Quick Review Games

Explanation

These activities are best used for quick repetition practice of vocabulary words. These activities can be used as part of a “communicative” portion of a lesson, depending on grade level.

Basketball

  1. Tape cards to empty baskets or boxes.
  2. Place the baskets against a wall at the end of the room, on the floor or on a table.
  3. The teacher says a target vocabulary word.
  4. The student tries to toss a ball into the correct basket.
  5. If the ball goes in, they get two points.
  6. Once the students learn the game, students can call out words for each other.

Basketball Variation

  1. If there is only one basket, spread several cards on the floor around the basket.
  2. The teacher says a word and the student tries to stand on the correct card.
  3. If they find the correct card, they get one point.
  4. If the ball goes in from that position, they get a second point.

Preparation: Easy

Materials:

  • Ball
  • Basket, box, or empty trash can
  • Flashcards or small cards

Grade Target: All

Bomb Game (爆弾ゲーム: Bakudan Game)

  1. Set a timer.
  2. Have students sit in a circle. For larger classes, this isn’t necessary.
  3. The teacher says the target vocabulary or sentence and passes the ball (the bomb) to the neighboring student.
  4. The student says the target vocabulary or sentence and passes the ball to the next student.
  5. Students continue to pass the ball until the timer goes off.
  6. The student holding the ball is the loser.

Bomb Game Variations

  1. Do a batsu game (罰ゲーム) with the losing student and have them say vocabulary words, target sentences, a little dance, or imitation of popular celebrities (物まね: mono mane).
  2. Use inflatable balloons instead of a ball and have students hit the balloons in random directions.
  3. Use multiple balls.
  4. Get a box or can and put the timer inside for a more realistic “bomb.”
  5. Show students vocabulary cards instead of having them come up with the target themselves.

Bomb Game Variation: Throw and Catch

  1. Set a timer.
  2. Have students stand in a circle.
  3. The teacher says the target vocabulary or sentence and throws a ball to one student.
  4. The student says the target vocabulary or sentence and throws the ball to another student.
  5. Students continue to throw and catch until the timer goes off.
  6. The student holding the ball is the loser.

Preparation: Easy

Materials:

  • Ball
  • Flashcards
  • Timer

Grade Target: All

Bowling

  1. Tape cards to three or four bowling pins or plastic bottles.
  2. Spread the pins out at one end of the room.
  3. The teacher says a word, and a student tries to knock that pin down with a ball.
  4. Once the students learn the game, they can call vocabulary out for each other.

Bowling Variation

  1. Instead of using bowling pins or plastic bottles, clothes pins or clips can be used to stand up cards.
  2. Once students have knocked down cards, they must say the word on the card.

Preparation: Moderate

Materials:

  • Ball
  • Pins or plastic PET bottles
  • Flashcards or small cards

Grade Target: Low to Middle

 

Charades (Gesture Game)

  1. Split the class into teams.
  2. Show the first student from each team different vocabulary flashcards.
  3. The students use gestures to try to tell their team the word.
  4. The rest of the teams try to guess what the word is.
  5. The first team to guess correctly gets one point.

Preparation: Easy

Materials:

  • Flashcards

Grade Target: Middle to High

Chopsticks Race

  1. Split the class into several teams.
  2. Spread a lot of small cards out on one side of the room, and have teams sit at the other side of the room.
  3. Give the first student in each team a pair of chopsticks.
  4. The teacher calls out a word.
  5. The students race to pick up and hold the card with the chopsticks and give it to the teacher.
  6. The fastest team gets a point, and the team with the most points wins.

Chopsticks Race Variation: Straw/Spoon Spelling

Before class, make a list of target words or sound combinations. Spread out letter cards on tables or the floor. Make sure there are enough cards to spell all of the target words or sounds at least twice.

