Are you looking for some of the best ESL category games? Then you’re most certainly in the right place. Keep on reading for our top picks for word category games and activities, along with worksheets, lesson plans and more.
ESL Category Activities and Games
Are you ready to see some of the best word category games and activities? Then let’s get to it!
#1: The Memory Circle
One of the best category games is memory circle. The way it works is that you state a category of some kind such as animals or ESL body parts. Then, the first student has to say an animal and the next student has to say that first animal as well as add their own. The game continues as long as the students can remember the words in order.
Do you want to try out this fun categories game? You can learn more about it right here: ESL Memory Circle Game.
#2: Pictionary ESL Category Game
If you want to focus on words in a certain category, then consider playing Pictionary with your students. I’m sure you’ve played before. People have to draw a picture of a certain word or phrase and their team has to guess what it is. The team with the most points is the winner.
#3: Apples to Apples
This is a classic game that is so useful for expanding vocabulary and helping students with categories. You can either buy the game (check out the junior version), or make your own based on what you’ve been teaching. Whatever the case, it’s a fun word category game that you should certainly try out.
Does it sound like something you want to use with your students? Find out more details about it here: Apples to Apples ESL.
#4: A to Z Alphabet Category Game
One of my favourite category games is this alphabet game that can be used for just about any topic. It’s super versatile in that it can also be used for any age group and different levels of students as well. Do you want to try it out with your students? Then you’ll need to head over here to see one of my favourite teaching categories activities:
#5: Using Flashcards to Make Categories
In my opinion, flashcards are one of the most under-utilized English teaching tools out there! In this case, a fun way to teach categories is to use this simple game. Choose flashcards from various categories, for example, occupations/animals/food and drink. Then, have students put them into various categories.
Depending on the level, you may have students speak or write sentences with them. Or, you could make it into a game by making it into a race amongst various teams. Get creative because there really are a ton of options for using them in your classes.
Do you want to find out more? Then you’ll need to check this out: ESL Flashcard Activities.
- Amazon Kindle Edition
- Bolen, Jackie (Author)
- English (Publication Language)
- 88 Pages - 02/16/2020 (Publication Date)
#6: ESL Whiteboard Games
I’m not sure what it is, but it seems like most students love to write on the whiteboard. I like to take advantage of this and use them for working on categories with my students. There are a ton of things you can do, but one of my favourite things are relay races.
Do you want to find out more about these fun ESL activities? Check them out here: ESL Whiteboard Games.
#7: ESL Charades
If you’re teaching about some different categories of things, you could consider using charades as a quick review. You could either choose words all from a single category, or mix up a few different ones that you’ve been teaching lately. It really is up to you. If you do choose multiple categories, you could either allow the person acting to state the general category, or leave it unstated.
Do you want to try out this fun ESL category game with your students? You can find out all the details you need to know about it here:
#8: 20 Questions
#9: ESL Animal Activities
Animals are often one of the first “categories” that English learners learn. It’s simple for children to understand, it’s something that they’re familiar with and it’s also something kids are interested in. This makes this topic a natural fit for teaching categories.
The great thing about it is that there are a ton of animal activities and games that you can try out with your students. Here are some of my favourites:
#10: Body Parts ESL Games
Along with animals, body parts are one of the first vocabulary sets that kids learn when they’re first learning English. After all, hands or eyes are something tangible as you can touch them and everyone has them!
So, if you’re teaching about categories, you may consider using this topic. Find out some of our top recommendations here:
#11: Hot Potato
#12: Ballon Volleyball Category Game
Try out this fun activity with your students! Move the desk and chairs to make a big space in the classroom. Use some of the desks in a line down the middle to make a volleyball “court.”
Then, use a balloon and students have to take turns hitting it to the opposing side. When someone touches the balloon, they have to say a word from the category that you call out. If they can’t do this, or the balloon touches the floor, the other team gets a point. The team with the most points at the end is the winner.
#13: Pig in the Middle Category Game Idea
I’m sure you’ve played this game when you were a kid. In this case, you can play with a certain category that you name. The person in the middle tries to intercept the ball. If they can, the person throwing it goes into the middle.
However, the twist is that the person catching the ball has to say a word in a certain category within three seconds or they go into the middle.
#14: Categories Game
Fill up the board with 30 words from 10 categories (3 words/category). The first team or student has a chance to say three words and then which category they belong to. If they’re able to, you can erase the words and that team or student gets a point. Continue until all of the words are gone.
