Written Charades - No Prep ESL Activity

How do you make sure your students pay attention to new vocabulary you've covered in your lessons & incentivize them to return to those from time to time? Every teacher knows charades & it's classic vocabulary game that's great for all levels & ages. But, what happens when one student/team completely dominates the game every time you play it? How do you make sure that everybody gets a chance to participate? Also, how do you know if your students can spell the words correctly?

I've figured out a No Prep way to tap into what makes the game great & engage all students without alienating those who are a little bit slow (like myself, I'm really bad at charades). Trust me, your students will frantically flip through their notes during this engaging ESL activity! Try this out & let me know how your lesson went! =)


Skills Engaged: Vocabulary, Cooperative Learning, Spelling
Materials: Dry-erase markers, & dry-erase tablets (you can make your own low-cost version by laminating white/colored paper)
Time: 15-20 min

Step by step:

  1. Place the ss into groups of not more than 4.
  2. Give each group a dry-erase tablet & marker.
  3. Explain the rules: "I will show a word to your friend. She cannot say anything, but she can act the word out. Your job is to figure out the word & write it down on the tablet. The words will come from <cite a passage/unit that you've studied>. Are you ready?"
  4. Invite a volunteer from one group to join you in front. (Have a different person each time.)
  5. Show the volunteer the word & allow her to act it out.
  6. Ss will write their answer on their tablets, but will hide their answers until you countdown from 5 & tell them to "show me your answers". They cannot change their answers then.
  7. Ask the volunteer to check the answers & award points accordingly.
  8. Repeat #4-7 as necessary.

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