Do you use dice in your English classes? I love using dice to create games for teaching English, as there are so many things you can do with them. You don’t even have to have two of them, one die can be enough. I love the look on the students’ faces when they are waiting to see what number they get. This tension creates a commitment to learning, as games help students to take an active role in their learning processes by creating situations where they have the chance to use the language effectively in a meaningful context. Also, playing games is fun and who doesn’t love to have fun?
Here are five different games for teaching English using dice. These have little or no preparation time. Feel free to change the rules according to the level of your students.
1) Get to know you
This activity can be used at the beginning of the school year. When you roll the die, with the number you get, you need to say that many things about yourself. It is a good idea if the teacher models this activity by doing a couple of rounds so that your students can get to know you. Then, you can divide the classroom into groups and ask them to play together. As a follow-up activity, the students can then try to find other people in the classroom that have rolled the same number with the die and given the same answer by asking questions, such as ‘I like swimming in summer. Do you like swimming, too?’
- things you like doing in summer
- things you did last week
- things you want to do next year
- things you love eating
- things you don’t like eating
- Words that describe you the best
2) Question Starters
In this game, roll the die and see which number you get. Then, you need to make a question using the question starter. Every word you add counts 1 point. For example, if you get 2, you start your sentence with ‘Does he’ and go on with something like ‘go out a lot at the weekend?’ Since you have added 7 new words, you get 7 points! If the students make a spelling or grammar mistake, then they will lose 1 point for each of them. You, as the teacher, can be the judge for this. You can either have them say the sentences or write them or both! Here is an example of the question starters:
- Is ……?
- Does he …..?
- Did you ….?
- Will she …..?
- Where did you ….?
- How will ….?
3) Word vs Grammar
For this game, you need to roll the die twice (or you can use 2 dice). The first number you get shows which vocabulary item you need to use, the second shows which tense you need to use to make your sentence. You can tell your students to use as many words as they can to get more points. Every word may count 1 point. For example, the first time you roll the die you get 4, and the next time you get 2. Your sentence ‘My grandmother retired 13 years ago, and surprisingly she moved to Italy.’
For this activity, I chose the vocabulary list from Project Explore (Oxford University Press) level 1 Unit 1.
- Go to college
- Grow up
- Have children
- Start school
- Get a job
- Use past simple tense
- Use an adverb
- Use a preposition of place
- Use future tense (will)
- Use present continuous tense
- Use a modal
4) Re-write the Story
As teachers, we all know that stories are a powerful tool for learning. You can spice your reading lessons up with a dice game. By rolling the die, you can change some bits of the story. You can divide your students into 6 different groups and each group can change the story according to the number they get. Then, you can have a classroom exhibition with these stories and everyone can read them. You can then discuss the “new” stories. How different are they?
- Change the adjectives
- Change all the subjects
- Use a different tense
- Change the setting
- Add an animal in the story (Which animal would you add?)
- Change the end
5) Exit Ticket
An exit ticket is a formative assessment technique that engages students with questions related to the lesson you are about to end. The students write their answers on a card, or any web 2.0 tool you want them to use. You can share all these answers with other classmates if you like. These questions do not necessarily need to be yes/no questions, but rather they can be questions with which everyone can generate their own answers. These can be evidence of their learning. If you want to learn more about exit tickets, you can read this blog post.
Here is an example of checking students’ understanding using the exit ticket idea. Ask your students to roll the die and answer one of the questions below prior to the lesson’s ending. The fact that there is no right or answer is great for your learners!
- things you learnt today
- things you want to learn next lesson
- words related to the last lesson you did (and make a sentence with them)
- things you want to share with a friend (about this lesson/ topic)
- things you want to do after school today
- new words that you have learnt so far this year
For more ideas on using games for teaching English, check out Using Games For Win-Win Learning.
Aysu Şimşek is a passionate advocate of continuing professional development. She has worked with young learners, and now in her role with Oxford University Press, Aysu meets and supports teachers from across Turkey. She has delivered training sessions for different types of ELT events and has written articles for various ELT blogs and magazines. Follow her on Twitter @aysusimsek_ and on Instagram @aysushares