5 - 20 Minutes

Culture Study (Frankenstein)

It's a powerpoint presentation on the story of Frankenstein. It's made for middle school children. Every slide has text on it. Simply read the text on a slide and then move on to the next one. The questions at the end could be skipped, used, or even changed. The slide before the last slide is supposed to be question time about the topic.

Time: It should be about 5 minutes if you go quickly. 15 minutes if you take your time and have curious students at the end.

Datesweeper (months and dates game)

Draw a 5x5 (or 4x4 or 6x6 etc.) grid on the board and fill in each square with a random date. Secretly choose one of the squares to be the "mine" but don't tell anyone (except maybe the HRT). Split the students into groups and decide the order of the groups. Have the students janken; the winner of the group chooses one of the dates and says it in English. If the square is safe, replace the date with a number indicating how far the "mine" is.

Peppa's Christmas

This activity is really simple: watch the Peppa Pig Christmas special, and get the kids to do the worksheet while they watch. It went down a treat with my 4年生 kids!!

The worksheet has typical Christmas-y events that happen throughout the episode. Students just have to label the events in chronological order.
You can pause throughout the video to ask questions and to check their understanding. You can explain cultural differences like calling Santa 'Father Christmas' and why having a snowball fight is impossible in Australia.

What's this? / Is it a ~ ? Mosiac Guessing Game

Model the dialogue with the OTE:
S1: "What's this?" (show #1)
S2: "何これ?! Oh, is it a cat?"
S1: "No, it isn't. What's this?" (show #2)
S2: "Hmm, is it a cucumber?"
S1: "No, it isn't. What's this?" (show #3)
S2: "Ah! Is it an eggplant?"
S1: "Yes, it is."

Have the students pair up along desk columns and rotate the columns to switch partners, or walk around and talk to random partners, or race in teams up and down the rows to complete the dialogue.
So many options.

Alphabet Bingo

Tired of ugly bingo cards? Want some color in your life?

Look no further! Thanks to this wonderful website you can now have beautiful, colorful lowercase alphabet cards in your life. (Uppercase alphabet file available on their website as well.)

Laminate them and use them forever!

ABC sugoroku bingo

1. Once you have explained and demonstrated the rules, have the students move their desks into groups of 4. (Lunch groups are fine too, but be sure to keep the numbers within 3-5 students per group.) 

2. Have each student take out a pencil (colored is okay!) and an eraser (or something similar to use as a game piece).

3. Give each student an ABC Bingo Card and have them write their names. 

4. Give each group an ABC Sugoroku game sheet and  a 6-sided die. 



Will you (do these activities for polite language)?

These ideas were brainstormed at SDC Jan 2017 in a lesson crowd-sourcing seminar. Many thanks to Joshua Gourdie, Matthew McClellan, Sarah Blackwell, Sara Shaw, Jian-xin Tay, and John Scanlan. 

Although the examples are for 2nd year grammar, they can be adapted for 1st and 3rd years as well. 

1. Go Fish: Instead of asking "Do you have ~" to get cards, ask "Will you~?" /"Can you ~?" / "Could you/would you~?" 

Does he/she play – Battleship

Simple Battleship worksheet, students play in pairs.


Each pair draws their three ships of various sizes (this can be demonstrated on a large copy on the board) then play battleship with their pages hidden from their partners view.

In place of 1,2,3 a,b,c students will use Does (character) (verb)?



a. Does Luffy play soccer?

b. HIT: Yes, he does.

b. MISS: No, he doesn’t.

Warm-up Routine

This is a warm-up routine that one of my 1nensei OTEs and I do every lesson. It aims to keep the most basic and pertinent knowledge in the students’ heads at the beginning of every lesson so that they’ll be primed for the lesson, and also to help them learn it off by heart. It’s fairly basic, but pretty comprehensive.


We start by asking the whole class four questions

I want him to challenge the necromancer

Just a dumb little activity for giving the kids a bit of basic practice with ‘want X to Y’.

1. ALTs introduce students to the scenario: an evil wizard has taken control of a small town on the outskirts of Kobe, and has begun construction of a deep dungeon from which he will begin a conquest of the free world. As the leader of a guild of adventurers, the students must select eight brave warriors from among their classmates to fulfil the roles needed to conquer the dungeon.

Colour Grab

Make square cards (about a little smaller than your palm) in the various colours you will teach. Each colour set will have numbers (some the same, some different) written in large font on them.

Scatter your pre-made colour number cards around the blackboard, making sure they are as evenly spaced as possible.

