis racket), elicit how this is involved in the story, who used it and the result that it had upon the couple. Finally, show the class the location picture and elicit a suitable conclusion to the story. Ask students to summarize the entire story individually or in groups in break-out rooms. The students will surprise you with how inventive they are. This can be done in small groups, as a whole class and with different pictures.

ABC Words - PZW

Assign each student a number and have them take turns to write a word in the chat box in order of the alphabet. Make this more challenging by assigning a category. So for example, student 1- Apple, then student 2- Banana, then student 3... and so on.

Ask a Family Member - PZ

A great way to practice almost any language point. Have students ask their family members questions related to the lesson content. They can then feed this back to you / the class either by speaking into their mic or typing into the chat box.

Bingo - RW

Use a free online bingo card generator and give out a unique card to each student containing words recently studied. Call out words in random order for students to cross off as they hear them. The first student to cross a complete line horizontally or vertically shouts out Bingo! and wins a point.

Charades - PW

Have a list of already prepared words and one student will share their camera and act out the word. The rest of the class then needs to guess what the word is.

Clever Parrot - RPZW

The teacher produces either vocabulary or a statement which can be produced accurately or inaccurately by the teacher. The students listen and if the pronunciation of the teacher is accurate, then they will repeat the vocabulary or statement. If the pronunciation is inaccurate, then they won't repeat the vocabulary or statement. Mistakes in form can also be used for more complex grammar practice. For example: 'I’m gonna play to football tomorrow'. The students must check the form before repeating or not repeating.

Countdown - ZW

Give students a set amount of time to come up with as many words, or the longest words they can from a bunch of random letters. Make sure there's a good mix of vowels and consonants in the selection. You could use videos from the popular UK TV show of the same name to add some suspense (but give the students more than 30 seconds!).

Guess What? - PZW

Good for practicing lexis sets and short form questions. "Is it a...” "Are you...." "Does it...” Depending on what the target language is students must work in pairs asking yes/no questions to decipher the correct word. Using locations as an example: Teacher draws 5 buildings on the online-whiteboard, such as Hospital, Bank, Police Station, School and Library. Teacher asks the students "Where is the Teacher?" Elicit yes/no questions from the students, aka "Are you at the hospital?" etc. until one of them wins. students can then perform the same activity in pairs using paper and pens in break-out rooms. Very adaptable game and works well in speaking practice. Zoo animals, jobs, clothes, etc.

Hangman - ZW

The teacher thinks of a word or phrase; the students try to guess what it is one letter at a time. The player draws a number of dashes equivalent to the number of letters in the word on the online-whiteboard. If a guessing player suggests a letter that occurs in the word, the teacher fills in the blanks with that letter in the right places. If the word does not contain the suggested letter, the other player draws one element of a hangman’s gallows. As the game progresses, a segment of the gallows and of a victim is added for every suggested letter not in the word. The number of incorrect guesses before the game ends is up to the players, but completing a character in a noose provides a minimum of six wrong answers until the game ends. The first player to guess the correct answer thinks of the word for the next game.

How Many Things Can You Think of That? - BPZW

In groups in break-out rooms, students try to think of and note down as many things as they can that fit a given definition and that they know in English. For example, you might tell them to think of as many items as they can that are small enough to fit into a matchbox. After two or three minutes, pool all the ideas on the board, or have a competition to see who can think of the most items. Here are some examples: "How many things can you think of that ...?" 1. ...are bigger than you are? 2. ...are round? ...make a noise? 3. ...work electricity? 4. ...are made of paper / wood / glass? 5. ...people enjoy looking at? 6. ...you can write with?

I Spy - PW

Share a document with many different images on it, or a picture of a scene with lots of content and say to the group 'I spy with my little eye, something beginning with...' and add a letter. Students then shout out everything they see beginning with that letter. The first student to respond correctly goes next.

Last Weekend - RPZW

Elicit 5 words from each student to describe their weekend. A different student tells the class or small groups what the other did. The original student verifies the story.

Memory Words - BPW

Prepare a bunch of physical items. show each item to the students - they aren’t allowed to write anything at this point. They have to remember as many words as possible. The students then write down as many words as they can remember in pairs in break-out rooms. The pair that can remember the most words wins.

Mini-board / Paper Race - RW

Using mini-boards or paper, students race to write answers to questions on any topic - good for spelling practice. There's a list of categories on our 'materials' page.

Name 2 Things - RPZW

The teacher says, “Name two …”, e.g. “Name two animals”, or “Name two things that start with b”. Students race to write down two things fitting into the criteria you stated. The first student to do so gets a point for their team. The pair with the most points wins.

Opposites Quiz - PZW

Organize the class into teams. Say an adjective, the first student to call out and write the opposite wins a point for his/her team. The team with the most points at the end wins (see the Materials Page for a word grid).

Ordering Musical Sentences / Words - RW

Cut up a song either by lines, phrases or individual words on a google doc. In pairs or small groups on a shared google doc, students listen and put the song in order. You may have to play the song several times.

Pictionary - PZW

Draw an object, action, place (etc) on the online-whiteboard and have students guess what it is. They can either shout their answers into the mic or type their answers in the chat box. You can then have students take a turn or even have small groups do this in break-out rooms, but you will need to feed them the words/sentences in this case.

Picture / Colour Dictation - RZW

Describe an image for the students to draw. You can take this further by dictating what colour to make each part of the image. Have students show their pictures and encourage others to praise their work. Be sure to lead by example and show your picture first, but don't make it too good so as not to upstage the students.

