These are some of the games I use in first and second year elementary classes, where the children don't have a lot of vocabulary and the rules can't be very complicated. Telepathy-
Target language: Any vocabulary words, yes and no
Materials: Flashcards of the words you want to cover, one large set and one small set.
1. First, review the words you want to cover. I recommend using no more than ten words.
2. Put the large cards on the blackboard with magnets, and choose one of the small cards. Hold it so none of the students can see and say "What's this?" The students will probably shout out answers; indicate that they should raise their hands.
3. Choose one student, who says one of the vocabulary words. (You can have them say "Is it a ___?", or just say the word, depending on level.)
4. Tell them "Yes" or "No", and continue choosing students until one gets it right.To make it easier, you could mark which words have already been guessed.
5. The student who guessed right then comes to the front and chooses a card, and the process repeats. I usually have them choose boy, girl, boy, girl, so that all students get a chance.
Telepathy makes a good warm-up for a more complicated game using the same vocabulary. I usually let it go for about five minutes before moving on. Group Telepathy-
Target language: Any vocabulary words, "I like___" or "Is it a ___?"
Materials: One large set of flashcards and one small set (or more) for each group. The game works better if there is more than one set of cards per group, but can be done with only one.
1. Review the language you want to cover, and post the large cards where the students can see them.
2. Have the students form groups of three to five children- any more and it gets cumbersome.
3. The students choose a turn order- I use rock, paper, scissors to do this.
4. The first student chooses a card without showing anyone. The other students guess what it is by asking "Is it a ___?" or saying "I like ___." They can't say the same thing.
5. The student holding the card says "It's a ___." or "I like ___." if any of the students guessed right they get the card; otherwise, it is returned to the deck.
6. The second student draws a card and the process repeats. Continue playing until the cards are gone or time is up.
Group Telepathy could be played without cards, with the students thinking of a word and the other students trying to guess, but it increases the possibility of cheating. I like to use color words as the vocabulary and have the kids say "I like red", so we can practice "I like" without those pesky plurals. Money, Please!
Target language: Rock, Paper, Scissors; One dollar (euro, pound, etc.), please; Here you are; Thank you
Materials: Enough play money for each student to get three, and have some left over. (You can find good American play money here
. Some of the materials require a membership to use, but simple bills are free.)
1. Review the target language; practice the conversation several times.
2. Pass out three dollars (or whatever) to each student.
3. Students make pairs and play rock, paper, scissors. They have the following conversation:
Winner: One dollar, please.
Loser: Here you are.
Winner: Thank you.
I usually tell the students that if the winner doesn't try to speak English, the loser doesn't have to give up their money.
4. Students find a new partner and repeat. If they run out of money, they can come to the teacher and ask for more using the target conversation.
5. When the game is finished, everyone counts how much money they have. Applaud the winners, and everyone else, too.
I usually use this as the intro to shopping language, and I don't let it go for very long- five minutes at most. Often, what I'll do is put on a song, and let the kids play until the song is finished. That way there isn't much time to feel bad about running out of money, or to get too far ahead of the other kids.
Adding money to a game is a cheap but sure way of grabbing interest.
I hope these ideas are helpful to you!