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.

ALT Family Feud

You may be aware that I recently solicited the ALT community for responses to a questionnaire in the hopes that I could use the data to build a family feud style game. Well, I did my best, but only around 11 ALTs responded to my survey. I filled in the rest of the responses by soliciting my facebook friends, and ended up with about 55 responses. I've put it all together now, so here it is...

My Super Friend

Organize students in pairs then handout ‘My Super Friend work sheet A + B’ to each pair.

Read both paragraphs to entire class once, then have each pair read their respective paragraphs to themselves.

Have students highlight or underline any points they think are important for answering the questions on the worksheet.

Next have pairs read their paragraphs to each-other and exchange information about their characters by asking the questions provided on the worksheet.


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

The Sengoku Game

Students are divided into teams, preferably six. Each team nominates a leader, and on their turn the leader comes to the blackboard.

They say the name of a Japanese prefecture, such as Hyogo. They then have thirty seconds (or a full minute for first years) to come up with a word that starts with each letter of the prefecture. For example, Hello You Orange Great October. No repeats, and the words must have at least three letters.

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.

Sentence Auction

Make a handout with 20 sentences on it. 13 sentences should be correct. 7 sentences should be incorrect in some way.

Students will work in their groups to review the 20 sentences in the handout. They are to decide A) which sentences are correct and which are incorrect, and B) the changes needed for the incorrect sentences.

Each group will receive a set amount of money to buy sentences.

Students must bid on sentences as they’re called out randomly one at a time. They are then told if the sentence is good or bad.

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.

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.


Ahh, the age old game of scrabble. Here is a full set for your printing, cutting and playing pleasure.

I made them at A4 size but I recommend printing them at B4 size. Print them, cut them out and stick magnets to them. Throw ’em in a bag.


  1. Each team/player gets 7 tiles.
  2. Teams take turns making words on the board using their tiles.
    Words must be:



  1. Draw dashes on the board corresponding to the number of letters in the target word.
  2. The students have to work out the word by guessing one letter at a time. Students can be selected however you like.
  3. For each incorrect guess a part of the hanged man is drawn, with the 10th miss causing the students to lose.

You can put the students in teams against each other or have them all against the teacher.

Scavenger Hunt

A good activity for the end of year, once all the grammar points on the syllabus have been completed.

Divide students into groups and ask them to find three separate categories of items:

People to Find—students are to ask each other questions and find a person who has had a specific experience (e.g. saw a movie last weekend).

Things to Write—students are to find information that can be found around the English room/classroom and write it down.

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:

Grade 2 Wordsearches

A wordsearch for each lesson of the previous edition of the New Crown Grade 2 textbook using the new words learned in that chapter. The wordsearches are designed to be completed as a group with points received for both finding the word and writing the Japanese translation. 

The wordsearches are best printed 4 to an A4 page and then made into a poster using the poster printer.

Sixth Grade Introductions


Spend one class completing a handout about the information students will include in their introduction.  Use grammar points they have learned the year before.  An example is:

  1. Hello, my name is (             ). 
  2. I like (     ). 
  3. I want to go to (       ). 
  4. I want to be a (        ). 
  5. Nice to meet you.


The First Class

Go Fish!


  • Review numbers 1-10 and introduce the names of face cards (Ace, Jack, Queen, King)
  • Demonstrate the key phrase “Do you have~” by interacting with the homeroom teacher.
    • Ask him/her to pick a card from the deck and show the class.

Round Robin Interview

This activity is similar to the Speed Dating activity from Summer School.


The regular activity is to be used as a 10-15 minute warm-up activity to get the students thinking and excited about English at the beginning of every class.

For 2/3-nensei at JHS and HS, you'll most likely need 30 minutes or more to initially review and check the understanding for each sentence and example options for each side. I usually start with A side and move onto B side in 3 or so weeks.


  • 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:

Back Talk

Warm Up- 5 minutes

Ask student volunteers to spell as many words as they can in English in 3 minutes (teacher writes them on the board as they are spelled)


Introduction to New Material- 10 minutes

Write each of the objective words on the board

Have students repeat

Have students translate the words into Japanese (have the OTE confirm answers)

Repeat again


Grammar Scavenger Hunt

  1. Before class, place flashcards around the room in unusual places.
  2. Split class into groups (at least two groups of 3-4 people).
  3. Give each group the first clue to one of the flashcards
  4. When the first clue has been given to each team, start the game. The teams read their clue and find their picture flashcard. They bring their flashcard to the teacher and read their clue.
  5. If it is correct, they get the next clue.



