Vicky Loras

The Games Issue – Vicky Loras

Let’s Play! – Vicky Loras

Vicky Loras
There has been a lot of research into the positive effects of play on learning and children’s lives in general. We can also see it for ourselves! Some adults also enjoy some types of games – with adults we need to have their consent as we do not want to have them feel uncomfortable in any way. The games I will suggest can be adapted and suited both to young children and adults as well.

One of our favourites is You are the Teacher. It can be played in many ways. It can be anything that kids can handle and they need to step into the teachers’ shoes for this one. For instance, I take flashcards and give them to a child, and then to another, then another in turn, until everyone has been the teacher. You can either spread them on the floor and the child points to one, and the other kids answer what is depicted on the flashcard. What can be seen is that the child-teacher loves the responsibility and they also expand, not only yes/no answers, but they love to explain as well (Yes, that is the right one, because a tall bird is called an ostrich / No, that is not a blue egg, it is a brown one but that is okay, you can try again). What I have also seen is how much kids encourage one another – there may be the occasional giggle or so, but most of the times they take it very seriously and do a great job.

What can also be fun in You are the Teacher is that sometimes kids want the actual teacher to take part in the game (as with other games as well). In this case, most of the times I make sure I “make” a mistake. The kids have tons of fun “correcting” me and explaining to me, and sometimes even making recommendations that I study more at home!

Another one we like is The Long Word: this game was one of my favourites when I was little. I was taught this game by my cousin’s wife, who worked for the Board of Education in Canada.

The idea behind the game is this: you choose a big word and the students create new words using the letters from that specific one. Some words that can be used are encyclopedia, establishment, metamorphosis … anything with a lot of letters in it!

The best moment is when the students are the ones choosing the words. They come up with the greatest ideas! The teacher then gives them three minutes to find as many words as possible – the winner is the person with the most words – however, there is a necessary pre-requisite: they have to be words that really exist! Of course, it is up to the teacher to make it harder: for instance no names, no plurals, only verbs in infinitive form so it can turn a bit into a grammar mini-lesson as well.

The winner then reads the words s/he has found and everyone looks at their own, crossing out the ones they have too. If they have different ones that have not been mentioned, they read them out too.

This activity helps them to:

  • Learn new items of vocabulary, as the initial long word may very often be a word they have never encountered before.
  • Practise their spelling, as the new words they create need to be correct in their spelling – so even if they make mistakes, they remember them for another time.
  • Teach each other vocabulary, as they read out their own words.
  • Use some of the new words to write a story.

Younger and older students love this activity and they can learn a great deal from it! I hope your students enjoy it as well.

A third idea is Match the picture with the word, and it is a pretty easy game to prepare as well. The teacher chooses a topic they would like students to focus on, for instance, summer holidays. Then the teacher can find photos of their own or on the internet, or even draw pictures, of objects and activities related to that topic. The pictures can be cut into either flashcard-style cards or in various fun shapes, like clouds for example. Then the words have to be written on cards and also cut up. It is great if all of these can be laminated so they can be used over and over again.

What I do is I also stick a little bit of blue-tack on the back of each picture and vocabulary card, so the students can stick and move them on a whiteboard, wall or even door! The students need to put them in pairs, like the photo of a beach and next to it or underneath it, the word beach. You can adapt the difficulty of the words depending on the level and age if the students. This is great for them, as it is a very visual representation of the words and they connect the vocabulary in their heads, much more effectively than if they saw the words in a list.

Younger and older students love these activities – and they can learn a great deal from them! I hope you and your students find them beneficial as well. 


Connect with Vicky and other iTDi Associates, Mentors, and Faculty by joining iTDi Community. Sign Up For A Free iTDi Account to create your profile and get immediate access to our social forums and trial lessons from our English For Teachers and Teacher Development courses.

Like what we do? Become an iTDi Patron.
Your support makes a difference.

Published by

Vicky Loras

My name is Vicky Loras and I am an English Teacher, born in Toronto, Canada. For ten years, my sisters (Eugenia and Christine) and I owned an English School in Greece, The Loras English Academy, but I have now moved with my eldest sister to Switzerland, where I continue to work as an English teacher. I believe in teaching as an ongoing learning process, both for the benefit of the students and the teacher. For that reason I love attending workshops and conferences! Outside class you can usually find me at bookshops or libraries, I absolutely love books!

6 thoughts on “The Games Issue – Vicky Loras”

    1. Exactly, Naomi! They all love it and it also works when they get tired – they just fill up with energy! And what you mention about the weaker students is so important – it boosts their self-confidence.

  1. Hi Vicky

    Very glad to read your article.In fact games are a great effective way in learning and teaching, not only for kids but also for adults.Entertainment and fun need to be in every lesson we deliver and games make that happen.I try on a daily basis bring a sort of game to make my session light and enjoyable.Thanks for your insightful tips.

  2. Games are excellent both for leaning and revising things. They are fun, interesting and everybody likes them. They make learners more relaxed and engaged while learning. Thank you; Vicky, for sharing the games. (My young learners like the matching game a lot. We sometimes do it in a different way as well – we put the cards – both picture and word cards – on a desk with their face down and they try to look for the pairs/matches. Beside this game, they really adore miming.)

  3. Hi Vicky, you are such an inspiration to me. I enjoyed reading your blogs and loved watching your presentations on IDTI. I also like to use games with my students because I believe that by having fun they learn more. I am a teacher and also a mother of 3 daughters. Recently by youngest daughter who is 7 was crying. I went to her room and tried to comfort her. She complained and told me that my life was better and how she wished she was me. I went to lay on her bed and told her how tired I was of cleaning all day and doing the laundry and how I still had to go cook dinner even though I was extremely tired. So I used reverse psychology and told her that I wish I was a child. She can relax and play now after having helped me to clean up and how a mother’s work is never done. Since both of us wanted to be the other person we decided to change roles. She became the mom and I was the child. My daughter stopped crying and jumped up instantly and said she was going to prepare dinner. I pretended to relax on the bed. Later she came to ask me if I could help her with dinner because it is good for kids to help their moms. When it was dinner time she was speaking to ther older siblings and adressed them as “Sweetie, please eat all your vegetables,” “Sweetie, don’t talk with food in your mouth.” When she talked to my husband she called him “Honey.” As you can imagine it was a hilarious night. She enjoyed it so much that she wanted to do it again the next evening and my second daughter also cried because she wanted to be the mommy.

    In the same way our students also like to play the role of the teacher. When I play games like “Simon Says” or “Fruit Basket Upset” I usually start off the game being the teacher. After a few rounds I tell them that the person that is out is now the teacher and have to give the instructions. It is funny how some students deliberately make mistakes because they want to be the teacher. If I see this happening I usually tell them that if they are out 3 times they have to do something like sing a song, dance or write their name with their hips. When we play “Fruit Basket Upset” I also have a seat and participate in the game and the students love it when the teacher becomes one of them.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.