“Whose is it?” Pictionary

  • Go over the use of “whose” and how its questions are answered to make sure all students understand the target language point.
  • Hand out a blank sheet of paper to every student.
  • Have students draw a picture of anything they would like, but try to encourage something original and creative. Make sure students draw the picture big so that it can be clearly seen in the second part of the activity.
  • When drawing time is up, make sure all students have their names written on the back of their paper.

Pass the Message (Advanced Telephone)

Students are placed in groups with even numbers if possible. The students make a line. The student at the beginning of each line is given a card with a sentence on it. The first student tries to memorize the sentence for approximately one minute. The card is then taken away from the student. When the teacher says start, the student must pass the message to his/her classmate by whispering. The message is passed along the line until it reaches the last person at the back.

I enjoy playing board games

  1. Groups determine a playing order by janken or dice rolls.
  2. The first person draws a card from the yellow stack (transitive verb) and one from the blue stack (gerund activity).
  3. From the two cards, the student forms a sentence in the format, “I (yellow) (blue).” The blue cards can vary (i.e., playing sports, playing tennis, playing soccer).
  4. If the group agrees that it is correct, the student rolls a die and moves his or her piece the corresponding number of spaces on the board.
  5. Their turn

Which House Will Be Robbed?

Students are going to write their own word clues for the ALT to solve “Which house is going to be robbed?”

1.) Students get into groups of 4.  In larger groups it is hard for all students to participate.

2.) Pass out a “Which house will be robbed?” sheet to every group (or every student if you choose).

3.) Explain that the students will be writing five to six of their own clues to help you, the ALT, solve the mystery of which house is going to be robbed.

Black Box

  1. One student is selected to put his hands into a black box. He closes his/her eyes while the item is selected and placed in the box.
  2. The class will ask the student “(Name), what’s this?” The student sticks his hands into the box and must try and guess what it is by touch.
  3. If he knows the answer, he must answer “It’s a ~.”
  4. If he can’t guess, he answers “I don’t know” and the class reveals the answer “It’s a ~.”

What Time Is It Typhoon

  1. Place typhoon cards, an AM clock, and a PM clock on the board.
  2. Split students into 3-6 groups.
  3. Choose someone (HRT or student) to keep score.
  4. The teacher says a time, for example, “It’s 5:33 AM.”
  5. The team that raises their hands first may go up to the board and move the clock hands to the right time.
  6. If they are correct, they pick a typhoon card for their team.

Try to secretly glance at the real clock and call out that time.

Interview Janken Game

Every student starts this game with three colored strips of paper (ohajiki are ok), plus one mini flashcard (they are in the back of the textbook, or you could make your own.) The goal of the life game is to use English to get as many lives as possible, while avoiding death. 

Poker Face

A player makes a true or false statement about a card and tries to put on a “poker face” so that the other player cannot see if he is telling the truth. The object is to put all the cards down on the table.


The OTE explains:

ALT is very busy. They can’t come to class today.”

(If you have come to class for the greeting, you should now make a big show of leaving. Go outside and put on your robot props.)


“But I have a plan: I built ALTbot.”

(You enter the room. Try to be robot-y.)

I can/can’t BINGO

I used this for Hi Friends 2 Lesson 3, but it could be adapted for any “can/can’t” vocabulary.

1. First, teach the 10 activities from pg. 10 as well as “I can/can’t ~.”

2. Give each student a blank 3×3 bingo card.

3. Tell them to fill in the card with the activities. (It’s up to you whether you want them to write in romaji, katakana, Japanese, or draw pictures).

4. Before they actually fill out the card explain that you will be telling them your own (true) answers about what you can and can’t do.

Which one is different?

This is a warm up, power point exercise I use.  Create slides with four pictures.  The students need to think of what the pictures have in common, and will single out the one picture that doesn’t have it.   It is a good exercise because there are multiple answers for many of the sets.  I usually just do 3 or 4 a day and give out stamps to students with good answers.

Possible sentence  patterns are:

A, B, and C are ~ but D is not.

A, B, and C are ~ but D is a ~.

A, B, and C have ~ but D does not.

Letters and Numbers

  • Students are divided into six groups and are each given a set of 26 cards. On one side of the card is a number, and the other side is a letter of the alphabet. A=1, B=2, C=3 etc.
  • Ask students to push their desks together and spread the cards on their tables with the numbers facing up. The teacher then reads numbers, and as the numbers are read the students should flip over those cards to reveal the letters. The students must work together to make a word using all the cards which have been read out.