-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.

Christmas Lesson

Bye bye man warm-up (Hangman but without the hanging references).

  • Draw Christmas characters on the board (eg Santa, Rudolph, an elf, etc) beside a word or sentence blanks.
  • Have the students guess one letter at a time. If they get any wrong, rub out a part of the drawing. The idea is to not let the whole drawing be rubbed out or the students lose! (5-10mins)

Flashcards: Learn new words/Christmas vocabulary.

  • Say and repeat.

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.

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.

Was Doraemon Happy?

A simple worksheet helping the students learn the past interrogative form.

The worksheet is divided into ten questions. Each question has a statement and three possible options for a question relating to the statement. Students go through the sheet and tick the correct question.

The whole activity shouldn’t take more than ten minutes to complete and a further ten to go through.

Pokemon Typhoon Set


This is a personal adaptation of the basic typhoon game that most students will be familiar with, but with the fun and excitement of Pokemon !


  1. 6 characters: Red, Blue, Green, Brock, Misty, and Professor Oak
  2. 6 Pokemon: Squirtle, Ivysaur, Charizard, Pikachu, Electrode, and Mewtew
  3. 8 Eevee letters (A-H)
  4. 8 Baby Pokemon numbers (1-8)
  5. Pokeball/Pokemon set

Before the Lesson

Super Mario Trivia Battle

This game functions much the way Typhoon would and is an excellent review game.

Attached is a set of 40 game cards and 8 team cards.  I made my deck by sandwiching a game card and piece of colored construction paper and then applying magnets and laminating. The deck will last forever this way.

Divide the class into teams as you see fit. I usually use rows or lunch groups for the sake of simplicity. Each team then selects a mascot from the 8 team cards.

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.

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.



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.

Jeopardy Quiz Powerpoint

Attached is a blank powerpoint which can be used for self introduction quizzes or any jeopardy quiz.

It is arranged so that when you click on the points in the grid it goes directly to that quiz question. To click back to the points grid you should click the arrow in the bottom right of each question slide.  If you don’t click on the arrow and just move onto the next slide you will miss the points grid and go straight to a new question. To finish the quiz and go on to the last page you can click on the “quiz” box above the points grid.

Mario Kart

This is a game format to adapt to any grammar point with the students in groups.


Draw a racing track on the board, get each group to randomly choose a Mario Kart character. Show the items from the mystery box and briefly explain what they do.

Game play

Ask the target question, this can be a general quiz question or related to any grammar point. Each group should write their answer down and correct groups get to continue.

Blockbusters Quiz


This is a TV show quiz which can be adapted to any grammar point.  The original game works by splitting the class into two teams (white and red). The aim of the red team is to make a path vertically on the grid by answering questions correctly while the white team is trying to make a path horizontally the grid.

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.

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.

English Soccer

This game is a soccer game with two teams of 11, plus some reserves on the "bench". There can be any number of reserves on each. It takes the format of a real soccer game, with the teacher as the main referee. The ball is kicked up and down the field according to how the questions are answered by each team member. Each team member is given a number, each team member of the other team is also given a number. Everyone will have a member of the opposing team with the same number as theirs, an opponent (different colored numbers).


  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.

Easter Egg Hunt Game

This is a great game that can supplement a full Easter lesson or stand alone at the end of a lesson for a quick Easter intro. Pass out the "Easter Egg Hunt" worksheet to each student  (no longer available - make your own!). Be sure to tell the students to NOT write their names on the sheet. Go over the sentences on the worksheet and then have the students fill in the blanks. For JHS, I use the following sentences:

1. I play __________________________(sport, music instrument)

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.

Baseball-Inspired English Activity


This game can be used for all ages, any subject/grammar, and any occasion. However if there is concern, 5th grade up is very safe.

This activity can be used for any target English. It does not have to be yes or no questions as the cards above indicate. However, the subject/grammar needs to be able to be conceptualized into a 2 person exchange/conversation.

"What did you do yesterday?"

"I studied math. What did you do?"

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?""