ESL Music Games

Let's Dance

Age/Level: Young learners     Time: 20 minutes     Players: Pairs     Preparation: A popular dance song

Aim: To practice parts of the body and action verbs

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.


Parts of the body: arms, ears, knees, feet, nose, head, etc

Action verbs: walk, jump, wiggle, shake, clap, spin, run, kick, point, tap, etc.

Create a large space in the classroom.

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.

Next, divide the students into pairs.

Tell the students that they are going to create a new dance routine.

Play your chosen 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 get the students to do the actions.

Give the students a few seconds to talk with their partner about what actions could come next.

Then choose a pair of students to suggest the next dance move.

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 or have the class vote for the best pair of dancers.

Let's Dance.PDF


Musical Flashcards

Age/Level: Young learners     Time: 15 minutes     Players: Individual     Preparation: A set of flashcards and some music

Aim: To say the word on a flashcard

This ESL music game is similar to 'Musical Chairs'. It's ideal for teaching or reviewing vocabulary with young learners.


Spread out the set of flashcards in a circle on the floor.

You should have one flashcard less than the number of students in your class.

Tell the students that they must walk around the flashcards when they hear the music.

When the music stops, they have to stand on a flashcard and shout out the word, according to the picture on the card.

If a student fails to say the correct word, the student without a flashcard has a chance to steal the card from the student by giving the correct word.

The student without a flashcard is out of the game.

Take away another flashcard and play again.

The last student left is the winner.

Obviously, when playing this game make sure none of the students are wearing shoes and that your flashcards are suitably covered.

Musical Flashcards.PDF


Musical Madness

Age/Level: Young learners     Time: 15 minutes     Players: Pairs      Preparation: Music

Aim: To practice or review parts of the body

Here is a highly amusing ESL game that combines music with learning parts of the body.


Have each student in the class choose a partner (A and B).

Ask the A students to stand in a circle and hold hands.

Tell the B students to make a circle surrounding the first circle and hold hands.

Tell the students that when they hear some music, the inner circle will move around clockwise and the outer circle will move around anti-clockwise.

Explain to the students that when the music stops, they must find their partner as quickly as possible and touch each other using different parts of the body.

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. The music starts again and so on.

The last pair of students left is the winner.

Musical Madness.PDF


Word Grab

Age/Level: Elementary and above     Time: 20 minutes     Players: 2 teams     Preparation: 15 words from a song written down on pieces of paper

Aim: To listen for words in a song

This is a fun and lively ESL music game to play with your students.


Choose a popular song that your students would like.

Pick 15 words from the song and write them down on separate pieces of paper.

Then, stick each word to the board.

Divide the class into two teams.

Have each team stand in a line in front of the board.

Next, play the song.

When the student at the front of each line hears a word from the song that is on the board, they race each other to grab the word.

Teams win one point for each correct word they grab.

Once students have played, they go to the back of the line and the next two students at the front of the line play.

The team with the most words wins.

You may have to play the song two or three times until all the words have been grabbed.

You can make this game more difficult by putting decoy words up on the board.

Word Grab.PDF


Word Snake

Age/Level: Young learners     Time: 10 minutes     Players: Individual     Preparation: Music and a ball

Aim: To write words beginning with a certain letter

This is a very simple music game to play with young learners. For this game, you will need a ball.


Have all the students stand up in a circle.

Play some music and have the students pass the ball to each other until the music stops.

When the music stops, whoever is holding the ball has to write a word in English on the board. You can have the students write any word or you could tell the students what types of words they must write, e.g. verbs, adjectives, animals, etc.

Then, start the music again.

The next student, who is holding the ball when the music stops, has to use the last letter of the word on the board to make another word.

Word Snake.PDF


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