Guess The Picture

This is a power point game where you show a partially covered picture and ask the students  What do you think this is?  They respond I think it’s a ___.  If the students need help, there is animation that reveals more of the picture.   Students like guessing and it helps them practice I think ___.

Letter to Myself

Inspired by Angela Aki’s Tegami

After reviewing the grammar point, ask students if they were nervous in March the year before, when they were elementary school students. If/when they say no, get your OTE to tell you if they really were or not.

Explain that they are going to write a letter to themselves back then and talk about school life in junior high. Because they are writing to their past selves, they have to use the future tense.

I gave a couple of example sentences to get them started:

“What are they doing?” picture activity

  • Half the class get worksheet A, and half worksheet B.  They must not show each other!
  • Students work in A/B pairs to find out who is doing what, and fill in the missing names by asking questions.
  • E.g. A asks: “Is Mark studying?” and B answers: “No, he isn’t.”
  • B asks: “Is Emma doing homework?” and A answers: “Yes, she is.”
  • If you like you can make it a competition to see who gets all of the names first (in pairs and/or in the class).

“Which do you want?” janken worksheet

Students work in pairs and play “Scissors, Paper, Rock.”

The losing student asks, “Which do you want, ~ or ~?” naming any two pictures from the worksheet. The winning student selects which one they want, answers, “~, please,” or, “I want ~, (please),” and circles their choice.

Continue until time is up. Get students to count up how many things they “won” and award prizes/praise as you see fit.

Is there a bookcase in your room? – Speaking activity

This activity is for pages 38 and 39 of New Crown 2 (lesson 4 – Enjoy Sushi).

Attached is a handout that gets students asking each other, “Is there a ____ in your room?” Students reply based on a picture on their sheet of paper. There are two different handouts (A and B) so this activity works best by placing students in pairs.

Hand out worksheet

Is there a hotel?

Whipped this up for 2nd grade aimed at the first grammar point of Chapter 4 in New Crown 2.

It’s pretty straightforward. Designed to be used by students in pairs. They take turns to choose a hotel room (without telling their partner of course), and asking “Is there a guitar in your room?” and so on.

To add some competition students can note down how many questions they had to ask before being able to guess the correct room. After 4 rounds each, add up the score and the student who correctly guessed with the least number of questions is the winner.

Trick or Treat Game - times two!

Here are two mini games I did with my grade 1's and 3's at elementary school. Both work best with lower grades (1-4) but can be adapted for higher grades or nakayoshi classes.


Game #1 (5-10 minutes)

This on is super easy and simple, practicing numbers 1-10. Would work great for nakayoshi too as it requires no movement and can be done with any number of students.

- Prepare 6 to 10 'doors' out of construction paper. Write a number on each, and decorate if you want. Also prepare 2-3 pieces of 'candy' also out of construction paper. Attach magnets to all.

Greetings and Apologies

1.) Pass out worksheet.

2.) Go over the meanings of I’m sorry, excuse me and thank you in Japanese.  If you don’t know these yourself, make sure your OTE confirms.  There should be a few for each phrase that may or may translate differently in different cases:

I’m sorry: すみません sumimasen, ごめん (なさい) gomen (nasai), 申し訳ありません/申し訳ない moushiwake arimasen/moushiwake nai

Whose paper is this?

Students are put into groups and given the worksheet to complete. Make sure students do not write their names. When students are finished, all worksheets are handed in and shuffled. One student from each group then comes to the front and chooses a paper to read aloud. That student then has to guess whose paper it is, a correct guess earns that group a point.

Classmate Search

  • First, the students must already have been taught the key phrases, “Do you have…?” and “How many… do you have?” In this activity the students will practice using both the phrases together.
  • The ALT will pass out the worksheet and explain the activity. Using the conversation pattern on the worksheet, each student must find a classmate with a set amount of items/family members and get their signature. They must have exactly the same number to get a signature.

Coin Game

The object of the game is for the students to give away as many of their one yen coins to the other players as possible. (Nobody likes one yen coins do they? They’re fiddly, too light and hard to pick up—that’s why they want to get rid of them!). The person with the least coins at the end of 1 minute 40 seconds is the winner.

  1. The class is divided into groups of four.
  2. Each person in the group is given 10 one yen coins, and the timer set to 1 minute 40 seconds.

The rules are as follows:

Greetings Freeze Tag


Teach the initial introduction phrases. then move on to the activity.


  1. Demonstrate the activity with four students.
  2. Two students will be ‘IT’. They must tag the other students. If a student is tagged, they must freeze on the spot.
  3. A student may un-freeze if they are greeted by a free student.

