Activities for new classes

Some good news…

After almost five months off school, children in Gaza are going back to their classes tomorrow. There’s going to be a period of revision to catch up on everything that they’ve missed during lockdown and then the regular semester will start again at the end of August.

There’ll be lots of teachers in Gaza who are working with new groups of students and will need a bank of activities to do with these groups. So I thought it would be good to have a blog post about this.

I’m only going to suggest one activity here though – please share your own ones in the comments. In fact the activity I’m suggesting isn’t even mine; it was demonstrated by long standing HUP volunteer Helen Rountree in a training session for existing HUP volunteers a while back.

Screenshot 2020-08-07 at 14.03.14
Helen demonstrating her ‘Tic Tac Toe’ activity for new groups.

It goes something like this:-

  1. Write a ‘tic tac toe’ grid on the board like the one above. The word in each square should be an answer to a personal question about the teacher (eg The Beatles – what’s your favourite band? Yellow – What’s your favourite band? etc)
  2. Ask everyone to work in pairs and discuss what they think the question could be for each answer.
  3. Divide the class into two teams – the stars and the hearts for instance. Invite them to take turns asking you questions. If the answer is on the grid they get to claim that square for their team. The first team to make a line across the grid in any direction is the winner.
  4. Now students create their own grids and play the same activity in small groups.

Note: This a good activity for the students to find out something about their new teacher (and about each other) and as a way to revise and practise simple question forms. You could say for instance that they only get the square if they ask the question accurately.

Please write a brief summary of one of your favourite activities to do with a new group in the comments below and let’s start sharing ideas…

10 thoughts on “Activities for new classes

  1. Who kills the mouse? This suspected question can create a motivation for kids to guess and say the name’s of animals or persons. We divide the class into 4 groups of 6 kids, for example, each group will say 6 words. a cat, a dog, a man, a boy…… etc


    1. Thanks for your comment Nidal. The activity sounds very intriguing but I don’t quite understand how it works. Could you explain it in a bit more detail so that people (like me) who don’t know it could try it out?


      1. I think he means that you can ask students some questions which have more than one possible answer .Divid them into groups and ask every member of the group to say a different answer .For example ,Who killed the mouse ? One can say : a cat . Another one may say a boy …etc

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I usually do these main ice-breakers:
    a. Three truths and a lie. I tell them four things about myself but one is a lie and they have to guess which one. The students then do it in pairs.
    b. Find someone who……. The students make five questions to ask as many people as possible. Eg Find someone who has a pet, find someone who has a baby sister/brother etc. The person who finds answers to all five is the winner.
    c. I show a personal photo on the whiteboard and students have to use ‘wh’ questions to find out about it. Eg Where was this photo? Who else is in the photo? Why is it special etc
    d. Students interview each other and then introduce their partner to the class.
    e. Sit down if……. The teacher says some statements and the students sit down if it applies to them. The last one standing is the winner. Sit down if you like football, sit down if you don’t like maths etc. Students can then come out and have a go.
    f. Yes/no. Students think about a favourite hobby and come out to the front of the class. The rest of the class has to guess what the hobby is by asking questions. The student at the front can only answer yes or no.
    g. Each student writes one fact about themselves on a strip of paper and these are shuffled around the class. Students have to figure out whose is who.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Nidal’s activity, which is essentially a vocabulary revision activity, reminds me that these four weeks before the semester starts properly are mainly about revising what they students have missed because of the schools being closed. So I’d like to suggest three very student centred ways of getting the students to revise the coursebook ‘English for Palestine’

    1) Put the students in groups and give each group a unit from the coursebook to be revised. Ask them to prepare exercises to test the other students. The exercises could include gap-filling exercises, translating from Arabic to English, or other types of exercises typically found in coursebooks. You may need to demonstrate with one unit yourself first. When they are ready and you have checked their work, they try out their exercises on other groups.

    2) Ask each group to prepare survey questions related to the topic of their unit. So for English for Palestine grade 7b, UNIT 10 – (Technology) the questions could be for example eg – Do you think mobile phones should be allowed in class? What’s your favourite social media site? When they are ready and you have checked their questions, they ask them to the others in the class. Finally each groups does a presentation to the rest of the class about what they found out (80% of students in this class prefer Tiktok etc)

    3) Following on from Rinan’s idea in last week’s blog post, ask each group to create a very short sketch or even just a dialogue which activates the language and/or the themes from their unit. When they are ready and you have checked their work they perform their sketches to the others.


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