Wordplay's Classroom Game Ideas

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Written by a teacher who spent nearly a decade living & teaching in Hanoi, this guide is great for anyone looking to get more comfortable in Vietnam. It includes great games & activities sections in the appendix.

Please add your favorite games to our database by filling out the form below.

Picture Card games


  • Invite several students to the board and ask them to stand in a row. 
  • Give each student a Picture Card and ask him/her to keep it secret from the class.
  • The first student in the row says a word that might or might not correspond with the card he/she is holding.
  • Students guess whether or not he/she is bluffing and say, Bluff! if they think he/she is bluffing.
  • Divide the class into teams and award points when students guess correctly.

Collect the Cards

  • Hold up any Picture Card.
  • If a student can correctly identify it, he/she is allowed to keep it.
  • The student with the most cards at the end of the game is the winner.

Correct Order

  • Call four to eight students to the front of the class (according to the number of Picture Cards) and give them each a Picture Card.
  • Then call out four cards in random order.
  • Students have to arrange themselves in the correct order.

Easy or Difficult

  • Divide twenty Picture Cards into two piles — an easy pile and a difficult pile.
  • Divide the class into two teams.
  • Each team is awarded five points if they correctly name a card from the difficult pile and two points for knowing a card from the easy pile.
  • Use homemade picture cards of words from the cross-curricular pages to make the activity more challenging.


  • Explain the meaning of the word “echo.” Ask students to be your echo.
  • Show them a Picture Card and say the item on it.
  • Ask students to echo it by repeating several times and becoming quieter and quieter.

Face Race

  • Give each student a number between 1 and 10.
  • Stick the face Picture Cards on the board or draw a picture of a face.
  • Say, Number (2), (Nose).
  • All students assigned number (2) race to the board and touch the (nose).
  • Alternatively, play the game with three or four teams, assigning each student from each team a number.

Guess the Card

  • Cut out a small square in the center of a piece of A4 size paper.
  • Hold the sheet in front of a Picture Card, allowing students to see only a small part of the picture through the hole.
  • Students guess the item.

Hit The Card

  • Stick all the Picture Cards of one vocabulary category on the board in mixed order.
  • Call two students to the front of the room to stand a meter or two from the board.
  • Call out a word.
  • The first student to run to the board and “hit” the correct card wins.
  • Play the game in teams and award points for each correct “hit.”

Memory Game

  • Stick four or five Picture Cards on the board.
  • After students memorize the cards, remove them from the board and students say the items.
  • To make the game more challenging, ask students to say the cards in the order they appeared on the board.

Name That Card

  • Divide the class into two teams.
  • Invite a student from each team to come to the front of the class and turn their back to you.
  • Hold up a Picture Card and count to three and say, Turnaround.
  • The first student to turn around and correctly identify the card is awarded a point for his/her team.
  • Continue with other Picture Cards.

Pass the Cards

  • Choose five Picture Cards and pass them face down around the classroom at intervals, so students cannot see the cards.
  • When you say, Stop, ask, Who has the (dog)?
  • Students guess who has the Picture Card of the (dog).

Picture Card Mime

  • Invite a student to the front of the classroom. Show him/her a card while hiding it from the rest of the class.
  • He/She mimes the word silently.
  • The student who correctly guesses the word is the next one to come forward.


  • Write a word on the board or say an item from a specific group of Picture Cards.
  • Show several cards one by one.
  • Students shout, Snap! when they see the corresponding card.

Sort the Cards

  • Divide the class into small groups.
  • Mix Picture Cards from different units together and divide them into piles according to the number of groups.
  • Students arrange them back into categories, e.g., colors, animals, family members, etc.
  • The first group to finish is the winner.

Sponge Throw

  • Place Picture Cards face up on the floor or large table.
  • Students throw a sponge or another soft object and identify the card it lands on.


  • Divide the class into two teams. One is “O” and the other is “X”
  • Draw a large grid on the board with nine spaces.
  • Stick one Picture Card in each space facing toward the board. Students select a card, turn it over and say the. word on the Picture Card.
  • If it is correct, remove the Picture Card and write an “O” or an “X” accordingly.

What’s Missing?

  • Place several Picture Cards face up on the floor or on a large table.
  • Allow students a few minutes to study them.
  • Tell students to close their eyes and remove a card.
  • Students have to correctly identify the missing card.

Where Is It?

  • Stick Picture Cards in different places around the classroom.
  • Call out one of the items and students find and point to the correct card.
  • Alternatively, say a sentence containing the item, e.g., I like apples, and students point to or retrieve the Picture Card of the apple.

Who Has It?

  • Invite several students to the board and give a different Picture Card to each.
  • Students hold their cards up to show the class.
  • Ask, Who has the (apple)?
  • Students point and answer, He/She has the (apple).

Who’s the Fastest?

  • Divide the class into two teams.
  • Stick a number of Picture Cards on the board.
  • Invite two students to stand facing the cards on different sides of the board.
  • Call out one of the words.
  • The student who is the fastest to touch the card wins a point for his/her team.

TPR Games

Aye, Aye, Captain!

  • You are the captain. Give orders to the class.
  • This is a useful activity to review actions, parts of the body, colors, numbers, and classroom objects.
  • For example, order, Jump three times. Touch your head. Turn around.
  • Students say, Aye, aye, Captain! and carry out the order.
  • Model a few times and then invite students to be the captain.


