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 ESL alphabet 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, body parts (see more body parts ESL games here) or jobs, shopping, clothes (more ideas here: ESL Clothes Activities) along with a certain time limit. It also makes an excellent activity for holiday-themed lessons, for example, an ESL Halloween lesson.
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. Try out this fun ESL alphabet game today!
- Amazon Kindle Edition
- Bolen, Jackie (Author)
- English (Publication Language)
- 68 Pages - 11/12/2019 (Publication Date)
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.
More Ideas for Alphabet Games for English Learners
Alphabet games can be a fun and effective way to teach and reinforce letter recognition, letter-sound correspondence, and vocabulary in ESL classrooms. Here are some alphabet games for ESL:
Alphabet Relay Race
Divide the class into teams. Provide each team with a set of alphabet flashcards. Place a starting line and a basket or container at the opposite end of the room. Call out a letter, and the first student from each team must run to the flashcards, find the corresponding letter, and place it in the basket. The team that completes the task correctly and quickly earns a point. Continue with different letters.
Alphabet Scavenger Hunt
Hide alphabet flashcards or small objects representing each letter of the alphabet around the classroom. Assign students or teams to find the items and match them to the corresponding letter. Encourage students to name the letter and its sound as they find each item.
Alphabet Memory Game
Create a set of alphabet cards, each with a letter of the alphabet and a corresponding picture. Mix up the cards and lay them face down on a table or the floor. Students take turns flipping over two cards at a time, trying to match the letter with the corresponding picture. If a match is made, the student keeps the pair. The game continues until all the cards are matched.
Create bingo cards with letters of the alphabet randomly placed in the squares. Call out letters randomly, and students mark the corresponding letters on their bingo cards. The first student to get a complete row, column, or diagonal yells “Bingo!”
Write each letter of the alphabet on a small piece of paper and place them in a bag or container. Students take turns drawing a letter and acting out a word that starts with that letter. The other students guess the word. This game helps reinforce letter sounds and vocabulary.
Alphabet Relay Writing
Divide the class into teams and provide each team with a whiteboard or a large sheet of paper. Call out a word, and the first student from each team must run to the board/paper and write the word starting with the corresponding letter. The student then passes the marker to the next team member, who writes the next word starting with the subsequent letter. The relay continues until all letters of the alphabet are completed.
Create alphabet puzzles by cutting large letters into pieces. Mix up the pieces and distribute them to students or teams. Students must work together to assemble the puzzle and correctly identify the letter. This activity helps reinforce letter recognition and problem-solving skills.
Start with a simple sentence such as, “A is for apple.” Each student adds a sentence to continue the story, using the next letter of the alphabet. For example, “B is for ball,” “C is for cat,” and so on. This activity encourages creativity, vocabulary building, and letter-sound association.
Draw a hopscotch grid on the floor, but instead of numbers, write letters of the alphabet in each square. Students take turns tossing a small object onto the grid. They then hop to the square where the object landed, say the letter out loud, and provide a word that starts with that letter.
Alphabet Song Circle
Form a circle with students. Sing the alphabet song together. Each student takes a turn coming up with a word that starts with the next letter of the alphabet. This game encourages participation, listening skills, and vocabulary development.
Did you Like this Ato Z Game?
- Amazon Kindle Edition
- Smith, Jennifer Booker (Author)
- English (Publication Language)
- 134 Pages - 03/31/2016 (Publication Date)
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.
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Last update on 2022-07-17 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API