Group Flyswatter - No Prep ESL Activity

Want a great lesson starter? Perhaps you're looking for a pick me up in the middle of a tough lesson? What do you do to wake your students up after a long day at school? Why not practice previously taught vocabulary at the same time?

We all know that repeated & varied vocabulary practice improves retention. However, the drills necessary for this to happen might be too tedious to carry out in some classrooms, esp if your students are not as committed or your class periods are scheduled at the end of the school day. Here is an engaging No Prep ESL activity that works for both young & old. You'll allow your ESL students a chance to stretch those bones without compromising valuable instructional time.

Skills Engaged: Vocabulary, Spelling
Materials: Flyswatters (if available; otherwise, brooms, sticks, canes, slippers, shoes, etc make for interesting alternatives), dry-erase markers, & whiteboard
Time: 15-30 min

Step by step:

  1. Divide the ss into groups of no more than 4-6 (depending on your class size). Give each group a marker. Ss will take turns to go up to the whiteboard & write a word of their choosing from the vocabulary that you have taught in the past (Don't prepare a list for them. Structure your lessons so that students are the ones putting in the effort to collect & record the vocabulary that they've been taught. You're not the learner, they are.). Representatives from different groups can write their words simultaneously so the whiteboard is populated quicker, but the words cannot repeat. Stop them when you have around 20-30 words on the board.
  2. Give each group a flyswatter (or an alternative). Tell them "one person from each group is going to line up here & listen to my question. When I have asked my question, you will run to the board & point at the correct answer. The first person to point at the correct answer wins one point for the group."
  3. Look at the words on the board & think of a question that can be answered by one or more of those words. Say your question & repeat only once. There are different ways to question: (a) WH questions: "When did the chicken cross the road?" (b) A definition: "This word means 'a type of food made from animals" (c) Fill in the blanks: "Your teacher is very what." (d) Metalanguage questions: "This is a noun with 8 letters." (e) A statement: "Something that happened to Amy last Friday."
  4. As ss frantically try to figure out the right answer, do not say anything until a s points to the right answer. At that point, say "yes" & award the point to the respective group/s (sometimes 2 ss can point at an answer at the same time).
  5. Ask, "what is the word?" + "what does it mean?" + "can somebody put it into a sentence?"
  6. Then, declare "who's next?". Make sure that every s gets a chance.
  7. Repeat #3-6 as necessary.

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