Leapfrog, Crisscross, and the Line Game

by Brittany DeNovellis

We made it! Midterms just finished at Thida, so that means we’re halfway through the semester.  Unfortunately, it also means that some of my go-to games in class were getting a little stale.

I did a healthy dose of internet searching and stumbled on www.genkienglish.net.  The games section was a goldmine for my tired little teacher brain.

I wish I had looked at it earlier in the semester, because it gives a really good idea of how to teach English through gestures, songs, and games – all of which I’m a big fan of.

By the way, I teach Mattayom 1s and Mattayom 2s at Thida: classes of 55 angst-y, teenage girls who are full of hormones and worried about looking cool, so definitely give these games a shot if you get any of these classes next year.  Each of my classes are divided into two teams that compete for points that roll over from class to class.

3 awesome activities I used from Genki this week:

1. The Line Game:

A great warm-up activity; also great for reviewing! I used it in conjunction with this TPR (total physical response) warm-up (first we did TPR, then we played the line game with a few review questions mixed in).

There was a lot of laughter as the students tried to be the first one to answer or do an action really quickly.  This game is great for emphasizing automatic responses to the things you want to be automatic (e.g. Hi! Good morning! Goodbye!), and forcing students to distinguish between questions like “How are you?” and “How OLD are you?”

2. Criss Cross

The basic idea of Criss Cross is that everyone stands up, and then when someone raises their hand to answer correctly, their row or column gets to sit down.  Once they figure out what’s happening, they all want to answer!

Like it says on the site, this game is closely related to another game (Last Man Standing), which is sort of a reverse Criss Cross.

3. Leap Frog

This game was a total win.  The videos from Genki show it better than I could ever explain it:

I didn’t have a fancy computer screen or flashcards; all I did was write 7 vocabulary words on the board and let them have at it.  Students were all screaming the vocabulary! So much more fun then pointing at the board and making them repeat it after me.

Other things I like about Genki English:

  • Genki has clearly written out instructions, pictures, and videos, which my other go-to site (the Idea Cookbook at Dave’s ESL Cafe) is sadly lacking.  Sometimes I feel like Dave’s ESL Cafe is a little overwhelming and not as well organized as I’d like it to be.  A tag cloud, condensing similar games, and some editing would be nice.
  • Genki has a “Random Game” button!  Hooray for random discovery of games when you’re feeling uninspired.

Have you used any of these games? How did they go? Leave your thoughts on Genki, the games, and/or Dave’s ESL Cafe in the comments!