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11 Free 5 Minute Anytime 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.

Teaching Tips

So you’ve planned a killer lesson, the game worked with your nen-cho class yesterday, but today it falls flat or the class race through it in half the allocated time. It’s the end of your lesson, but you’ve still got five minutes to go. What can you do?

Essentially, when planning your lesson you should always include a back-up game/song/activity in case your lesson runs short or your game doesn’t work.
Alternatively you could have a bank of game ideas that you can use as time fillers that you can use in the last five minutes. Sometimes known as your “bag of tricks”. It is helpful to have a dice or ball in your bag so you can play different games, but the games on this list need no materials except the flashcards you have used in the lesson.

Time filler activities need little or no materials, should involve all the kids, don’t require you to form teams and should require little explanation.

1. Sensei Guess Game

Using the flash cards from the lesson, have the kids sitting in front of you, select a card, show the class but explain that it’s a secret from the teacher. try and guess the card in 3 or less attempts and score a point for the teacher. If you don’t guess the card, the kids get a point.

2. Telepathy

Like sensei guess game, but in reverse. Keep the flash card secret from the kids. Hold it over your head. The kids have to guess what card you are holding using their telepathic powers.

3. Red Light/Green Light

Line the kids up against one wall. Call out green light and turn your back on the kids. Call out Red Light, then turn around. The kids must freeze. Any kid who moves is out. The first kid to reach you then becomes teacher and can call out red light/green light.

4. Scary Circle Pass Game / Bomb Game

Have the kids sit in a circle, pass around five or six flashcards face down. Nominate one card as the scary/bomb card. Stop the music, whoever is holding the bomb/scary card is out.

5. Pictionary

You will get the kids interest just by drawing on the board. Draw one of the flashcard vocab on the board and see if the kids can guess.

6. Rock Scissors Paper Teacher vs Class

Have all the kids stand up. Play janken. Get the kids to all chorus “rock, scissors, paper”.
Whoever loses must sit down. If the kids win or tie they remain standing. Continue until you have a winner.

7. Touch and Point

Call out colours or classroom objects and have the kids run and touch.

8. Flashcard Review

Shuffle the cards, slowly reveal one card. Hand the card to whoever identifies it correctly using the “here you are”, “thank you” “you’re welcome” phrase. Then ask for the cards back and try to get the kids to use the same phrase.

9. Flash Game

Have 3- 5 students at the front and give them each a f/c. Have them quickly flash the card to the class. Ask the kids to line up in front of the kid who is holding the card that you nominate.

10. Commando

A quick game that is easy to play. Simply call out instructions i.e. jump; run; stand-up; sit down. etc.

11. Line Jump Game

Have the kids line up in front of you. Hold two flashcards one in each hand. Jump left and call out the card. Jump right and call out the second card. Alternate the cards until you get into a jumping rhythm, then hold up one flashcard but call out the other flashcard. If the kids jump to the incorrect card have them sit down.

Final point...

Don’t overkill these games, (as with any game), variety will keep the kids interested and keep them wanting more!

365 FREE Games

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5 Minute anytime games (11)
Actions and Sports (18)
Alphabet (25)
Animals (22)
Any unit (38)
Body Parts (9)
Christmas and New Year (17)
Classics (11)
Classroom Objects (3)
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Colors (6)
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Directions (3)
Easter (10)
Emotions (4)
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Inside, Outside, Playground (6)
Large Classes (6)
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