#15: Name 5 Things Category Quiz for Kids
#16: Flyswatter Word Category Game
A fun way to get students thinking about categories of English words is the Flyswatter Game. Write up a bunch of words on the board. Then, one student from each team comes to the board and takes a flyswatter.
Call out a category and the first student to slap a word in the category gets a point for their team. Continue until everyone has had a chance to play.
#17: TEFL Clothes Quiz
If you’re teaching the clothes unit, try out this fun, interactive game with your students:
#18: The Scattergories Game
- Scattergories game challenges you to come up with items fast
- You score points when you come up with items that nobody else does
- Play in teams for tons of fun
- Includes timer, die, Scattergories cards, score sheets and...
If you teach higher-level, adult students, then you may consider picking up Scattergories. It’s certainly a fun way to teach categories to English learners and this game is ideal for a party-type class.
#19: Category Chain
Start with a word from a specific category. The next student has to say a word that starts with the last letter of the previous word.
#20: Category Countdown
Set a timer and give students a category. They must list as many items from that category as possible before the time runs out.
#21: Category Spelling Bee
Choose categories and words related to those categories. Students take turns spelling words aloud.
#22: Category Telephone
Whisper a category to the first student, who then whispers an item from that category to the next student. The last student says the category and item aloud.
#23: Category Dictionary Game
Students find words related to a category in a dictionary. They write down the words and their meanings.
#24: Category Role-Play
Assign students roles related to specific categories (e.g., professions, animals). They interact in a role-play scenario using the vocabulary from their category.
What are some Category Game Topics?
Check out these category game ideas:
- Animals: Mammals, birds, reptiles, insects, sea creatures…
- Fruits: Tropical fruits, berries, citrus fruits, exotic fruits…
- Colors: Primary colors, pastel colors, shades of blue, warm colors…
- Jobs/Occupations: Doctor, teacher, chef, firefighter, artist…
- Countries: Asian countries, European countries, Spanish-speaking countries…
- Sports: Team sports, water sports, winter sports, individual sports…
- Clothing: Types of shoes, winter clothes, summer clothes, accessories…
- Transportation: Vehicles on land, air travel, sea transportation…
- Food: Breakfast foods, desserts, fast food, international cuisine…
- Hobbies: Outdoor activities, indoor hobbies, artistic hobbies…
- Body Parts: Facial features, limbs, internal organs, senses…
- School Subjects: Science subjects, humanities subjects, languages…
- Weather: Types of precipitation, natural disasters, seasons…
- Vehicles: Cars, bicycles, motorcycles, public transportation…
- Music: Musical instruments, music genres, famous musicians…
- Movies: Genres of movies, famous movie titles, movie characters…
- Household Items: Kitchen utensils, electronics, furniture, cleaning supplies…
- Books: Classic novels, children’s books, mystery novels…
- Geography: Mountain ranges, rivers, continents, landmarks…
- Emotions: Positive emotions, negative emotions, facial expressions…
- Time Periods: Historical eras, decades, centuries…
- Planets and Space: Planets, constellations, space exploration…
- Shapes: Geometric shapes, irregular shapes, 3D shapes…
- Inventions: Modern inventions, ancient inventions, technological innovations…
- Nature: Trees, flowers, types of rocks, natural formations…
ESL Category Worksheets
If you’re looking for some worksheets that can help you teach categories, then you’re in the right place! There’s no need to reinvent the wheel when there are a ton of great resources that already exist out there. Here are some of our favourites to complement your category game ideas:
Did you Like these Category Games?
- Amazon Kindle Edition
- Bolen, Jackie (Author)
- English (Publication Language)
- 57 Pages - 10/26/2015 (Publication Date)
Yes? Thought so. Then you’re going to want to check out this book over on Amazon: 39 ESL Vocabulary Activities for Teenagers and Adults. It’s the book you need if you want to help your students level up their English vocab in a big way.
The key to better English classes is a wide variety of student-centred, engaging and interesting activities and games. This book will help you do just that.
And the good news is that you can get the book in both digital and print formats. Keep a copy on the bookshelf in your office and use it as a handy reference guide when doing lesson plans. Or, consider taking the e-version with you to your favourite coffee shop on your phone or tablet for some serious lesson planning sessions. It really is that easy.
Does it sound like exactly what you might need? Then head over to Amazon, but only if you want to get yourself a serious dose of ESL teaching awesome in your life:
Have your say about these Categories Games
What’s your top pick for an ESL category activity that you like to use with your students? Is it one of the options from this list, or do you have your eye on another one? Leave a comment below and let us know what you think. We’d love to hear from you about our ESL category games list.
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Last update on 2023-09-30 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API