3 ways to use sheet protectors for easy reusable ESL activities

0002903_penandpaper_separator_sheet_a4_pack_of_100_sheetsI’m sure you have used sheet protectors tons of times to put away activities, organize essays, file attendance sheets, and much more. But here’s another way to use them that will allow you to reuse your activities in class so we can save some paper. So, a few considerations first:

  • To use sheet protectors for any of the following activities you should have erasable markers available for your students. They will be writing on the sheet protectors to do the activity and once they are done all you have to do is erase. Voila! They are ready to be used in another class.
  • Be sure to make the blanks or spaces big enough to write with erasable markers.
  • Depending on the game you should have various colored erasable markers available for the students.
  • Identify your games and worksheets clearly so that they are easy to find and use. Sometimes marking them will save you time when handing them out. Identify things like: winning cards, difficulty level (for mixed level groups), quantity to keep track of them and to make sure you get them all back or target language.

Let’s go over some fun games you can use in class  and how we can use sheet protectors to reuse them.

Jogo_da_velha_-_tic_tac_toe1. Tic-Tac-Toe (or Noughts and Crosses)

For ESL classes Tic-Tac-Toe is a great game to play, especially for basic levels, because it reduces the time you take to explain instructions. This is valuable time and if we choose well-known games this will also allow us to focus on the task at hand and to give the student a sense of confidence. For this game you can either make teams or pairs, where each one will select their mark “X” or “O”. Here is the way I’ve used it and some variations:

  • OPTION 1: Generate tasks for your students such as using a the target language in a sentence. If the task is performed correctly your student is allowed to put the “X” or “O” where ever they want, following the normal rules of Tic-Tac-Toe. The winner will be the student who not only performs the most correct tasks, but the one who wins based on the traditional rules.
  • OPTION 2: Place the target language in the boxes of the Tic-Tac-Toe and have your student choose where they want to place their mark. If they use the target language completing the assigned task correctly they are allowed to put their mark, if not it is the next student’s turn. Once again the same rules apply to win.
  • OPTION 3: Place instructions that the students must follow like: “Speak for one minute about…”, “Name 5 irregular verbs”, or “Introduce yourself to your classmates.”. Again if the student completes the task correctly, they can make their mark, if not then the game continues until one of the teams or students has won.


2. Bingo:

Even traditional Bingo can work if you want to review letters and numbers. But here are some variations:

  • Create Bingo Cards with the target language for your lesson and be sure to create flashcards with the same vocabulary, so you can pull them out of a bag or mark them off. The same rules apply as in traditional Bingo, but since there are so many variations be sure to set clear rules as to how you can win.
  • Musical Bingo. I explained in detail this activity in a previous post. To read more about it click here.

Battleship3. Battleship:

In other countries not everyone might be familiar with the rules of this game so here are the original Hasbro rules. If you are not sure how to play go over those first and then come back so we can explore how to use it in the ESL Classroom. Although the traditional version, similar to Bingo, can be used to review letters and numbers, here are some of my variations:

  • Practice homonyms by placing the homonyms on opposite ends of the board, so that they replace the letters and numbers. The students should create a sentence with both words to “attack” their opponent. The student receiving the “attack” should recognize the correct word based on context. This is a great game to get your students to understand the subtle differences in using words in context. Remember they should complete the task correctly to be able to make their move.
  • By placing nouns instead of letters or numbers, you can have students compare them in a sentence. This way they can practice comparatives. If done correctly their attack will be valid, if not then it’s the next student’s turn.

Finally, here’s a link to a blank battleship template you can use.

Some extra ideas

The following activities can be used traditionally, but by putting them in a sheet protector we are able to reuse them once and again with our different groups. In all of these it’s important to make the spaces big enough to be able to write the answers with an erasable marker.

  • Pair work conversation cards: We’ve all used those pre-made conversation cards that have blanks and as Student A responds, Student B fills out blanks.
  • Word search: Make your own word searches with the target language for your lesson here. (There are a few websites that do this, so explore on Google to see what options you can find).
  • Crossword: You can also make your own Crossword puzzles just click here.
  • Hangman: Have the template already printed out for instant fun. Print it here.

There are tons more games and activities that can be reused easily simply by putting them into a sheet protector and using erasable markers. Enjoy!

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2 thoughts on “3 ways to use sheet protectors for easy reusable ESL activities

  1. Thanks for all the different activity variations
    We’ve been calling them personal whiteboards, and we use them mainly for quizzes and group work. The kids love them and everyone likes to have a go at writing or drawing when we use them.
    One Top Tip for personal whiteboards, though. Don’t buy the cheapest whiteboard markers in the shop (I did). They don’t erase properly, so after a few write and wipes you are left with a hard to clean bluey-browny streaks and smudges. Spend a bit more money on the markers and you’ll get a few more uses out of your sheets.

    Liked by 1 person

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