Clowning Around in the ESL Classroom

Sprout English is all about having fun in the ESL classroom. In the Spotlight this month, we have a new Word Bank lesson about Sea Life and a fun Discovery Center lesson about Acrobatics. We also have a new Adverbs of Manner lesson in our Fun Grammar Lessons section that gives kids a chance to act out what they’ve learned.

These action-packed lessons inspired us to come up with even more ideas to get your students laughing and moving while they practice English. Here are 3 silly games to play along with this month’s featured Sprout English lessons.

Clown Around

Suggestion: Use this game with our Discovery Center lesson on Acrobatics.

This game is like Simon Says, except the person at the front of the room is the Class Clown. *

There are 5 things the Class Clown can say at the front of the class:

The Class Clown says, do a disappearing act!” (The other students hide or try to get as small as possible.)
“The Class Clown says, do an animal act!” (The other students have to pretend to act or sound like an animal.)
“The Class Clown says, do a balancing act!” (The other students have to balance something on their heads or stand or hop on one leg.)
“The Class Clown says, clown around!” (The other students have to make a silly face or act as silly as possible. If a student gets the clown to laugh he or she switches places with the clown.)

Lastly, the Class Clown can also say, “Clown around!” without “The Class Clown says…” (just like Simon does in Simon Says to trick people). If the students hear “clown around” without “The Class Clown says…” they have to freeze. Whoever accidentally clowns around has to sit out for a shift (and make a funny face while he/she waits to join back in the game).

The ringmaster (you, the teacher) decides what constitutes as a laugh!

*Teach your students the English expression “class clown”: the person in the class who is always telling jokes or getting people to laugh.

Dizzy Dictionary

Suggestion: Try this game with any of Sprout English’s Word Bank lessons, such as this month’s featured Sea Life lesson.

1. Create a theme-based vocabulary word list (e.g., Sea Life) that has as many words as students in your classroom. Write each word on a slip of paper (or simply print the flashcards that go with the lesson). Hand one word to each student.

2. Ask your students to write an easy definition or synonym for their word on a separate piece of paper. (Help your students with the sentence structure.) Students will hand in their definitions.

3. Mix up the definitions and hand one out to each student. Each student should now have one word and one definition (most won’t match).

4. Tell your students to stand up in a line or circle to become a Talking Dictionary! The students will read their word and definition out loud one at a time (most will be mixed up and won’t make sense).

Ella: Octopus – not a real fish, has five arms

5. After the gigglefest, give students 5–10 seconds to wildly trade definitions in an attempt to create the correct Talking Dictionary. (To keep it fun, don’t give them enough time to get it all correct during the first switch.)

6. When the 10 seconds are up, tell the students to get back in place and read the entire dictionary out loud again. Did they get it right this time? If not, give them another five seconds. Repeat until the dictionary is 100% correct.

Manner Police

Suggestion: Try this game after you use our Adverbs of Manner lesson from our Fun Grammar Lessons section.

1. Prepare two small blank slips of paper per student.

2. Ask your students to come up with as many action verbs as there are students in the classroom. You, the teacher, will write each suggested word on a slip of paper. Place these words in an envelope or pile.

Here are some examples: dance, sing, walk, jump, eat, write, wait, talk, laugh, sit down, pass, stand up, whisper, chew

3. Now challenge your students to come up with the same number of adverbs of manner. Write each adverb on a separate slip of paper and place these in a separate pile or envelope.

Here are some examples: carefully, quietly, happily, slowly, nervously, loudly, politely, blindly, nicely, sleepily, fast, well, gently, angrily, crazily, hungrily.

4. Now, hand out one verb and one adverb to every student. (Students must not show each other their words.)

5. Tell your students to stand up and form a circle or line.

6. Choose a student who is standing quietly to stand in the middle of the circle (or front of the line). This student is the Manner Police.

7. Now, tell all of the other students to act out what’s in their hands (e.g., whisper slowly / jump blindly).

8. The Manner Police must try to guess what the other students are doing.

Manner Police: Paul is skipping hungrily.
Paul: Yes!

If the Manner Police guesses correctly, the student doing the action gets to sit down. (Paul can’t lose the game.)

9. The other students continue acting out their modified verbs. Every time the Manner Police makes an incorrect guess, everyone who is still playing has to exchange one word (verb or adverb) with another player. *

Manner Police: Elena is laughing loudly.
Elena: Nope!
Teacher: Switch words!

The goal is to NOT be the last student standing. The last student standing goes to grammar jail.

* As the teacher, you can decide if you want to change who the Manner Police is during play to give other students a chance to guess. You may also want to yell Switch! after three wrong guesses.

We hope you have fun clowning around with your kids!


You may also be interested in Active Games for Young Learners.

Tara Benwell

Tara Benwell is a freelance writer and editor who specializes in materials and articles for the ELT industry. She is the media director and head writer for ESL-Library, and a contributor to its sister site Sprout English. Tara is the author of an iPad storybook series for kids called Happy Campers Books. Her debut novel, The Proper Order of Things is available on Amazon and in the iBookstore.

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