  1. Split the class into teams and have them sit on a side of the room opposite the cards.
  2. The teacher calls out a word.
  3. One member of each team uses a straw or spoon to pick up the letter cards needed to spell that word and puts them into a cup.
  4. Teammates can help by pointing out what letters are needed and where they are.
  5. Once a team has all the letters, they can attempt to spell and say the word.  If they are correct, their team gets a point.

Preparation: Difficult

Materials:

  • Multiple alphabet or phonics cards
  • List of sounds or words

Grade Target: High

Climb the Ladder

  1. Split the class into small teams.
  2. Draw a ladder on the blackboard.
  3. Spread cards face down on a table.
  4. One student from each team picks up one card and reads it.
  5. If students can read the card, they stick the card to the bottom of the ladder.
  6. The team which can stick cards to the top of the ladder first wins.

Preparation: Easy

Materials:

  • Flashcards or small cards

Grade Target: Low to Middle

Criss-Cross (横縦ゲーム: Yoko Tate Game)

  1. Have all the students stand up.
  2. Show students a flashcard and pick the first student to raise their hand.
  3. If the student answers correctly, they get to pick either horizontal (: yoko) or vertical (: tate).
  4. The horizontal or vertical row including the student then sits down.
  5. The last student standing does a Batsu Game (罰ゲーム), which can be vocabulary words, target sentences, a little dance, or imitation of popular celebrities (物まね: mono mane).
  6. Once students learn the game, let them choose “Me” or diagonal (斜め: naname) options as well.

Preparation: Easy

Materials:

  • Flashcards

Grade Target: Middle to High

Four Corners

  1. Put vocabulary cards in corners and around the room.
  2. Say a word and have students run to that area or touch that card.
  3. Repeat this several times.

Four Corners Variation

  1. Put enough vocabulary cards around the room for all the students or student groups.
  2. Play music and have everyone march around the room while singing.
  3. When the music stops, students or student groups run and touch a free card.
  4. When all students have a card, they say the word.

Four Corners Variation: Touch Something (color)

  1. The target vocabulary is colors.
  2. The teacher says “Touch something red!”
  3. If students are standing, students all look around the room, find something red, and touch it.
  4. If students are sitting, they look inside their desks and hold up red crayons or colored pencils.

Four Corners Variation: Shark Attack

  1. Have some vocabulary words on walls around the room.
  2. Say a word and have students run to the area with that card.
  3. The slowest students are “eaten” by the “shark” (teacher) and sit down.
  4. Additional actions can be added, such as:
    1. “Crocodile”—students thrash around like a crocodile.
    2. “Kangaroo”—students jump like a kangaroo.

Preparation: Easy

Materials:

  • Flashcards or small cards
  • CD player, music CD, or crayons

Grade Target: Low to Middle

Guess

  1. Give one student group a vocabulary card. Tell the group not to show it to the other students.
  2. The other students guess what the group has, using the target sentence (e.g.: Do you have a sister?). If they cannot guess, the group can give hints using gestures or words.
  3. The student who has guessed correctly chooses another card and the other students ask his or her group questions about the card.

Preparation: Easy

Materials:

  • Flash cards or small cards

Grade Target: Middle to High

Hopscotch

  1. Make a hopscotch board on the floor.
  2. Place vocabulary cards in each box.
  3. Students start at one end and jump to the word the teacher says.
  4. Once students learn the game and words, they can call out the words.
  5. To increase difficulty, have students move backwards, sideways, or jump over boxes.
  6. For more advanced classes, you can make a more complex board.

Preparation: Easy

Materials:

  • Tape
  • Flashcards or small cards

Grade Target: Low to Middle

Key Word Game

  1. Break students into pairs and have them put one eraser between them.
  2. Choose a key word and have students repeat it several times.
  3. Start saying vocabulary and have students repeat. Have students clap twice to divide separate words, or have students put their hands on their head for longer sentences. word on the third beat.
    Example: banana, * *, banana, * *
    or this is a banana * (rest), this is a banana * (rest).
  4. When you say the key word, students race each other to grab the eraser.

