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18 Free Actions and Sports Classroom Games for ESL and Kindergarten Classrooms

All the following games and activities for kindergarten, preschool and ESL students have been tried and tested in classrooms by The Magic Crayons, who are experienced teaching professionals. If you are planning a lesson to a theme, remember to check our flash cards, crafts and songs pages too.

1. Pass Pass Action

Materials: Actions Flash Cards
One card is placed face down in front of a child and it is slid along the floor while they say "pass", count to 10 or while music plays. The card passing is stopped by the teacher and the lucky kid turns the card over to reveal one of the actions (hop, run, jump, walk, clap). The teacher then races the kid around the circle in a duck duck goose fashion, but following the action on the card EG if the card is hop they have to hop around and back to their place, if the card is clap they have to run while clapping like maniacs.
Teacher can rig it so they never win, or can beat the kid and let them go around the circle.

2. Happy Clappy

Materials: Actions Flash Cards, 1-10
To play:
Review all the FC. Put the Clap card in an easy to see place. Shuffle the 1-10 FC. Have the kids yell out, "stop". Have the kids clap the number of times on the no. FC. With patience they will get it.
Games 3/20
Once they know what's up change the clap card to something more active like "jump" or "hot". "Dance", not so much.

3. Thumper

Materials: Actions Flash Cards
Have everyone sit in a circle. Have someone stand and say an action while performing it. The person to their left performs the previous person's action and adds a new one. The next person performs the last two actions (in order) and adds a new one, and so on, and so forth. When someone messes up the chain is broken; have the class count how many in a row they were able to do, and then start again with the last person to go. The goal is to make as long a chain as possible. (be prepared to prompt kids who weren't paying close attention)

4. I Like Being A Bad Sport

Like charades using the Sports Noodle's Song dialog.. After doing the song, line the kids up at one end of the room..Pick three to four kids(Me Please!!)..Show them a secret sports card..The chosen begin to do the gesture and the Others guess the sport..Wrap it up with the Others asking "What are you doing?" The chosen reply with "I'm playing_________________..Rinse/Repeat.

5. Disco Buttons

Materials: Actions Flash Cards
Make small, fit in a child’s hand sized mini FCs, about the size of a large button. One for each child. Use of one three images eg, swim, hop, run. Distribute these randomly to the group.
Place three chairs about the classroom with a regular FC facedown upon it. Use the same three images as on the mini ones.
Play music and children dance in a circle about the room.
When the music stops the children can turn over the large FC. Then they are to sit by the chair that matches their badge. Fastest team wins.
Having the large FC face down prevents children simply standing by the matching card.

6. World Cup Champion

Materials: Actions Flash Cards
Numbers Flash Cards
Games 4/20
To Play: Review the sports cards and place 4 or 5 of the best around the room high up from clutching hands. Ask the class "Do you like SPORT" and those students who answer "Yes, I do" must sit under that card. Once all the students are sat down under 1 card only, as a class count out each group, writing the number on the number on the board. The highest numbers is the World Cup Champion and can celebrate my miming out that sport and taunting the rest of the losers.

7. Shortest Race Ever Level

Materials: Nothing
To play: Line up the boys on one side and the girls on the other. Select a starting point and a finish line for the race. Have 2 to 3 students from each team line up at the starting line. Before they race, go through the actions and commands for the unit ("on your mark!" "get ready" etc.) Winner shouts out "Champion!" to the class and gets a champion rocket jump from the teacher.
This game uses lyrics from the 'disco yeah' song.

8. Race Game

Materials: Actions Flash Cards, race and champion
To play:
Review the FCs. Divide the class into two teams and assign team names. Create a goal with tape or two chairs. Game is a simple race to the goal, either one on one or several kids from each team if big class. round one is 'run' round, at some point can augment and have a jump race and a hop race. use vocab from the 'disco yeah' song- before each pair/group of students races, have them say and do actions for "lets race", "on your mark", "get ready" and either "3, 2, 1, go!" or just "go!". announce the winner of each round as "champion" and get them to produce the vocab. this preps the students for the disco yeah song also. Variation: have the children race to sit down in chair at other end of room, rather than cross a line (can help with the running into walls issue ;-). also, if it seems like kids in class might react badly to loosing, can crown everyone who crosses finish line champion (kind of blurs meaning of the word, but at least no-one cries).

9. Countdown To Victory

Materials: Actions Flash Cards
Place 6 FCs about the room out of little hands reach.
Play some music for the children to dance about to.
Stop the CD and as hammy as you can cover your eyes. Then you count down aloud to zero with your hand still covering your eyes. Children must sit by the FC of their choice. Still with your eyes closed randomly call out an FC. The children sitting under that FC are super lucky winners.
Remove one of the FCs and repeat the game until there is only one card left. Don’t worry if the students don’t immediately get the game. Come the third round its becomes very clear to them what they should be doing, besides, everyone wins in the end.

