5 Amazing DIY Teaching Websites

As teachers we sometimes want to tweak a little (or a lot) our course book’s ready-made activities or simply want to make our own to really adapt it to our students’ needs. Now, let’s face it, this can be quite time consuming and if we’re not that tech friendly it may be nearly impossible other than brining out the markers. I think we’ve all tried at least once to make our own crossword puzzle, or Bingo from scratch on Word and found ourselves quickly giving up or just finding one that was already made and adjusting our lesson plan around it. In light of this, I’ve put together some sites that I’ve found really helped me to save time and easily make my own fun activities in just minutes. Hopefully they will also help you.

Crossword Puzzle Maker

This website actually offers a few tools to generate games along with fun and easy worksheets and printables, so I definitely suggest you check out their complete website. What I especially like about their crossword maker over other similar sites, is that you can adjust it after it’s been created. My favorite part is that it give you the option of printing out an answer sheet. You can adjust font, titles, size of the crossword, or the font, and instead of printing you can also save it as an image. You can go crazy with this one and give your students personalized crossword puzzles or even get them to make their own as homework!

Word search Maker

This one I’ve found is just very simple to use. Although it doesn’t allow to adjust after creating it, you can also just copy paste it into your own Word file and be creative with it. Since it’s a word search you can put these into sheet protectors and have your students find the words with an erasable marker and then reuse with all of your other groups. For more ideas on how to use sheet protectors in class take a look at 3 ways to use sheet protectors for easy reusable ESL activities.

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Bingo Maker

This one in particular is one of my favorite. I love making Bingo cards for many different types of games,even with songs. If you want to know how I use it with songs, check out my previous blog “No more song fill-in-the-blanks. Part 1”. Anyway, this site gives you some ready-made bingo word lists or topics that can really come in handy, which you can also personalize, or if you’re in the mood (and have the time) simply make one from scratch. You can even put a serial number on each Bingo card to keep track of them and again you can put these in the sheet protectors and have fun with them in all your classes.

Boardgames

On this site you can find tons of options to adjust to your ELT board-gaming needs. You can either use one on their list, where you’ll find a lot of great topics to review with your students, or again make your own. You can also adapt it so it has pictures, or words, or a combination of both. I also found one of the templates to be really cool, because it has a loop racetrack theme, so you can adapt the rules depending on how much practice you want your students to have by changing the number of laps to win. For boardgames, you can also simply make a blank one, put numbers, categories or colors on them and print out task cards for each category (if you put colors, print them out on rainbow-colored paper). This is sure to add lots more fun to the game. By doing this you can also reuse the board in any class, simply by printing out new task cards.

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Flashcards

We all like using flashcards in class and here you can make your own. It has a lot of different adjustments that will be sure to help you make the perfect ones for your activity. You can even make the task cards for the board games here. A great feature for those teachers that like using phonetic alphabet with your students, it has a special phonemic keyboard that lets you put it on the cards. If you want to print out two-sided flashcards, just make two sets: one for the front and the other for the back. Be sure to put print it out correctly so they end up behind the right one.

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Well, these are just some of the ones I’ve used. I hope they come in handy for your future lesson plans! Think of all the time you’ll save and how cool it’ll be to give your students a worksheet that is made especially for them.

 

Happy teaching this week!

 

 

FINAL IDEA: As a final tip, get your students to use these for homework. For example, if they are reading a book, have them identify the new vocabulary words and make a crossword puzzle. When in class, exchange the crossword puzzles and when they are done you can do one comprehensive list for the whole class. Always take a few of your own, just in case a student didn’t do their homework.

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!