A. Hello, my name is ~.

B. Hello, my name is ~. Nice to meet you.


A. Nice to meet you too.

Zombie Janken

A fun, fairly low prep game to get kids familiar with actions and verbs you’ve introduced. Can be a little chaotic, but works fine in classrooms, even with a lot of kids. Ties in with Halloween activities.

5th and 6th Grade Self Intro Lesson

Write an easy self introduction, it should be between three and five minutes. This time includes repetition of key words and important points.

Start your first lesson by telling the students that you will be doing a self introduction. Tell them that when you are done, they will put their hands up and announce what they understood. Ask the HRT to translate your instructions.

Directions Smashbox Balloon Explosion

Have teams guide a blindfolded student towards a box that has a balloon in it and spikes facing downwards (don't worry, the spikes aren't dangerous).

You need to buy two blindfolds and a ton of balloons. You also need to make an explosion box. I do this by putting thumbtacks in the top of the lid , so that they poke through and then taping them in place.

I review direction vocab with the kids first "turn right, turn left, go straight, and stop." You can also add words like "behind", but it's not really necessary.

International Country Quiz

This lesson is best used as a fun team activity. Assign the class into teams however works best, and give each team a large card that says "TRUE" on one side and "FALSE" on the other. Then simply go through the prezi linked below - read the fact, countdown from 5 or so for the students to raise their guess, and record the points on the board or paper (this works best if you can remember the correct answers).


  • Students place the cards face down on the floor/table.
  • Students turn one card over and say the name of whatever is on the card out loud.
  • Students then try to find another one of the same type.
  • If they find a pair, they can keep it and try again. If not, the next player takes a turn. For example, if the first card is an apple, the student must say “apple” and turn over another card. If the next card is also an apple, they can keep the pair.

Missing! (flashcard game)

Teacher(s) teaches new vocab with flashcards on the blackboard. Get the students into teams (4+), assigning each team a number. Write the team numbers on the backboard (for scoring purposes). Select 5 flashcard and line them up on the blackboard. Draw a chalk outline around these flashcards to help the students see which cards they need to memorize.

Demonstrate with the HRT how the game works:

The Zombie Game

The children, who should have already practiced the directions earlier in class, are paired, told to get out their caps and then clear the classroom for all available space. Each pair jankens and the winner is declared the master and the loser the servant/robot/anything submissive really. The idea is that the master will give directions to its servants via the commands while the servant does not move in any way not ordered by their master. Additionally, the servants must wear their caps, white side up, while the masters wear their caps around their necks.

Head Shoulders Knees and Toes

This classic kids song is not to be underestimated. Done correctly, it will be so fun that the entire class will be in peals of laughter. Sometimes simple is best.

I think everyone knows the song, but a quick look on youtube will refresh your memory. However you will not need a copy of the song in class, just singing the words is enough.

The first time go through it slowly with the students, getting everyone to do the actions.


This lesson is a result of discussion at Job Training 2012. Special thanks to Andrew Foley, Suen Rowe, May Wu, Antonio Vega, Charles Prete Jr.

After reviewing body parts, divide the class into 2 teams.

Draw 2 large cartoon people on the board. Try to make them around the same size. As you draw them try to review the names of all the appropriate body parts.

Shall/Will/Would Listening Warm Up

This is a warm up activity to use as review after teaching “shall/will/would.”


  • Have the students listen to the following dialogue twice with no worksheet.
  • Then hand out the worksheet with the “shall,” “will,” and “would” missing.
  • Have students fill in the blanks from memory.
  • Have students trade papers to grade.
  • Ask two students to read the dialogue and correct their answers.


Ring ring ring ring

A: Hello?

B: Hello?

A: Who is this?

Sensei is the best!

  1. Read and repeat vocabulary. Each noun should have the picture and word on the board (see attached image).
  2. Use sentence strips to demonstrate the key sentences and fill them in with the vocabulary words.  E.G. I like Arashi better than Ichiro. Have the students fill in the blanks as you speak.
  3. The last two portions of the worksheet are scripts.

Whose face is it?


Take photographs of the students in the class. Choose 10 pictures and zoom close on a part of the face (eye, ear, hair etc.) Load the photos into a Powerpoint or print out.

The first photo will be the close up, the second is the original. Repeat for rest.



Review the phrase ‘It’s X’s ~.  (It’s Tanaka’s eye)

Split the class into groups of 4, with 10 sheets of paper and a pencil per group. Draw a score chart on the board to track scores.

