Here is a fun interactive game that will engage younger learners and help with their listening skills. The Word Whack ESL Game is also a fun way to review simple vocabulary and even more complex words by encouraging them to recognize the words on the board that they hear.
Student Level: BeginnerKids
Word Whack ESL Game Preparation:
To prepare for this game, you need to find two soft objects that students can use to whack the words on the board with.
You could use a balloon or one of those plastic blow-up bats that they sell at dollar stores. If you are in Asia, you may want to check out Daiso which is a Japanese chain store which sells a lot of useful things to use in the classroom.
As for the course content, you could prepare a few vocabulary lists for the words that you plan to write on the board for the activity.
Word Whack ESL Game Guidelines:
The aim of the game is to improve students’ ability to listen for words that they hear, then “whack” or hit the words that they hear which are written on the board.
To start, write about ten of the words on the board. Fill it up with enough vocabulary so students have to scan through the different items and find the correct word after they hear it. The more words that you write on the board, the more challenging it will be.
You could use one color for all the words. However, if you want to group them into categories using different colored markers, it could help with overall comprehension.
For example, you could write all the verbs in blue, the nouns in red and other parts of speech in black. Another possibility would be to group the words into different colored themes, especially if you are reviewing nouns. Say for instance you are reviewing types of food, you could use different colors for dairy, fruit, meat, and vegetables etc.
After putting all of the vocabulary on the board, model an example for the class. Demonstrate the goal of the game. Say a word, then whack the corresponding written word that matches it on the board with the balloon. Do a few more word strikes so they get the idea of what to do.
Next, divide the class into teams. Call up one student from each team and give them their balloon whackers.
Shout out a word from the board. The first student who hits the word earns a point for their team. Call out a few more words and have them compete against each other by striking the words that they hear.
As a suggestion, if you think that some students are getting too aggressive or dominating the board too much, you can divide the board into two sections. This will give them more individual space.
When they have finished competing, declare a winner, then call up two more students to perform the same task. Repeat the game in this sequence until everyone has gotten a chance to play.
After everyone has a had a chance to whack some words, add up the points. Reward the best team with a prize.
To finish up the activity, practice reviewing some of the pronunciation of the more difficult words. Have everyone listen and repeat the words as you point to it (or whack it) on the board.
Follow-Up ESL Activities:
Lastly, as a follow-up activity, you could try a writing activity using some of the words to solidify understanding. For instance, you could try out the Comic Strips ESL Writing Activity and have them include some of the vocabulary while creating a short creative comic.
View this activity on ESL Expat’s YouTube Channel:
Related ESL Resources Online: