About Language Link     Job Opportunities     Language Services     Academic Support     Teacher Training     TEFL Primer     
   TEFL Clinic 
     Link Up     
Language Link Corporate Site

 Teaching Knowledge 
 Practical Teaching 
 Teaching Advice 

Jobs in Russia

Site Search

Link Up
Remember me on this computer
  Forgot your password?

  Home > TEFL Clinic > Practical Teaching > Warmers and Fillers

Level 1 - Beginners


Name of the game

Level 1+


First get everybody doing the snap-clap. Sitting down pat your two hands on your knees, clap your hands, snap your left fingers, and snap your right fingers. You should get a snappy 1-2-3-4 rhythm going. Then give each ST a number. Everyone starts the snap-clap and the ST whose turn it is as s/he snaps his left fingers says his own number and then as s/he snaps his right fingers calls out the number of another student. The student who has been called then does the same without hesitating or losing the snap-clap rhythm (bit difficult to explain this - get someone who knows it to demonstrate it to you). VARIATION: Instead of numbers, you can use colours.

Level 1+

Complete the Word

Divide the class into two teams. One ST from each team comes forward and is given a piece of chalk. The 2 STs must face the class while you write an incomplete word on the board (twice, one for each team)

h__ __s __        h__ __s__ (answer - horse)

The 2 STs can then look at the word. The first one to run up and complete the word correctly scores 1 point for his team. Continue with other words. You can of course limit them to certain grammatical or lexical areas.

Level 1+

Word Snake

Students produce a chain of words on the board that looks like a snake.

They could then play the same game in pairs or on paper.

Level 1+

Chain Games

Around the class from person to person the STs say letters of the alphabet as quickly as possible. You can also do the same with numbers.

e.g.. ( 1, 2, 3, 4, etc. / 2, 4, 6, 8, etc. / 5,10,15, 20, etc. / 150, 200, 250, 300 etc.

Variation: Instead of following a set order round the class each ST can point to the person s/he wants next.

Level 1+

First and Last

The first ST says a word e.g. APPLE. The second ST then has to say a word beginning with the last letter of that word, e.g. EGG. And so on round the class, e.g. EGG- GUN- NUT- TABLE- EAT etc.... The same word cannot be used more than once.

VARIATION: For higher levels, give a category, e.g. clothes, adjectives, etc.... All the words must be in the same category. B has to find a word beginning with the last two letters of A's word e.g. table -lemon - only - lying. B has to find a word beginning with the same sound as the end of A's word e.g. edge-join- noisy- evil -look -catch

Level 1+


Put a number of dashes on the board (-----) representing a word, STs in teams take turns to call out letters they think may be in it. If they're correct, fill in the letter if they're wrong, draw an extra bit on their hangman. If their hanged man is completed, that team is out. (Write their wrong used letters underneath so don't forget which ones have been said) In subsequent games, the STs themselves supply the words.

Level 1+

Repeat if correct

You say a sentence. If the sentence is grammatically correct, the STs repeat it as a chorus. If it has a mistake in it, they stay silent.

Level 1+


Write up a number of letters and dashes on the board and tell the STs they all stand for countries beginning with the same letter, e.g.
G __ __ __ __ __
G __ __ __ __
G __ __ __ __ __

Give each pair to a small group of STs a different coloured chalk, if you can (if not they'll just have to sign their names next to the countries they fill in, or whatever) and tell them that anyone who recognizes a country should go up and fill it in.

The group who gets the most wins. If there are some countries they don't recognize, you can add the second, third, fourth letters etc..... until they do!

Here are some sets of countries you can use. You can repeat the game lots of times with the same group, if they like it.

Albania, Algeria, Angola, Argentina, Australia, Austria. / Bangladesh, Bahrain, Brazil, Belgium, Bermuda, Bolivia, Bulgaria, / Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Czech Republic. Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, England, Ethiopia. / Gambia, Ghana, Greece, Greenland, Guatemala. / Iceland, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Malta, Malaysia, The Maldives, Mexico, Mongolia, Morocco, Mozambique. / Nepal, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Norway. / Pakistan, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, The Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Puerto Rico. Russia, Rwanda, Romania, / Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Sudan, Sweden, Switzerland, Syria, Taiwan, Thailand, Tunisia, Turkey, Tanzania.

Level 1+

The Back to Back Clothes Game

While the music id playing, the students walk around the class, looking each other up and down. When it stops, they have to stand back to back with the nearest person and describe from memory what they're wearing.

Level 1+


STs in pairs or small groups have to decipher the anagrams. Choose a set of anagrams the class is likely to know! They can be used as a five-minute filler or a change of pace activity or maybe as a tiebreaker between teams as part of another game.

At Home
seuho        ticnkeh
orod          vetsnoleii
demrobo    hotrambo

Answers: house, door, bedroom, kitchen, television, bathroom

In the kitchen
bdourpac       ueaspnac
girtfaieroer    lwob
lpeta             krfo
etklte            fnkei

Answers: cupboard, refridgerator, plate, kettle, saucepan, bowl, fork, knife

rebe            focefe
demonale     rhesyr
neiw            rabdyn
ate              dokav

Answers: beer, lemonade, wine, tea, coffee

traake               llllbayevo
minigwsm          yechko
chatsleti            glinasi
sniten                loablot

Answers: karate, swimming, athletics, tennis,volleyball, hockey, sailing, football

Level 1+

Fizz Buzz

The STs must count in turn round the class (1, 2, 3, 4, etc....). However, the number 7 must be avoided, whether as a multiple (14, 21, 28, etc....) or as a part of a number (17, 27, 37, etc....) instead of these numbers the STs must say, " Buzz ". To complicate it further, Fizz can be added instead of 3 and its multiples, and "fizz-Buzz" for any number which involves both 3 and 7 (21, 37, etc....)

Level 1+

Memory Chain

A sentence is repeated around the class, being added to each time, and each student has to remember everything that's been said by everyone else. Here's an example:

S1: Yesterday I had an egg for breakfast.
S2: Yesterday I had an egg and a glass of milk for breakfast.
S3: Yesterday I had an egg and a glass of milk and a piece of toast for breakfast.

The vocabulary /structures used in the game can be varied according to the level, from "in my living room there's a..." level 1 to "the ideal person for this job should be efficient hard working etc...." (higher levels)

It can be done around the class or in groups of 5 people.

Level 1+ (better for Kids)


Draw a pair of eyes on the board. Ask, " What's this " The kids should tell you it's a pair of eyes. Then ask /indicate, "What's next?" They should click on and say, "nose!" Ask them " big or small nose?" " long or short nose?" "What colour?" Go along with what the majority say, (e.g. a big, long, red nose) and draw it in. Ask, " What's next?" They should tell you mouth and the same as for the nose get them to tell you adjectives for it and then draw it according to the way the majority want it. Continue until you have a complete monster.

Level 1+


Put the students into teams and select one person from each team who goes and sits with the members of the opposite team. This person is given a silent task to do, e.g. copying a short paragraph from a book, doing an arithmetical calculation sorting a number of coins, according to date, etc.... The people from the opposite team must try to prevent this ST from completing the task. This they must do by asking questions. When a question is asked the students doing the task must answer it, thus being distracted from what s/he is doing. The ST to finish first is the winner.

Variation: The ST doesn't have to answer the questions but just tries to complete the task. This they must despite the distractions.

Level 1+

Chinese Whispers I

Whisper a message (or short story, joke, etc....) to the ST at one end of the class. He then whispers it as s/he remembers it to the next ST, who does the same, and so on down the line. The last ST says what s/he thought the message was and it is compared with the original.

A good idea is to have the 2 messages going round the class simultaneously, starting at opposite- this stops people getting bored.

Level 1+

Chinese Whispers II

Seat the STs in two lines down the class opposite each other. Give the two people at the far end of the lines a request; e.g. Please draw a square on the blackboard. "Can you give me a blue pencil please (you could show them the message secretly or tell it to them outside the room, as it is important that both team members begin passing it exactly at the same time. The message is whispered from person to person down both lines and the last person to receive it must jump up and do the thing the request asks for. The first one to do it is the winner.

Level 1+

Backwards Dictation

Dictate a sentence to the STs word by word backwards and see if they can clock on to the meaning of what they've got written down.

It can also be done letter-by-letter indicating spaces, apostrophes, etc.

A letter-by-letter dictation can also be done normally (i.e. forwards) for practicing letters of the alphabet. You dictate one, and then the STs write their own sentences and indicate them to their partner.

Level 1+

Finishing Sentences

Write some unfinished sentences on the board and the STs have to finish them individually. They then compare them in groups, or as a class. Sentence beginnings can range from:

I've got ... / My mother is.../ to I would feel a lot happier if.../ If I had been born thirty years earlier ...