Make a Band!


  • Students have to make a band by finding a group of 5, all playing a different instrument.
  • Students will have a card saying one of the following: singer, drums, guitar, recorder or piano.  The example phrase to say is “I can [play the drums/sing, etc.]
  • By speaking to other students and using the example phrase, students try to find 4 others with cards different from their own to create a band. When they find a students with a different card, they say, “Join my band.”

For example:

Hand Clap Game


  • Each student is given a number.
  • Go around the circle listing the numbers and asking them to put their hand up so everyone knows their number in English.
  • Start a clapping rhythm.
  • The first student must say their number and another student’s number.
  • The second student must then repeat their number and say someone else’s number.
  • If a student cannot say their number in time to the rhythm they are out.
  • Continue around the circle until everyone has had a turn.

Sing a Rainbow

  1. Give each student a color card.
  2. During the song, students stand up and turn around when they hear their color.
  3. Students sing each color.

The lyrics to the song are:

Red and yellow and pink and green,
Purple and orange and blue.
I can sing a rainbow,
Sing a rainbow,
You can sing one too!

Listen with your eyes,
Listen with your eyes,
And sing everything you see.
You can sing a rainbow,
Sing a rainbow,
Sing along with me.



-Students MUST NOT say the answer out loud in Japanese or English

-Have all students STAND UP


1. The ALT/HRT either writes a particular word/picture on the board or shows the students a flashcard.

Do You Know How To... ?

1. First students should check any three boxes from 1-12. For checked boxes students will answer “Yes, I do.” and for unchecked boxes students will answer “No, I don’t.”

2. Next, have all students stand up and find a classmate. They should each ask each other question #1 “Do you know how to play chess?” If a student gets a “yes” answer then they should cross off one of their “lives” at the bottom of their sheets.

3. The goal is to ask different classmates all of the questions from 1-12 without dying (getting three “yes” answers).

There is, There are

This is a simple information gap style pair worksheet.

1. Have students make pairs. Give one student the A worksheet and the other student the B worksheet.

2. Students should take turns asking each other for the location of the objects (1. books, 2. apple, 3. umbrella, etc.). For example, “Is there an apple on the desk?”

3. When they get a “yes” answer they write the number for that object in the correct box.

When Sentence Match


  1. Explain to the students they will receive half of a sentence, they should read it and then find their partner who has the other half.
  2. Give each student a half sentence card.
  3. Ready go! Students stand up and search for the classmate with the missing half of their sentence.
  4. Students should check with the ALT or OTE when they think they have a match.

He/She is gesturing

1. Divide the class into 6 teams.

2. Have each team choose one member.

3. Team 1 sends up their representative who will look at the action on the card and act it out for his/her team.

4. Any member from team 1 can answer using “He/she is _____ing.”

5. Use a stopwatch to keep track of how long it takes each team to guess the correct answer. The team with the shortest time wins. Rinse, repeat.

Note: There are enough action cards for two rounds. The second round has slightly more complicated actions and sentences.

What is Kumi doing?


1. First, review the names of the characters that appear in the New Crown textbook. Then, go over the target grammar you intend to practice with the students.

2. Turn to any page in the textbook and describe an activity that a character is currently doing in one of the illustrations. (Ex: Kumi is playing basketball.) Students will look through the textbook to find the page that contains that illustration, and raise their hands when they locate it.

3. The first student to answer correctly gets a point.

Does she play basketball?

Create a ‘Guess who’ worksheet, choosing eight character or celebrities and choosing eight activities to do. Arrange the characters/celebrities along the left side of a grid, top to bottom. Next, arrange the activities along the top of the grid, left to right. Finally, in each empty box place an O or an X, making sure that the arrangement won’t give away an identity on first guess.

Make a group game

This is a really easy game to review numbers at ES. It's a great warm-up activity.

The ALT or HRT will say a number, and the students have to get into groups of that number and sit down. The fastest team wins that round.

Some variations:

Once the students have sat down they have to count how many people are in their group together.

Keyword Game: Level Up!

I have been playing the keyword game with my students for years and it was getting far too repetitive so I decided to mix it up a bit.

Students play in pairs, left-hand side students are one team, and the right-hand side students are the other team. After playing each round, I count how many winners from the left side, and how many from the right. I give one point to the team with most winners that round. It can continue for as many rounds as there are vocab to learn but I don't usually play it for that long.

I like Anpanman!

This is simply a voting activity to see which cartoon character is the most popular. This activity was an unexpected hit! The students really wanted their favorite character to win.

