Learn Our Favorite Effective Classroom Activities Which Need No Advance Prep Time

easy ESL games with no prep time

Learn and Enjoy With These Top 5 Quick Preparation Games

Have you ever been stuck for ideas when deciding on what games to play in your English class? Here at Ago Kids ESL we have prepared 5 of our favorite ESL games that you can play in your lessons with minor preparation. All games can be played with your own materials or if you would like a helping hand then you can use our own free downloadable ESL flashcards and free downloadable ESL worksheets to give you a little more time to finish your coffee.

1. The Typhoon Game

  • Preparation Time: 1 minute to draw
  • Required Materials: Whiteboard, point chart for teacher
  • Target ESL Student Age: 5 – 100 years old
  • Number of Students: 2 or more students (great for large classes too!)

We love this game because it is exciting for both the students and the teacher. “The Typhoon Game” is an awesome way to review vocabulary and grammar and the choice of questions is endless. The game is fast paced, fun, and educational, and is a great way to review the day’s lesson.

How to Play “The Typhoon Game”

Step 1

Separate the class into groups of 2-5. For larger classes you can use the rows of seats in your classroom to decide groupings.

Step 2

On the board draw a 4×4, 5,×5 or a 6×6 grid depending on how many students there are and how much time you have to play.

At the top of the grid write the numbers 1-6 and on the left side write the letters a-f.

Step 3

Write down points for each square on a piece of paper (don’t let your students see this paper) and put 4-6 typhoon symbols in some of the boxes instead of numbers.

The points are a great way to practice numbers, so use numbers which challenge your students. Sometimes we even use negative numbers or numbers like 999,999!

Step 4

The game is now set up and ready to play.

You can now ask questions to review material that you have studied previously in your class, such as “What’s this?” “It’s a ______.” Ago Kids ESL flashcards can be also be used to help review vocabulary for the game.

When a student successfully answers a question have them choose 1 space on the board using full sentences to describe which they would like, for example “I want A-2”. That team will be awarded the points for that space. When a student picks a space with a typhoon on it, then that team receives no points, but can choose to erase all the points from another team.

Once all the spaces have been chosen, the students can practice their math skills by adding up the points saying “7+15+5=27”

2. English Race Time (Snakes and Ladders)

  • Preparation Time: 1 Minute to print the game board
  • Required Materials: Game board, 1 counter for each student, dice
  • Target ESL Student Age: 3 – 100 years old
  • Number of Students: 1 student vs. teacher or up to 6 students per game board

English Race Time Game

Snakes and ladders has always been a classroom favorite, so we made our own free downloadable version called “English Race Time”. It is a simple and enjoyable way to learn English. It can be played with only 2 players for one-to-one lessons or in groups for larger classes. It’s a favorite of ours at Ago Kids ESL, because it only requires the game board, dice and counters, which can be downloaded at Game Time ESL Worksheets.

How to Play “English Race Time”

Step 1

Print out and laminate our free Ago Kids ESL “English Race Time” game set.


English Race Time Game

Step 2

Roll a dice or play rock, scissors, paper to decide who goes first.

In a clockwise order have each student throw the dice and move along the board, counting each space out loud.

English Race Time Game

Step 3

When a student lands on their space, have them call out the attached picture or use the target grammar points, such as “What’s this?” “It’s a ______”.

Continue playing until one student reaches the finish line.

More advanced questions or sentence patterns can be asked for higher level students.

3. The Quiz Game

  • Preparation Time: 30 seconds to write some sample questions on the board (optional)
  • Required Materials: Whiteboard (optional)
  • Target ESL Student Age: 5 – 100 years old
  • Number of Students: 1 student vs. teacher or 2 or more students

ESL Quiz Game kids

“The Quiz Game” is a simple and effective way to warm up a small class. It allows each student to practice using English with other students and requires no preparation. The game focuses on important questions, such as “Are you _____ ?”, “Can you _____ ?” and “Do you _____ ?”, although other question words can be used for more advanced students.

How to Play “The Quiz Game”

Step 1

One by one have each student ask an “Are you _____ ?”, “Can you _____ ?” or a “Do you ______ ?” question to another student. The student cannot ask the same question to the same student twice, so it will be useful to have flashcards on hand to give enough options to the students. You can find many options in our “How Is The Weather?”, “Can You Fly Butterfly?” and “What Animals Do You Like?” flashcards.


Step 2

If a student answers “Yes, I _____” to any question, then the student who asked the question receives 5 points.

The game can continue to be played for any amount of time, or until one student reaches a certain amount of points.

4. The Sit Down Vocabulary Challenge

  • Preparation Time:  No preparation time
  • Required Materials: No materials required
  • Target ESL Student Age: 3 – 100 years old
  • Number of Students: 3 or more students (great activity for large classes)

We often play “Sit Down Vocabulary Challenge” in the Ago Kids classroom with around 4-10 students.  “Sit Down Vocabulary Challenge ” allows all students to participate and is a great way to review vocabulary. There are no points awarded and as the outcome is usually random then student of all abilities will be allowed to play.

How to Play the  “Sit Down Vocabulary Challenge Game”

Step 1

Choose a set of vocabulary, such as the days of the week, the alphabet, numbers, colors, etc. If you don’t already have your own set of vocabulary, then you can download and print off any of our Free ESL Flashcard Packs to use.

English Flashcard set ESL

Step 2

Choose a “sit down word” from the set of vocabulary (we usually use the last word in the pack) and have all the students stand up.

Step 3

Starting from the 1st student, have each student say a word or letter, for example, a, b, c, d, e, f, g …. when the “sit down word” is said then that student can sit down. Continue until there is only 1 student left. That student must try to say all the words by themselves.

5. Word Search Race

  • Preparation Time:  1 minute to print copies of the word search for each student
  • Required Materials: 1 word search worksheet for each student, pencils
  • Target ESL Student Age: 5 – 100 years old
  • Number of Students: 2 or more students

esl games word search race

“Word Search Race” is an awesome way to practice asking “How do you spell ______?”. Students will also be able to improve their understanding of the alphabet, as well as learn how to spell many different words.

How to Play “Word Search Race”

Step 1

Give each student a word search worksheet. We have a variety of Ago Kids ESL free word search worksheets that can be downloaded for free. If you want to make you own, make sure to remove the word box!


Step 2

Choose a word for the students to find and have all the students ask the teacher, “How do you spell ______?”.

Step 3

The teacher must write the word on the board and say “Go!”.

Students must then find and circle the word in the search box and bring their paper to the teacher.

Points can be awarded for the fastest students.

For more advanced students, have them write down the chosen word in the available space.