  • Ask a question to a student. If he/she answers correctly, he/she has a shot at the basket.
  • If the student gets the ball in the basket, he/she wins two points.
  • If he/she only hits the basket, he/she wins one point.
  • The student with the most points is the winner.
  • This game can also be played in teams.

Chair Race

  • Divide the class into two teams. Each team stands in a line with a chair at the front of the line and another chair a few meters across the room.
  • A student from each team sits in the chair at the front of his/her line.
  • Call out an action, e.g., Jump!
  • The students must jump to their team‘s chair on the other side of the room.
  • The first student to sit on the chair after doing the correct action wins a point for his/her team.

Guess the Object

  • Place an object in a bag fora student to feel, e.g., toy food or plastic animals.
  • He/She must guess what the object is without looking.

Number Groups

  • Play some lively music and ask students to perform a specific action (e.g., jump, walk, hop) around the classroom.
  • Stop the music and call  out a number from 2 to 5.
  • Students must quickly get together in groups of that number.
  • Students who do not manage to form a group of the correct number must sit out until the next round.

Pass the Ball

  • Students stand in a large circle.
  • Make a paper ball (or use a softball), then call out a category, e.g., family, and throw the ball to a student.
  • He/She must say a word in the category you mentioned.
  • He/She then throws the ball to another student who says another word in the same category.
  • If a student drops the ball, he/she must sit down.
  • Continue until one student remains.

Question Throw

  • Throw a softball to a student and ask a question.
  • The student answers the question and throws the ball to another student, asking another question, e.g., Can you swim? Yes, I can. /No, I can’t.
  • Continue until all students have had a turn to ask and answer.

Sequence Throw

  • Say a day of the week, e.g., Wednesday, and throw a softball to a student.
  • He/She says the following day of the week and throws the ball to another student.
  • They go on until someone makes a mistake.
  • Play this game to practice any lexical set that involves a sequence, such as ordinal numbers, time, and months of the year.

Teacher Says

  • Give the students instructions but tell them to follow the instructions only if they are preceded by ‘Teacher says.”
  • If you say, Pick up a pencil, students should do nothing, but if you say, Teacher says pick up a pencil, students must pick up a pencil.
  • They are out of the game if they do an action when they should not.
  • Vary the speed of the instructions to make the game more interesting.
  • You could also ask some students to give the instructions.

Team Games

Category Writing

  • Divide the class into groups. Each group chooses their “captain.”
  • Write the name of a vocabulary category on the board, e.g., sports, food, or animals.
  • Each group tells their captain to write as many words as they can which belongs to that category.
  • They have one or two minutes to do that.
  • Each group takes one point for each correct word.
  • Pay close attention to spelling.


  • Divide the class into two groups.
  • Write down vocabulary words on strips of paper.
  • Choose a member from each group to come up to the front of the class.
  • Take one of the strips of paper and show it to the two students.
  • Next, ask them to face their groups, with their backs turned against each other.
  • Without talking, the students act out the vocabulary for their group to guess.
  • Set a time limit of 60 seconds.
  • The student who correctly guesses the vocabulary word first wins the round and earns a point for his/her group.
  • The group with the highest score wins the game.


  • Cut out several items of clothing from different colors of card, e.g., a pink skirt, a black T-shirt, a green shoe, and an orange dress.
  • Stick the clothes on the board in a line.
  • Alternatively, pin them to a real length of string hung to look like a clothesline.
  • Give students a few minutes to study the order of the clothes.
  • Remove the clothes cards.
  • Now students draw and color the clothes in the same order.
  • Students could also label the clothes to make this more challenging.
  • If you do not have much time, students could simply recite the order.
  • Play this game in teams and award points for correct answers.

Drawing Race

  • Divide the class into two teams and invite a student from each team to the front of the class.
  • Whisper a word to the two students.
  • Each student draws the item on the board.
  • The first team to identify the picture correctly wins a point.

Name the Shape

  • Cut out several shapes from colored paper.
  • Stick or carefully pin a shape to the back of a student’s shirt without the student seeing the shape.
  • The student turns around to reveal the shape to the class.
  • He/She tries to guess which shape and color it is.
  • Elicit, A blue triangle? A red square
  • For more confident classes, suggest that when the volunteer guesses the correct shape but the wrong color, the class shouts, Shape!
  • Likewise, when the student guesses the correct color but the wrong shape, the class shouts, Color!


  • Play a guessing game in teams.
  • Draw a large parachute on the board with some strings leading to a stick figure hanging from the parachute.
  • Think of a word students have learned and draw a dash inside the parachute for each letter in the word.
  • Students from one team try to guess the word.
  • For each incorrect guess, erase one of the parachute’s strings.
  • Award points to the team when they guess the word correctly.
  • If all the parachute’s strings are erased before students guess the word, then that team loses a point.
  • To make it more interesting, draw a shark emerging from the sea below the stick figure.

Phonics Race

  • Divide the class into several groups.
  • Call out a letter-sound.
  • Students write as many words containing the letter-sound as possible during a given amount of time.
  • Award students one point for each correct word.

Spelling Bee

  • Divide the class into two teams.
  • The first player on Team A is given a word to spell.
  • If correct, the team gets a point.
  • This can also be done as a class competition, by having students line up and given words one by one.
  • When they make a mistake they sit down.
  • The last student standing is the winner.

Wordplay's Teacher Training Videos

Tricky Word Training

Speaking Training

Curriculum Overview

Wordplay Assessment Procedures Updated February 2023