After teaching "What color do you like?" and "What food do you like?" this game is a fun way to finish the lesson.

Fruit Basket

This game is derived from a classic Japanese children's game of the same name. In this description of the game, animals will be used as the target vocabulary, though the game can be used equally well for colours, foods, sports, etc.

All students are assigned a different target vocabulary. For example, in this case, we have cats, elephants, lions, birds, etc. Students may have a card with their word, or remember their word.

Fly Swat Vocabulary!

This game is very similar to other games, such as karuta or bodyball, but instead the students try hitting targets on the blackboard with fly swatters.

You will need 4 fly swatters.

  1. Divide kids into 4 teams and draw up a scoreboard.
  2. Place flash cards towards the top of the board.
  3. Draw a circle (target) under each flash card.
  4. Get 4 students to come to the front of the room and give them all a fly swatter.


Draw-a-Robot Dengon Game

After teaching/reviewing body parts (and singing Head Shoulders Knees Toes a couple of times), divide the class into groups and get them to stand in rows in front of the blackboard.

Draw a body and a neck of a robot for each group. Explain that they now have to draw the rest of the robot as a group.

Stand at the back of the room and get the last student of each group to come to you.

Days of the Week Race

This activity is based very closely on an Englipedia post, but I made it a competition across all the classes in the grade.

To conduct the race, first work out an order for students. I had them sit in rows and we snaked around the class.

Start the stopwatch when the first student says Sunday (or another pre-agreed day). The next student says Monday, next Tuesday and so on, until you get through the whole class and stop the timer.

Days of the Week Word Search

Simple  yet entertaining days of the week worksheet featuring your favorite Sesame Street Muppets.  I downloaded a boring worksheet from some site(I unfortunately forgot the name of). I then used Photoshop and altered all the images to make it more interesting.


I attached the worksheet, but for some reason it is not showing up. So just right click and save image as or copy and paste into a different program like paint or photoshop.


Use this worksheet for a quick review, or introduction to the days of the week.

Carnival Throw Vocab

  1. Students line up in 2 or 3 teams in front of the blackboard. Each team has 2 or 3 balls (in case they miss on the first throw).
  2. On the count of 3 all students ask the teacher a question such as, "Where do you want to go?"
  3. The teacher replies with an answer such as, "I want to go to~" + a flashcard.
  4. The first student in each line must throw and hit the correct flashcard on the board.

Fishing for Presents (Christmas Activity)

This is a simple vocabulary activity that can be adapted to almost any lesson at elementary.

Preparation – 

  • Make fishing rods out of chopsticks, string, magnets and some sticky tape. (Be careful not to get the strings tangled together.)
  • Make small picture cards and clip a paperclip to each card. The bigger and heavier the cards are, the harder it is to pick them up.

How to play 

Greedy Pig

This is a classic elementary math game used when studying probability. I use it in lessons that introduce numbers and counting.

Students only need to know numbers 1 – 6 to play, but it is better if they know how to count to higher numbers such as 45.

To play:

Vocab Listening Practice with Paper Planes


This activity can be used with any vocabulary you have pictures for.

  1. Attach the flashcards to the blackboard with magnets.
  2. Divide the students into teams.  They likely have pre-existing "han" of 4-6 students, or you can divide them up yourself.
  3. Have one student from each group come up to a spot, with everyone the same distance away from the blackboard.
  4. Say a vocabulary word.  The goal is for the students to hit the vocabulary card with the paper plane.

Rock Paper Scissors Numbers

  1. Each student gets five small objects (ohajiki, glass beads, etc).
  2. For two minutes, they play rock paper scissors with however many students they can.
  3. The winner must ask for a glass bead from the loser.

Winner: One, please.
Loser: Here you are.
Winner: Thank you.

  1. After the game, every student must say how many glass beads they have in English.

The winner is the student with the most beads (or, occasionally to mix things up, the least beads).

Janken Island

  1. Break class into small groups. Groups of five are ideal.
  2. Give each group a piece newspaper. The students place it on the ground, unfolded.
  3. On your cue, two groups janken against one another (choose one hand-representative, but everyone must say the English).
  4. If a team loses or ties at janken, they must fold their newspaper in half. Teams must try to stay standing on their island no matter how small it gets.
  5. Repeat steps 3-4 until no one is left standing.

Jump to it!

  1. Place plastic cards of colors/shapes around the room.
  2. The teacher demonstrates how to play the game by saying, "When I say, 'Clap at red,' you go to red, and clap." and various phrases using a mixture of colors/numbers and actions.