Preparation: Easy

Materials:

  • Flashcards

Grade Target: All

Message Game (伝言ゲーム: Dengon Game)

  1. Divide students into teams and have them line up. Longer teams will take more time and have more interesting mistakes.
  2. Say a word quietly to the last student in a line.
  3. Students will pass the word from the last to the first student.
  4. The first student will:
    1. Tell the teacher the word.
    2. Grab and give the vocabulary card to the teacher.
    3. Draw the word on the blackboard
  5. Points can be given to teams according to correctness or speed.
  6. The first student goes to the back of the line and all students move one spot forward.

Preparation: Easy

Materials:

  • Flashcards or several sets of small vocabulary cards

Grade Target: All

Monster Bingo

This is a team bingo game where students work together to destroy a monster. It is especially useful for body parts or Halloween vocabulary.

  1. Give each student a 3×3, 4×4, or 5×5 bingo sheet.
  2. Students write target vocabulary in the blanks.
  3. Draw a large monster on the blackboard.
  4. Put some vocabulary cards in a bag.
  5. Either the teacher or students draw words from the bag.
  6. Say the word and have students repeat and circle the word on their bingo sheets.
  7. Once a student has bingo, they can choose a part of the monster to destroy (e.g.: nose, mouth).
  8. Play until the monster is cleaned off the board or to a time limit.

Monster Bingo Variations

  1. If students cannot say the word, draw another part of the monster on the board.
  2. Instead of having students draw cards from a bag, have them throw a small sticky ball at flashcards on the blackboard. If they miss a card, draw a monster part.
  3. Instead of simply erasing monster body parts, students throw a sticky ball at the monster, and erase body parts that get hit.

Preparation: Moderate

Materials:

  • Bingo sheets
  • Small cards or flashcards
  • Sticky ball

Grade Target: Low to Middle
 

Musical Chairs (椅子取りゲーム: Isutori Game)

  1. Have students make a circle with only their chairs, but remove one chair.
  2. Play music and have students walk around.
  3. When the music stops, students rush to sit down. The student that cannot sit down must say a vocabulary word.

Musical Chairs Variation: Musical Cards

  1. Make a circle with student chairs, but have enough for all students
  2. Place vocabulary cards on all the student chairs.
  3. When the music stops, the teacher says a word using the target sentence.
  4. The first students to touch the correct vocabulary card gets a point or takes the card out of the circle.

Preparation: Moderate

Materials:

  • Flashcards or several sets of small vocabulary cards

Grade Target: Low to Middle

Pass the Dice

This game works only with very small classes, such as those in private schools or special education classes.

  1. Make a very large six-sided die.
  2. Photocopy flashcards and put the copies on the sides of the die.
  3. Throw the dice to a student. When the student catches the die, he or she says the word or target sentence according to the vocabulary word on top.
  4. The student throws the die to another student, and so on.

Pass the Dice Variation

  1. Make a die using action word flashcards, such as jump, run, walk, sit, and dance.
  2. Students throw the dice and do the action on the top face.

Preparation: Moderate

Materials:

  • Large cardboard die

Grade Target: Low to Middle

Pictionary

  1. Split the class into teams.
  2. Show a student from any team a flashcard.
  3. The student draws the related picture on the blackboard.
  4. The teams try to guess what the word is or spell the word.
  5. The first team to guess correctly gets one point.

Preparation: Easy

Materials:

  • Flashcards

Grade Target: Middle to High


Race

  1. Put small cards or flashcards in a circle on the blackboard, creating a sort of race track. Each student or team has their own game piece.
  2. Decide how many times students go around the circle.
  3. The student or team rolls a die and moves the game piece the number of cards around the race track.
  4. The first student or student team to go the set number of times around the track is the winner.

Race Variation: Phonics Race

  1. Divide students into groups.
  2. Make a racetrack with alphabet or phonics cards.
  3. Students roll the die and move their game piece around the track.
  4. When students land on a card, they write the letter on a worksheet.
  5. The winner of the game is the student who can write down or read the most different letters (correctly) before reaching the limit.

