Lesson of the Week: Best Filler Games!

icomania whosesong whosesongbomb

By Potosky, Dan Hayes, Josh Brown, Kristen O’Brien (South Korea ETAs), game templates taken from waygook.org

For those of you that have those last minute changes in your schedules, have extra awkward minutes at the end of classes, or just have an unplanned lesson, filler games are the best backups to have on hand. This post will focus on several types of filler games, utilizing both tech and no tech games. This post will also be covering games for elementary-secondary education levels!


  • Whose Song is This: This game is perfect for teaching your students possessives! I think it’s ideal for elementary 4th-6th graders. Play the song clip, and let the students write down who the song is sung by. It includes all of the latest Kpop songs (2016), and some American songs. Feel free to edit this template from waygook to insert songs that are appropriate for the country you teach in, or even make it only American pop songs!

           [Download the game + media files on the drive]

  • Kpop Bomb Game: Another great template. Good for all ages, because students just have to guess the artist for each song. Click the little play media button on the left side to play the clip.

           [Download the game + media files on the drive]

  • Icomania: This game is more appropriate for older students. I’d say 6th grade and all the way through high school. There are categories (ie. TV, movies, video games, cities, etc.) and the students have to guess/figure out which each image represents! This is really fun, and can be played for as long or as short as necessary.

          [Download here]

  • Baamboozle: A great website resource created by a waygooker. Simply pull this up whenever, and there’s a multitude of games at your fingertips with no prep necessary! Simply pick a game type and category, and you’re good to go. Good for all ages.

          [Website here]

No Tech

15-20 minute, tried-and-true no prep stand alone activities for all ages, genders and ability levels.

The 눈치 game 
Your students should know this. They start sitting down, and then students jump up and say a number. They count up consecutively until two students jump out at the same time, then those students are eliminated. You play this game until there are two people left, and whoever jumps up first wins.
My version: have students start by standing up (I call this “reverse 눈치”) and have them sit down as they say a number. No one is eliminated, rather if two people say the number at the same time they have to perform some sort of penalty. I had them tell me something that they did during their school trip last week, but you could have them practice a grammar form that you did in class, or have penalties associated with the numbers 1 – 6 and then have them roll a die.
Other adaptations: use this to practice key vocabulary pronunciation. Put vocabulary on the board and have them say one of those words as they sit down. Only one student can say one word, so when that word is said, erase it.

The categories game
Prepare many squares of paper with superlative adjectives and nouns on them. Give students white boards/blank paper in paper protectors, etc. Tell students that you will choose an adjective and a noun (e.g. “most dangerous” and “vegetable”). Students must write down their answer on their white board without talking to any other student. Students can only get points if their answer matches another classmate’s answer. This activity is better done in smaller groups. My noun and adjective sheet is attached.

Small group conversation
Choose a bunch of simple topics and write them on small pieces of paper. Break the students into groups of four and place the paper face-down on the table. Set up some kind of countdown (I use this one: http://www.online-stopwatch.com/eggtimer-countdown/) and set it to 2 minutes. Have students take turns going around the circle choosing a topic and talking about it for 2 minutes. After all four students have gone, change the time to one minute. Then change the time to thirty seconds. Then back to one minute, then back to two minutes, etc. This activity not only gets students used to speaking to each other, but it helps them practice listening, and changing the time helps them with conversational fluency. This activity is best done with a group of self-motivated students, like a club class. I can’t find the topics I used, but mine were things like “fireworks,” “the school dormitory,” “winter time” and I made sure to put the Korean next to the English so that way students knew immediately what their topic was.

Human Spot the Difference
This is a physical adaptation of the popular puzzle game. In the normal “Spot the Difference” there are two photos with a number of things altered, and the objective is to find the differences. In “Human Spot the Difference” the objective is to find the differences between a person or multiple people. Here’s how to play.
Stand in front of the class, and pick a pose. Tell Ss to study your posture and clothing for 1 minute. After 1 minute has elapsed, exit the classroom, and alter a few things-take off a shoe, put your hood on, pull up a pant leg, change your pose. Return to the classroom and ask the students “what is different?”
Depending on their level, they may say anything from “shoe before, no shoe now” to “You took off your left shoe.”
Depending on your class size, you can play “Human Spot the Difference” a few different ways. If you have a large class, call up a few students to the front of the room. Have them pose for 1 minute while the class studies them. Instruct them to go outside and alter their clothing. Encourage them to swap glasses, put shirts on inside out, and be creative. The kids really get a kick out of it!
If your class is smaller, you can tailor the game to include more students.
Alone, this activity can easily fill 10-15 minutes.

Draw it and Spell It
This is a great ice breaker game for learning people’s names. The rules are simple:
Tell Ss that they have to illustrate their name and have the rest of the class guess it. For example, if their name is John, they have to illustrate an object that begins with a “J”, an object that begins with an “O” an object that begins with an “H” etc…
Students must not only guess the letter, but also the corresponding object. For example, if a student draws a “Jar,” then students need to guess “jar” and “J.”
This activity can easily fill up 10 minutes, and the students really enjoy the silly illustrations!

In Class Scavenger Hunt
Scavenger hunts are always popular. Why not play one in your class? Depending on your class size, you can divide the class into appropriate sized teams. Set a time limit if you want. The only set rule is you must speak English during the entire time!
Here are a few objects to locate:

-A coin minted before 1990.
-A coin minted in (insert year here)
-The English word “(insert random English word here)” printed twice on the same page of an English textbook.
-5 items smaller than a basketball that start with a vowel. (e.g. Pens are not allowed, since they start with a consonant!)
-(insert number here) left shoes
-The first name of everybody in the group written on a sheet of paper backwards. So instead of writing “John” they must write “nhoJ”
-Signatures of 10 students on the same piece of paper as their classmates names written backwards
-2 colored pencils, a pen and an eraser
-A rubber band

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