You may also say "Clap to red," in which case the students clap on their way to something red.


*Build up to color+shape+action. For example, let the children try finding the colors first. Next, add shapes. Finally, ask them to do all three: "Eat a pizza at a blue star."

Possible actions:

Duck, Duck, Vocab!

I've only used this for colors so far, but it can be used to review any vocabulary.

In a nutshell, play Duck, Duck, Goose with the students.  But instead of using the animals, use the target vocabulary.  For instance, if you are teaching colors, choose one color to be the "goose."  (I usually do this in a big dramatic way, making Wheel-of-Fortune sound-effects until the students tell me "stop!")  Separate the "goose" from the other vocab.  In this instance, let us say that orange is the goose word.

Add 'Em Game

This game is from Genki English.

  1.  Make pairs.
  2. Each student shows a number of fingers on one hand.
  3. When you say, "Go," the two students turn to face each other.
  4. The first student to say the correct sum of fingers shown by both hands is the winner.

    For months of the year, the students have to ask in unison, "When is your birthday," and when you say, "Go!" they turn and say the corresponding month (7 fingers=July). For this version, they should only hold up 0-6 fingers.

Alphabet Race


  1. Explain to the students that each letter of the alphabet will be represented by a different number. (A = 1, B = 2, c =3, and so on.) Once students understand this, give them an example problem on the blackboard to work out.  For example: 3-1-20, once deciphered, reads as "CAT."
  2. Split the class into two or more equal teams. Each team should have the same number of students so that everyone in the classroom has a chance.


Here is a set of “UNO like” cards I made using Photoshop. I usually use them at elementary during the “How Many” chapter but have found numerous uses for them outside that lesson. UNO cards can be a bit expensive here in Japan, so please feel free to print and laminate these instead. I recommend using a backing and laminating these cards so that 1.) students cant see through them; and 2.) there are 108 cards in a deck so you won’t want to have to make a new deck every time your kids rough them up.

I want to go to 'Murica! Countries Bingo Board Game

Perhaps the only thing that kids love more than bingo and board games is a FUSION of both!

I came up with this idea because in some classes the classroom was too small for moving around in and the kids got too rowdy during exciting games. And the kids. Love. Bingo. And board games. SO. MUCH. (Not to mention that it's more about luck than skill, so even kids who aren't good at English have a chance at winning.)

Will You Janken Game

Each student begins with five tokens.

  1. Students walk around the room and pair up to janken.
  2. Each student asks a “Will you ~” question.
  3. The winner says “no,” and the loser must say “yes” and do the gesture.
  4. The loser must surrender a token to the winner.
  5. Whoever has the most tokens at the end wins.

Let's Make a Comic

A blank version of the the infamous dinosaur comics which I have added speech bubbles to to make it easier for students to write sentences.

Tell students they are to write the missing dialogue, anything is ok. For slower students allow them to work in pairs.

New Years Karuta Cards

Printable New Years themed karuta cards to teach new years vocabulary.

Introduce new vocabulary then have students play any card game. Eg. karuta, catch game, etc.

I made these cards for a nakayoshi class, but they could work as a fun little warm up game for ES or JHS to start off 3rd semester.

Classroom Objects Karuta

Printable Classroom Objects themed karuta cards to teach Classroom Objects vocabulary.

Introduce new vocabulary then have students play any card game. Eg. karuta, catch game, etc.

I made these cards for a nakayoshi class, but they could work as a fun little warm up game for ES or JHS to review Classroom Objects vocabulary.

Spring Karuta

Printable spring-themed karuta cards to teach spring vocabulary.

Introduce new vocabulary then have students play any card game. Eg. karuta, catch game, etc.

I made these cards for a nakayoshi class, but they could work as a fun little warm up game for ES or JHS to review spring vocabulary.



Make a grid. The left side of the grid will be one half of a sentence, e.g. “Let’s ~ “, “How about we ~ ” etc. The top of the grid will be the second half, “go to a movie.” The top-left square is blank.

Picture Telephone

My OTE came up with this way to practice new vocab on a whim for our class the next day. It already exists by the name of Picture Telephone I believe, but he renamed it New Word Game. We used it for JHS 3 nensei but it could easily be transferred to other grades. Picture telephone is like normal telephone, but instead of whispering the students draw pictures.

