Are you looking for some fun and engaging ESL animal activities, along with worksheets and lesson plans? Then you’re most certainly in the right place! Keep on reading for all the details you need to know about doing the animal unit in style.
ESL Animals Activities and Games: Top 25
Are you ready to get into the teaching animals for ESL activities? Then keep on reading for the best animal games and activities for English learners.
#1: 20 Questions
One of my favourite games to play when I teach the animal unit is 20 questions. Because the secret thing is limited to an animal, I usually make it into a “10 questions” game or it’s too easy. The way it works is that students have to answer yes/no questions to uncover which animal you’re secretly thinking of.
You can find out more about how to play this game with English learners here: 20 Questions for ESL.
#2: Animal Charades
If you want to have some serious fun teaching your students about animals, then you’ll want to consider playing animals charades. The way it works is that a student has to act out an animal and then their teammates need to guess what they’re doing.
Try it out with your students today! Charades for ESL/EFL.
#3: Animal Videos
It’s easier than ever these days for English teachers because there is a video for just about vocabulary set, topic or grammatical point on YouTube or English Central. But, you can get way more out of them if you don’t just put the video on and hit play.
There are a ton of pre and post watching activities you can do with your students. Check out some of them right here: Using Videos in the ESL Classroom.
#4: Flashcard Sentences
In my opinion, flashcards are one of the most under utilized ESL teaching tools. They are super versatile and you can do a ton of things with them. One way that they work really well is with animals. For a ton of ideas about how to use them in your classes, you’ll want to check this out:
#5: The Memory Circle Game
This circle game is one of my favourite memory games for TEFL and it’s the ultimate word category game. The way it works is that students have to stand up in a circle. The first students says an animal and then the next students repeats the first one and adds their own. And so on it goes until a student can’t remember and they have to sit down.
Find out more about this fun game for kids here: ESL Memory Circle Game.
#6: The Hot Potato Game
If you want to create some pure fun and excitement in your classes, then you’ll want to consider trying out the hot potato game. The way it works is that students pass an object of some kind around the classroom. When the timer or music stops, the person holding the object has to do something.
In this case, you may want to hold up a flashcard with an animal on it. Beginners may have to say the name of the animal, while more advanced students could say three facts about it. For example (horse):
- It has three legs
- You can find it in the wild or on farms
- Horses are many different colors
You can learn more about how to use this activity in your classes right here: ESL Hot Potato Game.
#7: Can/Can’t Game
Animals and the grammatical constructions of can and can’t are often combined in many ESL textbooks. For example:
- A horse can run fast.
- A horse can’t fly.
If you want a fun game that uses can and can’t, you’ll want to check this out. And of course, you can easily gear it towards animals.
#8: Flip-Chart Vocabulary Review
If you want to review key vocabulary terms like new animals, then you’ll definitely want to consider flip-chart. The way it works is that you write a bunch of the target vocabulary in a notebook. Then, the first team sends up a captain to the front of the class. His or her teammates describe the word to that person who has to guess what it is. The team with the most number of points at the end of the time is the winner.
Sounds like it’ll work well for your students? You can check it out here: ESL Vocabulary Review Game.
#9: Animal Trivia
I love to bring trivia into my classroom because it’s a challenging, fun activity that students seem to love. Check out some of my favourite animal themed questions right here:
#10: Would you Rather?
This is a versatile ESL speaking activity that lends itself very well to many different kinds of topic and units, including animals. In this case, students could choose between two animals and then explain why they chose the one that they did. For example,
Would you rather be a bird or a dolphin?
Do you want to find out more about this activity? You can check out the details for yourself right here: Would you Rather for ESL.
#11: Animal ESL Bingo
Bingo is a fun game that most students like to play. However, simply saying the words often doesn’t have much educational value. Instead, I make it into a serious listening challenge by describing the animals by giving hints instead of just saying the word. For example:
- It has 4 legs and lives on a farm.
- You maybe had it for breakfast—bacon!
Do you want to try out this version of Bingo? Learn more here: ESL Speaking Bingo.
#12: What Am I?
Try out this simple ESL icebreaker with animals! The way it works is that each student has a post-it note with an animal on it that they can’t see but the other students can. Then, they have to circulate around the class asking yes/no questions to find out their animal.
Sounds like your students will like it? Learn more here: What Am I ESL Game.
#13: Task-Based Language Activities
For the animal unit, you could certainly consider doing some task-based activities. They’re ideal because they allow the students to learn what they want to learn in terms of grammar and vocabulary.
In this case, you might consider having students do a research project about an animal of their choosing and then making a brochure or doing a presentation to the class.
