If you’re looking for a fun icebreaker or speaking game that can be used to review just about any grammar or vocabulary, then consider using this ball toss activity. It’s fun, student-centred and also engaging. Keep on reading to find out all the details you need to know about it today.
Beach Ball Toss Game
Time: 5-10 minutes
Level: Beginner to Intermediate
Materials: Lightweight ball (such as a beach ball) with questions written on it
Ball Toss is a 4-skills ESL activity with many variations. One variation I have used with great success is writing questions on a beach ball. I use a white board marker to write on the ball, but let it dry thoroughly before class, so it doesn’t smudge but it can be washed clean and reused with different questions later.
It’s ideal for everyone from kindy classes to adults. However, my favourite thing is to turn this into a ball toss icebreaker activity. Almost nothing helps students get to know each more than tossing around a big ball and answering questions, right?
How does this Beach Ball Toss Activity Work?
How this ESL activity works is that students gently toss the ball to one another and read aloud and answer the question under their right thumb. A more complex variation is: Student A reads/asks the question, tosses the ball to Student B, who answers that question, then asks the question under their right thumb, and tosses the ball to Student C, who answers Student B’s question.
If it’s a “getting to know you ESL activity,” use questions to elicit name, age, and basic information. Otherwise, it can be used to practice likes/dislikes, 5 W/H-questions, etc. It is quite a versatile activity and can be used with just about anything that you’re studying.
No Beach Ball? Use Paper
If you don’t have a ball handy, you can crumple up a piece of paper to use as a ball. Ask a question and toss the ball to a student. That student must answer and ask a question (the same question for true beginners or related question, if higher level), then toss the “ball” to the next student. If you want the students to ask different questions, you should give them a topic (daily routine, hobbies, etc.) or grammar pattern to use.
Or, if you want to make sure all students have equal turns, have students sit down after catching the ball. If you have more than 10-12 students in your class, you may want to divide them into groups, each with their own ball, so students aren’t waiting long periods between turns. This will also increase student talking time.
Teaching Tips for Ball Toss:
At the end, you may want to ask students questions about other students’ answers. Let students know before they begin that they need to listen closely to each other’s answers. This will make them more likely to pay attention between their own turns and, of course, provide additional listening and speaking practice.
Generally, this ESL activity can be used with all ages. You can even use it with younger students as long as their ability is high enough to answer the questions. The same for class size: you can use it for larger classes, as long as their level is move advanced, simply because they will be better suited to working in small groups with less attention needed from you.
If you have a class of 30 beginners, you might want to simply toss the ball and ask a question, rather than require them to read it, and have each student repeat the same question as they toss the ball. After 10-12 students have asked and answered the same question, take the ball and toss it to a different student, asking a new question.
Procedure for Ball Toss ESL Speaking Activity:
1. Prepare a beach ball by writing questions on it. Allow enough time for the ink to dry before class. Low prep version: crumple up a piece of scrap paper with the questions written on it.
2. Have students stand in a circle (as much as possible). If your class is large, divide students into groups of 10-12.
When a student catches the ball, they must read out the question under their right thumb. They answer their own question and toss the ball to another student.
When Student A catches the ball, they ask the question under their right thumb to Student B. When Student B answers, A tosses them the ball. Student B asks Student C the question under their right thumb and so on.
No Prep Variation:
The teacher asks a question and tosses the ball to Student A. Student A answers, asks Student B a question, and tosses them the ball.
Beach Ball Ice Breaker Questions
This ball toss game makes an excellent ESL ice breaker activity. Here are some toss and talk questions that you might want to consider using for it. Some of the questions have two variations depending on whether you’re using it for children or adults.
- What do you want to be when you grow up (what did you want to be)?
- What’s your favourite food?
- Who’s your favourite singer, author or movie star?
- Who do you spend the most time with?
- What’s been the best vacation you took (where do you want to travel to)?
- What do you usually do during summer vacation?
- What was your favourite toy as a kid (what’s your favourite toy)?
- In school, what was your favourite subject (what is your favourite subject)?
- When you spend time on the Internet, what do you do?
- What’s one food that you hate?
- If you were famous, what would it be for?
- How long does it take you to get ready for school/work?
- How long does it take you to get to school?
- Who cooks at your house usually?
- Are you a coffee drinker?
Love the Ball Toss Icebreaker?
- Amazon Kindle Edition
- Bolen, Jackie (Author)
- English (Publication Language)
- 148 Pages - 03/09/2016 (Publication Date)
If you love this ESL activity, it’s from the book 101 ESL Activities: For Teenagers and Adults. There are 100 more ESL activities just like it that are guaranteed to get your students having fun while learning English.
There is enough material for an entire year of classes and it’s easily organized into categories: 4-skills, listening + speaking, reading, writing, icebreakers + warm-ups. It’s lesson planning made easy, guaranteed.
You can easily get the book on Amazon in both print and digital formats. The digital one can be read on any smartphone, tablet, Mac or PC by downloading the free Kindle reading app. It’s the book that belongs on every single ESL/EFL teacher’s personal bookshelf.
Try This Out in your ESL Classes for Kids Too!
I LOVE to play board games, and I try to use them in my ESL classes. Kids love them and they’re a great way to review grammar or vocabulary. You can learn more about them in this short video:
Have your Say about the Beach Ball Toss Game
Have you tried this beach ball activity out in your TEFL classes? How did it go? Leave a comment below and let us know what you think. We’d love to hear from you.
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Last update on 2021-10-16 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API