Level 1+


Write a minimal sentence on the board like this: "She gives him an apple"

Tell the STs that you want them to add a word where you indicate. Draw a " " between 2 words in the sentence. You could play it as a team game, giving points when a correct word is put in.

You should draw " "s everywhere, so that the STs realize where they can't put words as well as where they can. (in this case they would get a point for saying it's impossible.

Level 1+

Incorrect Sentences

Write a sentence on the board with some grammatical, spelling, punctuation or logical mistakes in it. The STs in Pairs have to try to find them. A good one is:

"There is three mistakes in this sentence. You can find them?"

(the third mistakes is that there are only two mistakes in the sentence.) Ha! Ha! Ha!

Level 1+

Sentence Hangman

This is the same as normal hangman except each dash represents one word of a sentence. Either choose a sentence similar to something they've just studied in the book; or draw a little picture to indicate more or less what's in the sentence: or provide the first letters of some or all the words; or fill in one or two words and they deduce the rest.

Example: STs have just studied the 1st conditional.

____ ____ ________ ________ ___ ________ ________ ________.

The sentence is: If it rains today s/he'll stay at home.)

Always make a note of the correct sentence before you start. STs must deduce the words you have written down. Play it like hangman, teams alternately saying a word they think is in the sentence, if it's correct you fill it in, if it's wrong you add a bit to the hanging man and note down the incorrect word underneath. You could ask teams to spell out any difficult words- if they can't spell it correctly it's counted as incorrect.

Level 1


Get STs in pairs to write the alphabet downwards on a piece of paper. Then give them a subject (verb, food, adjectives, of character, things in the classroom, jobs, etc....or leave the subject free for low levels. and they have to fill in as many words as they can You can set a time limit and see which pair got the most.

Level 1


The first ST thinks of a word and says the first letter, e.g. "s" (thinking of ship). The second ST continues with another letter, also thinking of a word e.g.. S I (SIT). The next ST continues e.g. S I L (silly) etc. This continues round the class. The idea is a word not to finish with a word you say. If a ST completes a word e.g. (S I T) s/he gets a black mark or is out. The STs must have a word in mind when they say their letter. If you or another ST is in doubt, you or they can say "challenge" to him (or ask, "what's your word?") If the ST can't come up with a correct relevant word, s/he gets a black mark or is out.

Level 1


Easy Version

Think of a 5 -letter word and draw the same number of dashes on the board. The STs call out words of 5 letters. If any of these contain a letter that is in the word you are thinking of and is in the same position write the letter on the board, over the appropriate dash.

e.g. your word is 'mouth'. A ST calls out 'teach'. You write __ __ __ __ H. Continue until the word is guessed.

More demanding Version

Write your line of dashes and the STs call out the words. When a ST calls out a word with a letter in it in the same position as your mystery word, write their world below your dashes and merely say 'one letter', but do not say which letter it is,

e.g., Your word is mouth.

__  __  __  __  __
R   A   D   I   O
T   E   A   C   H
T   E   E   T   H

Eventually the STs should give a list of words from which they can make a guess about the identity of the some of the key letters.

Level 1

Counting the Letters

Write the letters of the alphabet on the board in columns with the numbers 1 to 26 next to the letters.

A1   Divide the class into 2 teams. Call out a letter; the 1st ST to call out

B2   corresponding number correctly wins a point for his team.

C3   Then make it more difficult by rubbing out every other letter and number etc. Then make it even more difficult by rubbing out every other letter and number. Then only every 4th letter and number is left on the board, i.e. A1, E5, I9, M13 etc. (You have to remember, though!)

Level 1

How Many Words

Put a long word on the board (e.g.. washing machine) and the STs in pairs try to make as many words as possible (as, mine, etc.). Either set a time limit e.g., 4 minutes (a good way to do this is to play a song and when it finishes the STs have to stop) and see who has got the most words when the time runs out, or set up a target number of words and the first pair to reach the target is the winner.

Level 1

Spelling Bees

Stand the STs in Two rows facing each other. One row is team A, The other team B. You tell them a word that they are to spell out letter by letter, without writing anything down like this: If a ST says the wrong letter s/he gets a black mark for his team. Don't allow the STs to correct themselves, what they say first counts. It's a game of intense concentration.) Team members cannot help each other either. Encourage the STs to say 'wrong" if they hear an incorrect letter. If the word isn't completed because someone made a mistake, award the black mark and then start the word again, the person who made a mistake saying the first letter. Continue on until the word is finally completed correctly. Then go onto a different word. You can use as many words as you want.

