6 Great Teaching Games for 5- to 7-Year-Olds

May 1, 2017

Students aged five to seven are a joy to teach. They are naturally inquisitive and more often than not, full of joy. However, it is safe to say that their irrepressible energy provides teachers with some unique challenges. Here are Teacher’s Friend – Vietnam’s top-notch teaching games for harnessing this energy, and changing it from an obstacle to an advantage.[learn_more caption="Read more"] Content goes here[/learn_more]


If you’re from the United Kingdom, you may well know this game as ‘Chinese Whispers’, a title that is now considered politically incorrect. The concept is simple; sit students in a circle and choose a word/phrase from that lesson’s target language. The first student must whisper the word to the student to his right, that new student then whispers to the student on their right, and so on until the turn of the final student in the circle (the student sat left of the original student). This final student must repeat what they heard out-loud for the class. The game then repeats by switching both the initial student and the chosen vocabulary point. A lot of the time, the final students will get the answer completely wrong, but that’s all part of the fun. The game is not only an enjoyable time-out, but it provides subtle language drilling; students will unwittingly focus on the pronunciation of the language they repeat.


What’s the Time Mr. Wolf?

Another childhood classic, ‘What’s the Time Mr. Wolf?’ allows students to move around and let off some steam, all the while achieving excellent language practice. One student, ‘Mr. Wolf’, stands on the far side of the classroom to the other students, who must chorally ask him/her ‘What’s the Time Mr. Wolf?’. Mr. Wolf will reply with an hour of the day. This time corresponds to the amount of steps the other students must then take, for example, if Mr. Wolf says ‘5 o’clock’, the other students must all take 5 steps towards him. At Mr. Wolf’s discretion, he/she will eventually answer with ‘Dinner Time!’ at which point he chases after the students who must run back to ‘safety’. The first student caught by Mr. Wolf then becomes the next Mr. Wolf. The game is a real crowd-pleaser, but also contains a good deal of language learning potential. Aside from the obvious ‘telling-the-time’ vocabulary, it can be adapted to introduce new levels of complexity. When the student who plays Mr. Wolf is female, make the other students call her Ms. Wolf. Additionally, you can mix and match the chosen animal, Ms. Tiger, Mr. Snake, Mrs. Zombie, etc. The result of playing this game regularly is not only happy children, but students who have developed a strong understanding of language points beyond the standard level of their age-range.

Duck Duck Goose

The classic childhood game of ‘Duck Duck Goose’ is another easily modifiable game that allows for thorough pronunciation drilling. To play, clear a large space and sit students on the floor in a circle facing inwards. Choose a volunteer who will walk around the circle, tapping each one of them on the back and saying ‘duck’. At the volunteer’s discretion, he will tap one student on the back and this time says ‘goose’. At this point, the chase begins. The volunteer must complete a lap of the circuit and sit back in the ‘goose’s’ space before the ‘goose’ catches up with him. Assuming the ‘goose’ did not catch up with the volunteer, the ‘goose’ takes over the volunteer’s role. You may be wondering, ‘What learning content could this possibly provide?’. Well, quite a lot actually. Exchange ‘duck’ and ‘goose’ with your target vocabulary and you have the perfect excuse to get students to repeat vocabulary over and over. For example, when learning furniture vocabulary, play ‘chair, chair, table’; when learning transport vocabulary, play ‘plane, plane, bus’. N.B. Place the most difficult vocabulary first as that is the vocabulary students will repeat most often. If the volunteer student’s pronunciation is insufficient, you may choose to keep that volunteer as the active player until his pronunciation becomes acceptable.


Flashcard Bowling

As any experienced YL (Young Learner) teacher knows. Flashcards open-up a whole new array of teaching games and educational possibilities. One of our favourites is flashcard bowling. It is as simple as it sounds. Stand flashcards up that contain pictures of your target vocabulary. Put them side by side and let students take turns rolling a ball towards them. They must then name the vocabulary on the flashcard that they have hit. We recommend making it very clear to the students that after they ‘bowl’ they must go and collect the ball and replace the now fallen flashcard. Otherwise this game could soon descend into chaos and/or be exhausting for the teacher. Another variation has students call out vocabulary words for the bowler to target. While this might not be a game for every lesson (and classroom!), it makes an excellent, occasional, end-of-class treat.

Make the Shape!

This game works best for learning the vocabulary of shapes, but it can be adapted for learning the alphabet. Clear a space and have all the students stand up. You (or a volunteer) must say the name of a shape and students must recreate that shape using their bodies. The low-energy version of this game has students making the shapes with their fingers. The active version has them using their whole bodies. As well as being great revision, this game encourages teamwork, as students will have to group together to create more complex shapes, like stars. Students are put in a competitive setting where they are forced to think fast and outside of the box. Shape-learning has traditionally been the strong suit for visually orientated learners, but this game provides fun practice for kinaesthetic students too.


Invisible Words

Like ‘Make the Shape!’ this game can be adapted according to the learning material. It is best used with shapes, letters, and (very) simple words. Separate the students into two teams and have each team stand in a row facing the board. You stand at the back of the lines and discretely show/whisper a piece of vocabulary to the final students in the line. These students must then write/draw that word/letter/shape on the next student’s back. That student must then do the same to the student in front of them. This continues until the first student in the line runs to the board and writes that word down. The first team to write the word correctly earns a point. Then the student at the front of each line moves to the back and the process repeats. It encourages students to pay close attention to spelling and has them mentally running over the key vocabulary. We encourage you to play the game in silence to keep things manageable, as students are often tempted into cheating and overexcitement.

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Written by Alex Sinclair Lack for Teacher’s Friend – Vietnam


7 Excellent Attractions in Hanoi

April 19, 2017

Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum

This striking building is perhaps Hanoi’s most iconic monument. Inside is the preserved body of beloved leader Ho Chi Minh. It is worth getting up early at around 6am for the impressive changing of the guard. It is well worth the surreal experience of visiting his body but opening times are strange, it is only open in the morning and not every morning. Be sure to look it up before you visit to avoid disappointment.


10 Unmissable Foods in Hanoi

April 19, 2017

There is not one single food capital in Vietnam, but the capital of Vietnam certainly has a lot of incredible food to offer.


  1. Ph (pronounced ‘pherr’)

You can’t walk down a street in Hanoi without finding a pho joint. Whether you prefer the classic bo (beef), or the slightly lighter ga (chicken) this iconic dish is a must. If there really is a chicken soup for the soul, then this is surely it. It’s available any time of day and is a popular choice for breakfast, lunch and dinner. It’s best with the local black pepper, lime, chili and garlic sauce that sits on nearly every table.


10 Great Drinks to Try in Hanoi

April 19, 2017

Vietnamese Coffee

A strong, unique coffee famous throughout the world for its quality. It is served over ice in summer and hot in winter. The Vietnamese do a lot of different drinks with coffee, they often serve it with cream, yoghurt, ice-cream but for the classic Vietnamese coffee experience, drink it with a sweet, condensed milk.

Find it at all of the thousands of cafes in Vietnam.


Nine Fantastic Cafe’s In Hanoi

April 19, 2017

Hanoi inherited France’s café culture during their colonial period and nowhere is this more apparent than in the capital. Whatever your style there is something for everyone, from modern trendy coffee shops to quaint little cafes, it’s a huge part of Hanoian culture.  Expect free wifi in all of the cafes listed below and in most around the city. We’re sure you’ll find your own favourites eventually but until then here are some TFV favourites.