ESL Music Games

Let's Dance

ESL Music Activity - Reading, Listening and Speaking - Elementary - 20 minutes

Here is a lighthearted musical activity that helps to promote creativity. Before you begin, review parts of the body and action verbs with the students. Next, create a large space in the classroom and have the students stand in the space. Give the students some basic instructions and have them follow along, e.g. 'Put your hands on your knees.' 'Put your hands on your head.' 'Shake your right leg,' etc. You could even play a game of 'Simon says' to practice the language. Then, tell the students that they are going to create a new dance routine. Play a popular dance song in the background and suggest the first set of actions, e.g. 'Wave your hands in the air.' 'Put your hands on your hips.' Write the sentences on the board and have the students do the actions. Next, divide the students into pairs and ask them to decide what actions they think should come next. Then, choose pairs of students to suggest the next dance moves. As each new set of movements is suggested, write them on the board. As you write the dance moves on the board, ask the students to read them and do the actions. When you have a long list of dance moves, play the music again and practice the dance routine as a class. Finally, have the pairs practice alone and then come up one by one and do the dance routine in front of the class. Award points for each performance or have the class vote for the best pair of dancers.

Musical Flashcards

ESL Music Game - Listening and Speaking Activity - Young Learners - 15 minutes

This fun ESL music game is similar to 'Musical Chairs'. It's ideal for practicing or reviewing vocabulary with young learners. Spread out a set of flashcards in a circle on the floor. You should have one flashcard less than the number of students in the class. Play some music and have the students walk around the flashcards in a circle. Stop the music and have the students race to stand on a flashcard and shout out the word related to the picture on the card. If a student says the wrong word, the person without a flashcard has a chance to steal the card from the student by giving the correct answer. The student without a flashcard is out of the game. Take away another flashcard and play again. The last student left in the game is the winner. When playing this game, make sure none of the students are wearing shoes and that your flashcards are suitably covered.

Musical Madness

ESL Music Game - Listening Activity - Young Learners - 15 minutes

Here is an amusing ESL game that combines music with learning parts of the body. Divide the students into pairs (A and B). Ask the A students to stand in a close circle and hold hands. Ask the B students to make another circle surrounding the first circle and to also hold hands. Tell the students in the inner circle to move around clockwise when they hear music and the outer circle to move around anti-clockwise. Explain that when the music stops, you are going to call out two parts of the body. The students' task is to then find their partner as quickly as possible and touch each other using the two parts of the body called out. Let the music play for a while and then stop the music at an appropriate point. You then call out two parts of the body, e.g. elbow to hand. Students race to find their partner and put one elbow to their partner's hand. The last pair of students to find each other and get into position is out of the game. The students then get back into the two circles and the music starts again. The last pair of students left win the game.

Word Grab

ESL Music Game - Listening and Matching Activity - Elementary and Above - 20 minutes

Here is a lively ESL music game to play with your students. Prepare a popular song that your students would like. Choose 15 words from the song. Write the words down on separate pieces of paper and stick them to the board in a random order. You can also make the game more difficult by putting decoy words that sound similar up on the board. Next, divide the class into two teams. Have each team stand in a line in front of the board. Play the song. When the students at the front hear a word from the song that is on the board, they race each other to grab the word. The first student to grab a correct word wins and keeps the word. The students at the front then go to the back of the line and it's the next two students turn to play. Repeat the song as necessary until all the words have been grabbed. The team with the most words at the end of the game wins.

Word Snake

ESL Music Game - Writing and Spelling Activity - Elementary - 15 minutes

This is a simple ESL music game to help students practice or review categories of words. Have the students stand in a circle. Give the students a category, e.g. animals. Play some music and have the students pass the ball to each other. When the music stops, whoever is holding the ball has to write a word from the category on the board. Then, start the music again. The next student holding the ball when the music stops has to use the last letter of the word on the board to make another word belonging to that category, e.g. 'If a student wrote 'elephant', the next student would use the 't' as the first letter of the new word.' If a student is unable to make a word, they are out of the game. The last student left in the game wins. Play several rounds, changing the category each time.

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