Picture Flash - PW

Prepare a picture for class. Let the students look at the picture for only a few seconds. They have to remember as much as they can and write it down. Flash the picture again and then they can continue writing ideas. Have students race to write all their ideas on a google doc. They get a point for every original word they come up with (duplicates are crossed off and nobody receives a point for that word).

Projects - P

Have students work on projects at home. These can include (for example) making posters or conducting family surveys. They can then present their results to the class or what they produce can be used during another lesson.

Quizzes - BPW

Put pairs or small groups into break-out rooms and have them answer questions which review language covered during the course. Your quiz can be made on a google doc which is shared with each group (google classroom is really good for this kind of thing), or you can share slides with the questions on them and students write their answers in the chat box.

Revision Taboo - RPW

Keep track of vocabulary learnt during the course on a google doc. As an end of the week review, a warmer or a filler for those last five minutes of class, select a student, send him or her the link o the google doc and set a time limit of thirty to sixty seconds. This student chooses a word from the list, then proceeds to describe the object, action, emotion, etc. to the class. As soon as the class guesses the word, the student proceeds to the next word (or the student who guesses the word can choose the next word). For added practice, you may randomly ask students to use reviewed words correctly in sentences at the end of each timed turn.

Riddles - PW

Use the riddles on out Materials page and either show them to the group and have them race to answer, or list out a few and have small groups in break-out rooms work together to answer them.

Scattegories - BPZW

In groups in break-out rooms, give the students a bunch of categories. Tell them they have 3 minutes to write as many answers as they can, starting with a certain letter (you will have to make sure there are answers for all your categories with the letter you give the students). Each team gets one point for every original answer they have (similar answers negate each other and no team gets a point for that answer). This will encourage students to be creative in their answers. All answers are up for debate and can be voted on by the rest of the class. Continue with a new letter. The team with the most points wins.

Show & Tell - RP

Students prepare something to tell the class about for about 1-2 minutes - you should do this first as a model of the task. Have the other students think of questions to ask the presenter when they have finished.

Spot the Difference - PW

Present 2 images with slight differences - a quick google search will yield many options. Students write the differences they see either in the group chat box (for a quicker activity), or individually to the teacher. When going through the answers with the class, use it as an opportunity to drill sentence-level pronunciation and intonation.

Spot the Difference (higher levels) - BPW

Similar to 'Spot the Difference', but instead put pairs of students into break-out rooms and give each student one of the images. They need to describe the image to each other to find the differences.

Stop the Bus - BPZW

There are several variations of this game. Here is one way to play it online: Divide the class into pairs or small groups using break-out rooms. Across the top of the online-whiteboard, write five categories e.g. hobbies, verbs, adjectives, animals, foods, etc. Choose a letter from the alphabet e.g. F. The teams race to think of words beginning with F to fit each category e.g. fishing, fly, fat frog, french fries. The first team to finish exits their break-out rooms and ‘stop the bus’ - you them bring all the other groups out of their break-out rooms. They get a point for each answer they have that no other team has gotten yet. To avoid cheating, make sure they write down their answers onto a mini-board or scrap of paper (not just think of them) and show you on their camera. Repeat with a new letter of the alphabet. This can also be adapted to practice pronunciation or word stress by having topics related to them e.g. words with /θ/, /ʃ/, /k/ /silent e/ sounds, etc. or first syllable stress, last syllable stress, etc.

Taboo - PZW

Describe a word without actually using the word itself so that students can guess what it is. For higher level learners, put them into break-out rooms and have them do the same, but include additional, related words which they cannot use. A quick search online will yield many examples. There's an example on our Materials page.

Teacher Says - RPZW

The teacher says ‘teacher says ...’ and gives a direction e.g. ‘...touch your toes’. All the student then repeat ‘touch your toes’ and they touch their toes. Continue with more directions. If you don’t say ‘teacher says’ the students shouldn’t follow your instruction. Any students that do, lose a life for their team. Stop when one team loses all their lives. One student can then take your place as the teacher.

Team Projects - P

Have groups of students collaborate on a shared document to complete some kind of project.

Tongue Twisters - PZW

There are many ways to use tongue twisters with a group of students. For example, drill them with the students then have them practice at home as homework making sure to prioritise accuracy over speed. Then you can have a competition with the group to see who can say them the fastest while still being comprehensible. Have the other students vote on how comprehensible their utterance is. There are tongue twisters available on our Materials page.

Who / What is it? - RPZW

One student starts thinking of a well-known person or thing. He / She then says, ‘I’m thinking of someone / something that ...’ and give a clue. The other students get to try to guess what it is. If they can’t, the first student gives another clue. The student who guesses what is being thought of first gets to become the speaker.

Words From Words - PZW

Write a fairly long word on the board. Students work individually to make as many words as possible from the letters in the initial word. For example, from the word ‘grandmother’ the following words can be made: and, red, hot, her, grand, heat, rat, meat, hate, dragon, mate, etc.

Writing Storm - PZW

The teacher tells the students they have 5 minutes to write about something, and sets a subject that will encourage personal rather than general responses e.g. 'the best thing to happen to me today'. The teacher tells the students they are looking for ideas and is not going to correct language. Make this a group activity by having students work together to make a story in a break-out room.

Yes/No - RZW

Simply ask questions and students respond with Yes or No, either in the chat box or by holding up a piece of paper with Yes on the front and No on the back. This can be used to check understanding or simply as a quick warmer/review activity. Make this a TPR activity by having students stand or sit accordingly.