Math in English Class

  • Print out large numbers 0-9 on pieces of paper. Attach each set of numbers to a different construction paper color. Laminate if you want them to last. There should be 1 set of cards for every 10 students, so if you have 25 students, make three sets, if you have 35 students, make 4 sets.
  • Create a list of math problems using +, -, x, and /. The problems should only have each numeral used no more than once in the problem and answer. Ex. 5+6=11 does not work because the 1 is used twice, but 5+7=12 does because each number is only used once.

Connect 4

  • Divide the class down the middle into two teams.  One team will be represented by colored in circles, others with empty circles
  • Draw a grid on the board
  • ALT asks a question to the class
  • Students raise their hands
  • HRT chooses the fastest student
  • If the student is correct, he/she colors a spot on the grid.  That student can’t answer again
  • Continue asking more questions until one team has 4 (or 3)

Boy/Girl Code

  • Divide the class down the middle into two teams.
  • Write today’s code on the board (BGBGB, GGGBGB, etc.) where B=boy and G=girl.
  • The ALT asks a question to the class.
  • Students raise their hands to answer the question, but each team must follow the pattern of the code.

4 Corners


Each corner of the classroom is designated with 4 keywords: number, emotion, vocabulary word, anything basically. One student is chosen to come up and be the caller. The caller counts down (from 10, 5, whatever you decide) while the other students quickly to move to a corner of the room. After the countdown, the caller calls out one of the keywords and whichever students that are in that corner are out and must sit down. When you get down to the final 4 students, they must each choose a corner and split up to make the game have a winner.

"You Are NOT Fine!" Warm Up

  1. When the kids are standing and ready for their greetings, say good morning/good afternoon/hello to them.
  2. Once they answer good morning, ask them "how are you?" (You can add "how are you today?" in order to throw them off. Modify your expressions a bit to ensure that they can hear it though, because they tend to tune out and want to sit down asap.)
  3. The most common response you will get are probably "I'm fine[...

Team Karuta

This version of karuta puts an interesting twist on the old stand-by, usually with less crying at elementary school.

1. Have the students make groups and hand out the karuta cards.

2. Establish a rotation from group to group; clockwise usually works best.

3. Say your first karuta word.

4. The student who got the card should keep the card with them, and join the next group in the rotation. (There should be a newly vacated seat from the winner of that group who just advanced).

Balloon Volleyball Game

This is a fun, general game that can be used to learn any kind of vocab. The aim of the game is to keep the balloon in the air by hitting it like a volleyball.


  • First learn the names of the months using flashcards, chants or any other methods.
  • Next inflate a balloon or have one of the students blow it up.


In this instance, the game will use months as the vocab.

Collect 8

This is a fun game that fits a few different grammar points. For explanation purposes I will use the grammar “Do you have a …?”

1. First teach students a vocabulary set of your choice. I did this when I did a mushi-tori (bug catching) lesson, so they learned the names of lots of Japanese insects.

2. Pass out at least 4 random mini cards to each student. If they get four different bugs, they are very lucky. They shouldn’t show their cards to their friends.


  1. Split students into teams.
  2. The first student stands up and ask the second question a sentence from the key grammar point such as "Do you like ~ ?".
  3. The second students answers it and turns to the third student and ask the question again.
  4. The last student will ask the first student again who answers.
  5. The first team to complete the conversation ends.

For higher level students, students can start with 2 sentences from Talking Point, complete one round, before competing again with more sentences until they complete the dialogue.

Takes Two to Tango

It takes 2 to 単語!

  1. Divide whole class into teams, as many as you think are necessary. Ideally, 6 members or fewer per group.
  2. Have the teams choose a team name then divide the blackboard accordingly.
  3. Call out a word in Japanese or English. The students' job is to translate that word and send someone to the front to write down the translation. Different difficulty levels can be employed.

Easy mode (JHS 1): one dictionary per group

Maru Batsu Quiz

  • Using either PowerPoint, or big pre-written cards, the teacher presents students with words/sentences.
  • Students are to hold up their sign on the count of five, which has maru (○) on one side and batsu (×) on the other side.
  • The teacher then reveals the correct answer.
  • Repeat with further questions.

This can be used to quiz spelling, vocabulary or grammar points. The teacher makes sure some things are correct and somethings are incorrect.

Evolution (variation)

  1.  Arrange the flash cards on the board in a straight line. You can ask the students to rank them or decide the order yourself.
  2. Point to the first card, for example 'banana', and say that you, the teacher and everyone else is a banana. Then point to the last card, for example 'gorilla', and say that you want to be a gorilla.
  3. Greet the teacher and ask the target question using the first card.
    Eg. ""Do you like bananas?""