These ESL classroom activities require virtually no preparation. You'll only need a ball and a few markers for all of these activities. Click on the link to see them in action on video. Most of these no prep activities emphasize speaking. Some also use TPR or speaking and writing.

Warm-up Activities/Icebreakers

1. Word Chain

Kindergarten - Adolescents.



  1. Get a ball or a soft die
  2. Have your students stand
  3. Pass the ball to a student and give them a letter ("T")
  4. That student gives you a word that begins with that letter ("Time")
  5. They pass the ball back to you
  6. Pass the ball to the next student
  7. Take the last letter from that word ("e")
  8. Pass the ball and give the next student that letter
  9. Continue

This game will work well as long as your students know at least two or so words for every letter. All you need is a ball.

A warm up activity using a ball 2. Word Association

Elementary Children - Adults

For this game to work well your students will need to know a fair amount of vocab. All you need is a ball.

Warm up activities Teacher Says 3. Teacher Says

Kindergarten - Early Elementary Children

This game will work well with very young students who already know some commands, body parts and basic vocab. You don't need anything.

Icebreakers Line up 4. Line Up

Elementary Children - Adults

This icebreaker will work well with students who have some conversational level of English and can ask and answer at least fairly basic questions. You only need to prepare three questions in your mind.

Vocabulary Games

5. Charades

All Levels.

This activity will work well with pretty much all levels. You don't need anything.


Charades is a simple ESL activity that involves miming. Action words work best.


  1. Pick a word or phrase, for example, "play basketball"
  2. Pretend to play basketball without speaking
  3. Have students guess what it is
  4. Have the guesser come forward to mime a word or a phrase

It depends on the students, but for very young children I will usually whisper the word or secretly point to a picture in the book.

ESL activity 2 students sitting in front of the classroom 6. Taboo

Elementary Children - Adults

This is fun and aside from arranging the desks you don't need anything.

ESL games for vocabulary pass the marker 7. Pass the Marker

Elementary Children - Adults

This activity will work with most levels and ages, except for the very young with little spelling ability. You only need a couple of markers.

ESL vocabulary games sprite 8. Sprite

Elementary Children - Adults

This activity will probably work well with most levels, except those with very little spelling ability.


9. Pass and Ask

Elementary Children

This Q&A activity will work well with elementary students. You just need a soft die or ball.


This is a fun and simple activity.


  • Get a ball or a soft die
  • Use questions from your ESL lesson
  • Have your students stand
  • Pass the die to a student and ask them a question
  • After they answer have them pass the die and ask another student a question
  • Continue

ESL activities sentence relay 10. Sentence Relay

Elementary Children

You just need a couple of markers.

The ESL game paper, scissors, stone 11. Paper, Scissors, Stone!

Elementary Children.

You don't need anything.


A spelling ESL activity 12. Spelling Bee

Elementary Children - Adolescent

You don't need anything.


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