Can be used any unit

10. The Toilet Game

Materials: Actions Flash Cards
Materials needed: action vocab f/c’s

Review action vocabulary. Designate an area of the room to be the “toilet.” Show students a flash card and have everyone perform the action together. Yell stop! Any student who continues to move is thrown into the toilet. Continue until there is a winner.

11. Fast And Slow

Materials: Actions Flash Cards
Flashcards to use: fast and slow and Nen Sho actions
Class size: whole class
Set up: To reinforce the concepts of fast and slow shuffle Nen Sho action cards and have the kids say stop. Reveal the card and say, "Jump FAST!" or "Jump S  L  O  W".  Play a few rounds. To make it more competitive, divide the class into boys and girls and award points to the team who best follows your instructions. 

12. Commando

Materials: none
Time: 3-5 minutes
Receptive Language: ‘Stand up! Sit down! Jump!’ etc
Productive Language: none

Game Explanation: A quick and dirty warm-up to get the students moving & listening to you, Commando consists of you shouting commands (& demonstrating the actions) while the students copy you. This is a good way to familiarise the students with some useful commands that you’ll probably end up employing for the entire year: stand up, sit down, jump, stop, run, walk, freeze, be quiet, etc. Be sure to make your accompanying gestures big & dramatic.

Note: As a variation (affectionately known as ‘Commando Fred’), after you’ve dispensed some commands yourself & demo’d this activity, have the students line up one side of the room & race to touch you on the other, with the first student to do so becoming the Commando & dispensing his own commands before another race to touch & so on.

13. Show You Know

Materials: alphabet cards
Time: 5-6 minutes
Receptive Language: instructions, alphabet, various
Productive Language: various
Game Explanation: Review several actions (such as hop, jump, wave, clap, etc) with the students & then show them what each word starts with (‘H’ for hop, etc). Have the students stand in a line in front of you & flash various alphabet cards at them. The first student to perform the appropriate action (jump for ‘J’, etc) for each letter scores a point.

14. Go Go Stop

Materials: none
Time: 5-8 minutes
Receptive Language: Go, stop, walk, run, jump, etc
Productive Language: as above
Game Explanation: Stand at one end of the room with your back to the students, who are ranked against the opposite wall. Call out ‘Go...go...’ & the students advance; call out ‘Stop!’ & turn around. Any students who haven’t stopped moving must return to the far wall & start again. When a student gets close enough, he or she will touch you on the back, at which point all of the students race back to their starting point. Any student that you manage to catch before they can touch the wall becomes ‘It’ the next round. Vary the commands & have the students walk, run, hop, jump, swim, crawl, dance, etc.

15. Exercise By Numbers

Materials: Actions Flash Cards
Materials: #1-5 flashcards
Time: 5 minutes
Receptive Language: instructions
Productive Language: numbers, jump, clap, stomp, etc
Game Explanation: Demonstrate various simple actions such as jump, stomp, clap, turn around, etc. Shuffle the number cards & get a student to pick & identify one. Lead the class in performing that many repetitions of whatever gesture you like (‘Five jumps! ready...go!’). Continue, letting the students decide what gesture/action to perform if you like.

16. Grandmas Steps

Materials: Actions Flash Cards
Review cards. Line up children along one wall of the classroom. Stand on the other side with the flashcards. Do "shuffle, shuffle" then get kids to call out "stop!". Reveal the action card and get kids to move towards you using that action. Be creative and invent actions for football and basketball etc for Cho's. Call out "stop!" and get the kids to freeze. Any kid who doesn't freeze has to go back and try again from the starting wall. Kids who manage to touch the wall you are standing next to (the goal wall) are champion. Works best in a big room, such as the hall, or brilliant outside (if anyone else
teaches outside!).

17. Action Goose

Materials needed: Actions Flash Cards

A variation of duck duck goose. The kids call out the different kind of sport f/c's. Ex: Rugby, Rugby, Rugby.......Basketball!!!!! The difference is that before they begin, show them the run, hop, or walk f/c. They can't run every time. They have to do the right action.

18. Action Stop Game

Materials needed: Actions Flash Cards

Review cards. Divide the class into a boys team and a girls team. Stand on one side of the room and have one of the teams stand on the other side. The other team sits and watches. Hold one of the action cards behind your back so when you face away from the children they can see the card.

When they see the card they are allowed to advance towards you using that action. E.g. if you show the jump card they have to jump towards you. When you turn to face them they have to stop. Any child who doesn't stop has to go back to the other side and start again. The round is over when one of the children touches the cards on your back. Play with the girls and boys teams a few times and change the action card each round.

Amazon Resources for these Actions Games

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18 Free Actions and Sports Games for ESL Classrooms

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