Vocabulary Review Game for Kids and Adults

Vocabulary Review Game for Kids

Skills: Speaking/listening
Time: 20 minutes
Level: Beginner to Advanced
Materials Required: Flip-chart or flashcards

The “captain” sits in a chair at the front of the class facing her team. The teacher stands behind the captain with vocab words on a flip-chart or a stack of flashcards. If you use flashcards, make sure they are big enough for everyone to be able to see them, even at the back of the class. The team has to give hints in English to the captain until she can guess the word. At that point, the team moves on to the next word. Each round is three minutes and you can play 3-4 rounds with different captains. I give each group one “pass” per round in case there is a word that the captain really doesn’t know.

Teaching Tips: make sure you emphasize that this game requires speaking only English. It is simply too easy for students to say the word in the first language and then the captain to say it in English and then it’s not a useful speaking activity. I warn students at the beginning of the game that if I hear a word in the first language, that round will immediately finish, even if they are only 5 seconds into it.

Also, be sure to tell your students that they cannot use action, but must only give hints by speaking. The same immediate finish rules applies for this as well.

One of the cons of this game is that the other team is sitting idly waiting while the other team is going. A way to alleviate this problem is by keeping the rounds very short so that waiting time is reduced. You can also mention that any word that a team has “passed” on could come back into play so it’s good to pay attention. You could also elicit the other team’s help to watch for any infractions such as making actions or not speaking in English.


  1. Prepare a large flip-chart of flashcards with your target vocabulary. I often use an old notebook.

  2. Put the students into teams of 4-8 students. They choose their captain for the first round.

  3. The first team sends their captain to the front of the class who sites in a chair facing their team, while the teacher stands behind them with the flashcards. Give the team 2-3 minutes to describe as many words as possible, using only English to the captain who must guess them.

  4. Continue to play until all teams have played an equal number of rounds, with different captains for each round.

  5. The team with the most points at the end of all the rounds is the winner.

Like this Activity?

It’s one of the 39 activities in my new book about ESL speaking activities for teenagers and adults coming out in the next month or so. I’m giving it away for free for those who sign-up for my email list:

Comments are closed.

Comments are closed