Preparation: Easy to Moderate

Materials:

  • Flashcards
  • Small vocabulary, alphabet, or phonics cards
  • Card tracking worksheet (optional)
  • Playing pieces

Grade Target: Middle to High

Say the Word in a Four-Beat Rhythm

    1. The first student says the first word for the first two beats, a second word on the third beat, and then rest on the fourth beat.
    2. The next student repeats the rhythm using the second word on the first two beats and adds a new word on the third beat.

Example:
Teacher: Father, father, mother, * (one
beat rest).

Student 1: Mother, mother, sister, * (one
beat rest).

Student 2: Sister, Sister, pet, * (one beat
rest).

  1. If a student makes a mistake, he or she loses. Then the game starts again.
  2. Start at a slow speed, and then speed up the game.

Preparation: Easy

Materials:

  • Flashcards
  • Rhythm CD (optional)

Grade Target: All

Slam/Karuta (カルタ: Karuta)

  1. Divide the class into small groups.
  2. Spread a set of small cards on the table or floor in the center of the group.
  3. Students put their hands on their heads.
  4. When the teacher calls out a word, other students try to touch the card.
  5. The successful students say the what the card is and takes the card.
  6. When the cards run out, the students with the most cards are the winners.

Slam Variations

  1. Have students or winning students from previous rounds of Slam call out the words.
  2. Have all the students repeat the word or use it in a target sentence after taking cards.

Preparation: Moderate

Materials:

  • Multiple sets of small cards

Grade Target: All

Slowly Reveal

  1. Hide a flashcard behind a blank piece of paper or cardboard.
  2. Slowly push the card up, down, left, or right, revealing the picture.
  3. As the card is being revealed, ask students what it is.
  4. Once they guess the word, have all the students repeat the word.

Slowly Reveal Variation

  1. Divide the class into teams and give points to the team that guesses the word first.

Slowly Reveal Variation: Envelope Reveal

  1. Find an envelope, piece of paper, or piece of cardboard  large enough to hold, wrap around, or hide vocabulary cards
  2. Make random holes and patterns in the envelope or paper, which can be easily done with several folds and small cuts.
  3. Put a flashcard in the envelope or behind the paper and ask students what it is.
  4. If students cannot guess, move the card around or slowly pull it out of the envelope.
  5. The activity can be made more difficult with fewer or smaller holes, or easier with more or larger holes.

Slowly Reveal Variation: Quickly Flash

  1. Quickly flash the students a vocabulary card and then hide it.
  2. Have the students guess what they saw.
  3. Repeat this a few times, showing the card more and more slowly.
  4. When students know what the card is, practice the word.

Preparation: Easy

Materials:

  • Paper, cardboard, or envelope
  • Flashcards

Grade Target: Low to Middle

 

Snake

  1. All the students play together as one team.
  2. On the blackboard, draw a snake’s head. Have the open mouth be a large circle.
  3. Draw the body and divide it into many segments, around double the number of vocabulary cards.
  4. Take a playing piece and show the team that it is their piece—that it is them.
  5. Put the piece in the final tail segment.
  6. Demonstrate, not explain, how the game works:
    1. Show how the piece can move up the snake and out of the mouth.
    2. Mime the mouth closing.
    3. Make noises like a snake enjoying dinner: “Oh no!”
  7. Check to see if students understand all the cards. Make a pile for cards students know well and a pile for cards student’s don’t know well.
  8. For every card the students do not know, draw a triangle (tooth) in the mouth of the snake, representing the mouth closing.
  9. For every card the students know well, move the playing piece one segment out towards the mouth. Shuffle the cards and begin again. Can the class escape before all the triangles are drawn and the mouth closes?
  10. Play the game at a fast pace. If students learn the cards quickly, stop showing the cards and give hints or gestures.

Snake Variation

  1. For large classes, instead of having the class as a whole answer, have individual students stand up and try to answer within a few seconds.