Level 1

Miming Sentences

Give a piece of paper to each ST and tell them to write a sentence on it. The sentence can be about anything, but it might be a good idea to tell the STs not to include any proper names in it. (e.g.. Peter, John, etc.).

Now you demonstrate what they have to do with their sentences - act them out from across the room so that the person watching can write down what s/he thinks the sentence must be. Arrange the STs into 2 lines, facing each other across the class and give a blank paper to each ST to write the sentence mimed to him on- each ST mimes to the person opposite him. You may like to prepare the sentences in advance to give out instead of having the STs invent their own.

Level 1-2


Put the music on and the STs walk around the room. When it stops, you shout out some instructions and the STs have to act on them. The instructions could be for example: Form groups of 3 / say hello to as many people as possible/ ask everyone what there phone number is/ stand with someone of the same height/ stand with people with the same colour eyes as you/ ask everyone what their hobbies are/ etc....

Level 1+

Simon Says

The STs stand up as a group and you give them orders. If you preface the order with " Simon Says..." They must do it, if you don't say Simon says they must not do it. If they act incorrectly they're out.

e.g. You: Simon says jump (STs jump)

You: Simon says touch your foot (STs touch their feet)
You: OK, sit down. Now we've finished. (Anyone who sits down is out because you didn't say Simon says). A ST can take over giving the orders.

Level 1+

Guess the mime

If you have a set of cards with actions written on them or pictures of actions, it helps but if not, you can either write actions on slips of paper as you go or get STs to write them down before the game. Give a can action written on it to the first ST (You are eating spaghetti) who mimes the action. You ask by way of demonstration " Are you dancing sevillanas?' " Are you singing?" " Are you..." etc. The miming ST answers "No, I'm not," until the right verb is given. Then the STs do the same in small groups. For kids groups they can just say the verb instead of using the present continuous.

Level 1+

Group Interview

Choose one ST preferably a volunteer. All the others have to ask this ST questions, and s/he answers. A variation is that the ST is not allowed to answer truthfully to any of the questions.

Level 1+

Guess what I'm drawing

Start drawing something on the board and have the STs guess what it is. e.g.:

T: What am I drawing? ST 1: a monster, T: No, ST2: A dog, T: Yes, and what's happening? ST2: The dog is howling, T: Yes, Why, who's this? ST3: It's a man. It's the dog 's owner. He's kicking the dog. You continue, making a complete scene of the story. Then the STs can play the same game in pairs, drawing on paper.

Level 1+

I Spy

The game is played as follows:

Teacher:  I spy with my little eye, something beginning with B.
ST1:        Is it the blackboard?
T:            No, it isn't
ST2:        Is it a book?
T:            No, it isn't.
ST3:        Is it a bag?
T:            Yes, it is.

The ST. who guesses, or the team s/he represents, gets a point. Then s/he takes over.

Level 1+ (no adults)


Draw a large animal on the board. If your artistic skills aren't up to it, make it some sort of deformed monster; it'll work just as well. Now, draw lines pointing to its nose, ears, arms, feet etc.... The students have to copy the drawing and label the parts.

Level 1+

Chinese Whispers II

Write a message on a piece of paper: 57394: My heavy black bag is under the bush. I will be waiting for you just outside the doors of the Green Pig at a quarter to nine.

Show this to the first ST for 5 seconds, and then take it away. ST /s/he must then write it down as s/he remembers it and show it to the next person for 5 seconds, then take it away. And so on until the last person reads out the message s/he has written and it is compared with the original. You could have two messages going around the class at the same time, starting at opposite ends, that way more people are involved at any given moment. A useful activity for higher levels is to look at all the messages and analyze each change made. Why did a ST write a different word down? Are there grammatical changes? Why?

Level 1+

The Vertical Alphabet Game

Write the letters of the alphabet down on the board and give a category e.g.. clothes, food, adjectives. STs, in teams, take turns to send a member out to fill in , next to any of the letters , a word in that category, until as much of the alphabet as possible is filled(only one word per letter of course) The teams get a point for each correct answer.

For low kids levels you could allow any words in English they know.

Level 1+

The Shout in the Circle Game

Form the class into a standing circle and ask one of the students to stand in the middle. Ask the ST in the center to tell the others the daily routine of someone s/he knows well, e.g. "My father gets up at seven o'clock", etc..

