The first step in learning new vocabulary is listening and repeating. Before complete understanding and being able to use it, students should be able to recognize the sound of the word and be able to say it.

Here are some quick games for elementary school students to make listening and repeating a more exciting learning process.

Vocabulary practice activities

Freeze chanting

Set a freeze word from the new words. Call out the new words and everyone repeats (to a rhythm) while moving around. When you say the freeze word, everyone freezes. If you move you are out.

Best for: noun vocab sets such as colors, sports, fruit and/or vegetables, food, etc.

See the freeze chanting game for details.

Swatting game

Put the new vocabulary flash cards up on the board. One student from each team comes forward and using a fly swat, they compete to swat the correct card after you call it out.

Best for: noun vocab sets such as colors, sports, fruit and/or vegetables, food, etc.

See the swatting game page for details.

Living bingo games

Rather than cross numbers off a worksheet, students make groups and sit down when their number comes up. When everyone in the group is sitting, BINGO!

Best for: noun vocab sets such as colors, sports, fruit and/or vegetables, food, etc.

See the human bingo game page for different versions.


A game known by many names including red rover, but this version may differ from how you know it.

The game starts with one student IT. IT calls out someone to run using the new vocab. Those students who are representing that word must run from one side of the hall/playground to the other. If they get caught, they join IT and must help tag other runners. Best for: colors, animals

See the bulrush game page for details.

Blackboard memory

Line up a few cards on the board so everyone gets a glimpse, then turn them over (face down). The class must guess each card, recalling what it was as well as the English word.

Best for: colors, numbers, any noun vocab sets.

See the blackboard memory game page for details.

Hip-hop chanting

Drop a beat and make plain old chanting hip. Great for hip-hop lovers.

Best for: any new vocabulary or even dialogue

See the hip-hop chanting page for details.

Count around the circle

Make a circle. Start counting with each student saying the next number. First team to 100 wins.

Best for: numbers

See the count around the circle activity page for details.

Guess the number

Pick a number between 0 and 100 and let the students try to guess it. Make it easier by illustrating it on the board. Write 0 on the left and 100 on the right, with a big question mark in the middle. Write each guess on the left or right to show if your number is bigger or smaller.

Best for: numbers

See the guess the number game page for details.

Touch a color

Call out a color or shape and the students should run around the class trying to find that color.

Best for: colors, shapes.

See the touch a color page for details.

Make groups of ...

...THREE!!! Put on some music (or just sing "la la la") while the students move/dance around the class. Stop the music and call out a number. The kids should arrange themselves into groups of that number.

Be cautious to count the number of kids in the class so you can call out numbers that the class easily divides into. You can still do this even if the number of kids isn't easily divisible by using yourself and the class teacher (and maybe the helper) to fill in the numbers.

Best for: numbers.

Find your partner

Allocate each student a word from the new vocabulary. Yell out "GO!!". Everyone walks around trying to find someone who has been allocated the same word. When you find your partner, you sit down together.

Best for: numbers, colors, animals, sports, any noun vocabulary sets.

See the find your partner activity page for details.

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