If you’re looking for a fun, quick warmer activity that you can use with your English learners, then this A to Z game is one of our favourites. It’s simple, requires nothing in the way of materials and also doesn’t require anything in the way of preparation. If you’re a teacher, I’m sure you’ll want to have a few of these games in your back pocket!
This vocabulary a to z activity is ideal for helping students activate prior knowledge. If you’re teaching a unit about the weather, jobs or cities, then it’s likely students already know a good deal of words related to this topic. This activity challenges students to recall some of those things prior to jumping into the heart of your lesson.
A to Z Games: An Introduction
Target language: any sort of vocabulary
Time required: 5 minutes
Level: Beginner-intermediate (basic spelling and writing skills required)
The way it works is at that students write out the alphabet on a piece of paper, or you prepare a handout for them in advance. It should look like this:
And so on. Then, put students into pairs or small groups of 3-4. Give them a topic of the day. For example, animals or jobs, along with a certain time limit. If you choose animals, students would have to fill in as many letters as possible with an animal name. I only allow one animal per letter. For example:
As you can see, they don’t need to go in order and can jump up and down the list without penalty.
When the time is up, the winner is the team with the most vocabulary words related to the topic (check answers for the winning team to make sure!).
Alternatively, if you have a small class and are able to do this logistically, a fun variation is to check all the answers. And, if two (or more) of the answers are the same for a specific letter, then that point does not count. This helps to encourage students to choose more interesting, unusual words that they know and it’s obviously better for intermediate students than beginners.
Procedure for this A toZ Game
- Put students into partners or small groups (max of 4).
- Have one student write the alphabet on a piece of paper (or prepare a handout in advance).
- Assign a topic (animals or jobs for example).
- Students have to write down one word for each letter in the assigned amount of time. If they don’t know a letter, they can skip it and come back later.
- At the end, the team with the most words is the winner. I usually give a small prize of some kind.
- Alternatively, you can check all the answers and not count a point if two or more of the words are the same.
Teaching Tips for this ESL Vocabulary Game
Here are a few things to keep in mind if you’re going to use one of these A to Z games with your students. First of all, this activity takes only a few minutes. Don’t plan for it to be a big chunk of your lesson!
Be very clear that students can only write down one word per letter. And, that they can skip up and down the list if they’d like to, instead of going in order: A-B-C, etc. Many students don’t realize this unless you point it out.
Check out this A to Z Race
Do you want to see how an ESL activity like this works in action? Then you’ll want to check out this short YouTube video for all the details you need to know:
Did you Like this Ato Z Game?
Yes? Thought so. Then you’re going to love this book over on Amazon: 101 ESL Activities for Kids. The key to fun, engaging English classes with kids (or adults) is a variety of interesting activities and games. This book will certainly help you do it in style.
The best part is that the activities are well-organized into various sections, from speaking to writing, listening, reading, grammar and review, and more. You should be able to find what you’re looking for in just a minute or two. It’s lesson planning made easy, guaranteed.
You can find the book in both digital and print formats. Take the digital copy with you to your favourite coffee shop for lesson planning on the go. Or, keep a copy on the bookshelf in your office to use a handy guide when you make your lesson plans. It really is that easy!
Check out the book for yourself today, but only if you want to get yourself a serious dose of ESL teaching awesome in your life:
Have your Say about A to Z Games for ESL Students
What do you think about this A2Z game for English learners? Is it a winner, or is there another quick vocabulary warm-up that you’d like to recommend? Leave a comment below and let us know. We’d love to hear from you.
Also be sure to give this article a share on Facebook, Pinterest, or Twitter. It’ll help other busy teachers, like yourself find this useful resource.
Last update on 2019-10-14 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API