Every time the teller uses a verb the class must shout out the verb e.g. "GETS"

If the teller says the verb incorrectly the circle must try to chorus the right form. When the first teller's turn has finished, get the circle to give them a clap - this raises the energy level.

VARIATIONS: Instead of the present simple you can use other areas of grammar e.g.. prepositions (a ST can describe his living room, for example) comparatives etc....

Instead of shouting, the circle can whisper, croak, or say the word romantically, thoughtfully, sadly, etc....

Level 1+

Twenty Questions III

One ST imagines s/he is very small, and that s/he is hiding somewhere in the classroom. The others ask a maximum of 20 yes/no questions to try to discover where the ST is 'hiding'. e.g.. ST1: Are you near the blackboard? ST2: yes ST3: Are you on the table? ST2: No ST4: Are you between the blackboard and the door? ST2: No.

The game can then be played in groups of four.

Level 1+

Stop or the Alphabet Game

Get the STs to copy down this grid or a similar one, depending on the age /level.


An alternative is:


Say a letter and the STs in pairs have to write a word for each category beginning with that letter, as quickly as they can. After one group has finished or after a time limit, stop them, go through the answers category by category, and award marks.

If a pair has a correct answer and nobody else has got anything written down at all for that category -15 points.

If a pair has a correct answer that's different from everyone else's answers -10 pts

If s pair has a correct answer that's the same as another pair's -5 pts

The game can be repeated ad nauseum with different initial letters.

Level 1+ (end of)


Demonstrate the idea. Fold a piece of in half, in half again, then in half to make eighths. Each ST does the same with his piece of paper, and guided by these folds, writes his piece of information at the top, folds the piece of info over backwards so it can't be seen, and passes the paper on, receiving a new paper on which s/he writes the next piece of information. The information the STs write on each line is as follows.

  1. (A famous man, or a male ST in the class) . . .met
  2. (A famous woman, or a female ST in the class).
  3. They met at/in (a place).
  4. He said (invent something)
  5. She said (invent something)
  6. And so they (invent a consequence)

The whole class should finish line one before anyone goes on to line two, etc., (this saves on confusion).

When the writing stage is finished, each ST takes a paper and reads out the resulting story.

Level 1+

Noughts and Crosses

The STs, in two teams, compete at noughts and crosses. One team is '0' and the other team is 'X' and they tell you alternately which squares they want their symbol to go in. Before they can put it in the square, however, they must produce a correct sentence using the word/grammatical item in the square.

Here's an example you can use; you can fill it in of course using any vocabulary or grammar items your students find difficult.


a few



a lot of

too much




Level 1+

Instant Bingo

STs draw the grid (below) in their notebooks (tell them to draw it and choose 9 numbers from 1 to 30 to put in the spaces. (If you make kids write in ink and don't allow any crossing out it should stop most of them from cheating.

Meanwhile you either a) find a 1-30 on separate pieces of paper which you already have prepared, b) hurriedly write 1-30 on lots of little bits of paper or c) write down the winning order of bingo- 2, 23, 17, 1, etc.... Then call the bingo, or get a ST to do it. It helps if you've got a prize up your sleeve to give the winner (not your watch!) This bingo can be done in ordinal /cardinal numbers too- they write 1 you call first . . .


Level 1+


Put the STs into groups of 3 to 4. One person comes out to the board and you show them word e.g. (love). They have to draw a pictorial representation of the word so that their group guesses what it is e.g.. Set a time limit (1.5 mins) for each word, after which time it is thrown open to the other groups.

Level 1+


Write questions, involving the grammatical structure or vocabulary areas you want to practice, at the top of sheets of paper, one question per sheet, and the same number of sheets as there are STs. The STs could actually write them themselves.

e.g. What would you do if you were invisible? What clothes would you wear if you going to a disco.

Or maybe: What were you doing this time last year? What were you doing two years ago? Or maybe: How often do you ride a bike? How often do you dance sevillanas? Etc...

Each ST starts off with one paper, writes down and signs his answer and then passes the paper along. The next person reads his answers corrects any mistakes s/he can find and then writes his own answer underneath. This continues until everyone has answered all the questions or until the lesson ends.

Please feel free to share your favourite teaching ideas with your colleagues...

Jobs in Russia Online since September 19, 1997

© 1997-2016 LANGUAGE LINK
e-mail: info@language.ru
+7 (495) 730-6399

Rambler's Top100