A ball is one of the most useful and simple materials an ESL teacher can use to make their classes more fun. A soft die is also a good tool. You can use it just like a ball, but the advantage is that it is soft and won't bounce around like a ball would. It's also easier to catch. This is good since children can get a little too excited with a ball at times.
A ball is simple and requires no prep. So it's a good tool to have on hand at all times just in case you need something to fill the time for a few minutes or so.
Here's a list of classroom games that all use a ball. You can follow the link to see the how-to video and also find a written explanation.
- Word Association is a warm-up activity that you can use with children-adults who are at an intermediate level.
- Word Chain is a warm-up activity that you can use with children-adults who are low level and at least know a few words for every letter of the alphabet.
- Pass and Ask is a conversation game for Q&A that works with children-adults. It's good for practicing Q&A repetition.
- Ball Count is a simple counting activity that can be used to practice numbers and counting. It works with children-adults.
So there are a few examples of how to use a ball in your ESL classes. Similar to "Pass and Ask" you can also walk around the classroom, toss the student the ball and ask them a question. Have them pass it back to you and then continue. If a student ever throws the ball back at you in a disrespectful way you can take them out of the activity or issue some other consequence.