Preparation: Easy

Materials:

  • Flashcards
  • Playing pieces

Grade Target: All

Soccer

  1. Make a soccer ball card.
  2. Divide students into two teams.
  3. Draw a large soccer field on the board, but separate the field into at least six spaces. Put the soccer ball in the center of the field.
  4. Decide which team goes first through janken.
  5. Have the first students of each team stand up. Draw a vocabulary card, and the first of these students to say the word (using the target sentence) is the winner of the round. Move the soccer ball one space towards the losing team’s goal.
  6. Repeat the process with the second, third, and continuing students of each team until the team scores a goal.

Preparation: Easy

Materials:

  • Flashcards
  • Soccer ball card

Grade Target: Middle to High

Target Game

  1. Divide the class into teams.
  2. If the target is phonics, the teacher writes sounds/sound combinations around the board (or dictates them for students to write). If the target is vocabulary, the teacher places flashcards around the board.
  3. The teacher calls out the sound or word.
  4. A student from each team throws a sticky ball at the board and tries to hit the sound or word.
  5. If they hit the target, they get a point. If they can say it correctly, they get another point.
  6. The teacher crosses off the target and the next students try.

Target Game Variation: Skull and Crossbones

1.      In addition to the sounds or flashcards, the teacher draws one or more skull and crossbones on the board.

2.      If students hit and say the target correctly, they get points.

3.      If students hit nothing, they get no points.

4.      If students hit a skull and crossbones, they lose a point.

Preparation: Easy

Materials:

  • Flashcards
  • Sticky ball

Grade Target: Middle to High


Tic-Tac-Toe

  1. Divide the class into groups, with each group divided into a team.
  2. Each team needs several of the same type of token (coins or pieces of colored paper).
  3. Make a 3×3, 4×4, or 5×5 grid with small cards.
  4. One student from the first team points to one card and say the word.
  5. If they are correct, they put their team’s marker on the card.
  6. The other team follows the same process.
  7. The game ends when a team gets a complete line, when a time limit is reached, or give points for any complete lines of three.

Preparation: Moderate

Materials:

  • Tic-tac-toe worksheets
  • Small cards
  • Playing pieces or tokens

Grade Target: All

Tornado

  1. Prepare multiple sets of small vocabulary cards.
  2. Make two or three Tornado cards for each set.
  3. Show students how to draw a simple house on the blackboard (A house with no windows and a door should be about 10 lines).
  4. Divide the class into several teams.
  5. The first students from each team comes up to the teacher, randomly draws a card from the gathered sets, and says the word or uses the word in a sentence.
  6. If students can say the word correctly, they draw part of a house (1 line).
  7. The goal of the game is to be the first team to draw their house completely.
  8. If a student draws a Tornado card, their house is destroyed (erased) and the team starts over again.

Preparation: Easy

Materials:

  • Multiple sets of flashcards or small cards
  • Tornado cards

Grade Target: All

Toss

  1. Divide the class into teams.
  2. Spread out flashcards on the floor.
  3. The first students in each team stand up at a marked distance from the cards and throw a beanbag onto the cards.
  4. When a student successfully throws the beanbag onto a card, he or she says the word or target sentence and takes the card.
  5. The next students in each team continue.
  6. The game continues until there are no more cards on the floor.
  7. The winner is the team with the most cards.

Toss Variation

  1. Place cards at increasingly distant spots, and assign higher points to the farthest cards and lower points to the closest cards.
  2. The winning team is the team with the most points.

Preparation: Easy

Materials:

  • Flashcards
  • Bean bags

Grade Target: All

What’s Missing?

  1. Put all the flashcards on the blackboard and give students some time to look at the cards.
  2. Have students close their eyes.
  3. Take a card down and hide it.
  4. Have students open their eyes and guess the missing card.

What’s Missing Variation

  1. Have students be the teacher and hide the cards.
  2. Hide multiple cards and shuffle the remaining cards around.

Preparation: Easy

Materials:

  • Flashcards

Grade Target: All