Do you want to know more about this style of teaching? You can learn more here: Task Based Learning and Teaching.
#14: A-Z Alphabet Game
If you know that students already know a fair amount of animal vocabulary, then you may want to consider using this game as a warmer. The way it works is that students have to try to think of one animal per letter of the alphabet in a certain amount of time. Most students won’t complete the activity but the group with the most animals is the winner.
Try it out here: A-Z ESL Game.
#15: Picture Prompt
This is an easy warmer activity to introduce your students to animals. Chances are, they already know a good deal of this vocabulary and this activity can help them activate their prior knowledge.
Depending on the level of your students, you could ask them various questions:
- What animals do you see?
- What’s going on in the picture?
- What’s going to happen next?
More details here: ESL Picture Warm-Up.
#16: Animal Songs
Here’s one simple example of an animal song for kids. There are a ton more of them on YouTube.
#17: Animal Chain Spelling
A quick, easy way to review spelling of key animal vocabulary words is to play this game. The way it works is that students have to spelling out words, letter by letter until only one person remains. Find out how to play it here:
#18: ESL Animal Board Game
In real life, I love to play board games. So it makes sense that I’d use them a lot in my classes too, right? The good news is that it’s super easy to make your own for just about any topic, vocabulary set or grammar point. For animals, you could either ask some questions like the following:
- What’s your favourite animal? Why?
- Do you have any pets?
- If you could choose any pet, what would it be?
Or, give hints:
- It has 4 legs and lives on a farm
- Name 3 animals that people eat
- What’s the biggest animal?
Find out all the details you need to know here:
#19: Running Dictation Game for Teaching Animals
Just ask my students and they’ll tell you that running dictation is one of my favourite activities. It’s student-centred, covers a range of skills and is ideal for the animal unit with more advanced level students. Beginners may find it too challenging.
The way it works is that you have to find, or write a conversation about animals. Then, students have to work in pairs to dictate it. After that, they have to put the conversation in the correct order. Try it out with your students:
#20: Kindergarten Games and Activities
Little kids love learning about animals. It’s one of their favourite topics and I like to include it into my young learner English classes as much as I can. For some of the best ideas for teaching kids, you’ll want to check this out:
#21: Flashcard Game for Animals Lesson Plan
#22: Comparative and Superlative Games and Activities
Words like the tallest, biggest, and most dangerous are a natural fit for describing animals. That’s why you’ll often find animals along with comparative/superlative adjectives together in ESL textbooks.
If this is the case, consider using some of these engaging and interactive activities:
#23: Guessing Game
This is a simple warm-up activity that’s ideal for getting students talking about animals. Prepare a handout of PowerPoint slide with various animals on it.
In pairs, students have to take turns describing one of them to their partner who has to guess what it is. This also works well for things like jobs, food or drink, or famous people. Find out more about it:
If you teach more advanced level students, then you may want to consider using this challenging listening activity. Find or write a passage that contains lots of the target vocabulary. In this case, animals or words related to their abilities.
Then, put students into pairs and read out the passage at a faster than normal pace. Have students take notes and then work together to attempt to recreate what they heard. Repeat the process again and in the end, each pair can compare what they have with the original version.
Sounds fun? It is! Learn more about it:
#25: Animal Abilities ESL Game
Animals ESL Worksheets
If you want some animal ESL worksheets that you can just print and go, here are a few of our favourite resources:
ESL Animals Lesson Plan
Does the idea of a lesson plan about animals that you can just print and go seem like exactly what you might need? All your dreams can come true! Here are some of our top recommendations:
Did you Like these ESL Animal Activities?
- Amazon Kindle Edition
- Smith, Jennifer Booker (Author)
- English (Publication Language)
- 133 Pages - 03/31/2016 (Publication Date)
Yes? Thought so! Then you’re going to love this book over on Amazon: 101 ESL Activities for Kids. The key to better English classes for kids is a variety of interesting and engaging ESL games and activities and this book will help you with just that. The dozens of top-notch activities will help you make it through the entire semester in style.
You can get the book in both digital and print formats. The digital copy can be read on any device by downloading the free Kindle reading app. Take it with you to your favourite coffee shop for a serious dose of lesson planning on the go. Or, keep the physical book on the bookshelf in your office to use as a nice reference guide.
Yes, it really is that easy to have better English classes. Check out the book for yourself over on Amazon but only if you want a serious dose of ESL teaching awesome in your life:
Have your Say about these Animals ESL Activities and Games
What did you think about these animal ESL games? Did you try out some from the list, or do you have another recommendation that you’d like to share with us? Leave a comment below and let us know. We’d love to hear from you.
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Last update on 2020-11-28 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API