Materials for language lessons

Archive for the ‘Games’ Category

Christmas quiz

  1. What’s the name of the period leading up to Christmas?
  2. How many Wise Men brought gifts to Jesus?
  3. How does Good King Wenceslas like his pizzas?
  4. What was the name of John the Baptist’s Mother?
  5. Who brings presents to children in Holland on the 5th/6th December?
  6. How many letters are in the angelic alphabet?
  7. In what town was Jesus born?
  8. How many presents were given in total in the 12 Days of Christmas?
  9. In what decade was the first Christmas Card sent in the UK?
  10. What country did the family escape to?
  11. How many of Rudolph’s eight companions names start with ‘D’?
  12. What country did Christmas Trees originate from?
  13. Who was the Jewish King who ordered the babies to be killed?
  14. What’s the second line of “I’m dreaming of a white christmas”?
  15. What was Joseph’s job?
  16. Who started the custom of Wassailing?
  17. Who were first people to visit the baby Jesus?
  18. What’s lucky to find in your Christmas Pudding?
  19. What Angel visited Mary?
  20. Where did the baby Jesus sleep?

The answers are:

  1. Advent
  2. More than one, the Bible doesn’t say how many!
  3. Deep pan, crisp and even!
  4. Elizabeth
  5. St. Nicholas
  6. 25; ‘no el’!!!
  7. Bethlehem
  8. 364
  9. 1840s – 1843 by Sir Henry Cole
  10. Egypt
  11. Three – Dasher, Dancer and Donner
  12. Germany – it was Latvia but it was part of German then!
  13. King Herod
  14. Just like the ones I used to know
  15. Carpenter
  16. The Anglo Saxons – it means ‘good health’
  17. Shepherds
  18. A six pence
  19. Gabriel
  20. In a manger





Battle Ships – A Vocabulary Game

Level: Easy to Medium

Divide the students in to groups of four or five. Then ask the student to make the name for their ships for example with the names of animals, cities, movie stars or let them find their own favourite names.

Ask them to choose the Captain and the Shooter. The captain’s duty is to memorize his ship’s name, so he can reply if somebody call his ship’s name. The shooter’s duty is to memorize the names of the ships of ‘their enemies’, so he can shoot them by calling their ship’s name.

Arrange all the captains in a circle, the ships’ crews must line up behind their captains. The shooter is the last crew member in line.

The teacher must decide a lexical area of vocabulary, this vocabulary will be used to defend their ships from the attacks. Every students (except the shooters) must find their own words. The lexical area for example, “Four Legged Animals”. Give the students 1-2 minutes to find as many possible words as they can and memorize them.

Start the game by calling a ship’s name, for example the ship name is “THE CALIFORNIAN”. The captain of THE CALIFORNIAN must reply with a word from the lexical area given, for example he says “TIGER” followed by his crews behind him one by one, “COW”; “SHEEP” until it  is the shooter turns and he calls out the name of another ship and the captain of the ship called must reply and his crews must do the same thing. No word can be repeated.

If the captain is late to reply (more than 2 seconds) or his crew can not say the words or a word repeated or the shooter shoots the wrong ship (his own ship or the ship that has already been sunk) the ship is sunk, and the crew members can join the crew of another ship.

The teacher can change the lexical area for the next round.

In the last round there will be two big groups battling to be the winner.

(by Agung Listyawan)


Bad Fruit: A Shoppers’ Nightmare

Level: Easy to Medium

This is an oral communication activity appropriate for EFL learners in elementary/primary school. (It’s optimal for grades 3-6). This game is designed for practicing “shopping” dialogues and vocabulary.

Materials: “produce” and play money.

Object of Game: To accumulate as many products as possible.

      Students are divided into clerks and shoppers.
      The clerks set up “stands” to allow easy access for all shoppers (e.g. around the outsides of the room with their backs to the wall).
      The shoppers are given a set amount of money* (e.g. dollars, euros, pounds, etc.) and begin at a stand where there is an open space.
      Students shop, trying to accumulate as many items as possible (each item is 1 unit of currency).
      Periodically, the instructor will say “stop” (a bell or other device may be needed to attract attention in some cultural and classroom contexts) and call out a name of one of the products. Students with that product must then put ALL their products in a basket at the front of the room. The remaining students continue shopping. Students who had to dump their products must begin again from scratch (with fewer units of currency).
      The student with the most products at the end wins.
    Students then switch roles.

*It is recommended giving students as much money as possible since students who run out can no longer participate.

Alternative play for more advanced students: Clerks set the price of items. Shoppers have the option of negotiating the price. There are two winners in this version: The shopper who accumulates the most products and the clerk who makes the most money.

(by Mike Yough)









More brain teasers

1. Johnny’s mother had three children. The first child was named April. The second child was named May. What was the third child’s name?

2. Before Mt. Everest was discovered, what was the highest mountain in the world?

3. Billie was born on December 28th, yet her birthday always falls in the summer. How is this possible?

4. Which is correct to say, “The yolk of the egg is white” or “The yolk of the egg are white?”

5.  A farmer has five haystacks in one field and four haystacks in another. How many haystacks would he have if he combined them all in one field?

6. A farmer had nine sheep, and all but seven died. How many did he have left?

7. A woman gave birth to two sons who were born on the same hour of the same day of the same year but were not twins. How is this possible?

8. A man lives in a house with four walls. Each wall has a window. Each window has a southern exposure. A bear walks by. What color is the bear?

9. A black man dressed all in black, wearing a black mask, stands at a crossroads in a totally black-painted town. All of the streetlights in town are broken. There is no moon. A black-painted car without headlights drives straight toward him, but turns in time and doesn’t hit him. How did the driver know to swerve?

10.  Jack gave John the following challenge: “If you sit down in that chair, I bet I can make you get out of it before I run around the chair three times,” he said.

“Aw, that’s not fair,” John said. “You’ll just prick me with a pin or something.”

“Nope,” Jack said. “I won’t touch you, either directly or with any object. If you get out of the chair, it’ll be by your own choice.”

John thought, accepted the challenge, and lo and behold, Jack won the bet. How did he do it?


1. Johnny

2. Mt. Everest. It just wasn’t discovered yet.

3. Billie lives in the southern hemisphere.

4. Egg yolks are yellow…

5. If he combines all his haystacks, they all become one big stack.

6. Seven.

7. They were two of triplets.

8. The only place each window could have a southern exposure is on the north pole. So the bear must have been a polar bear. The answer, therefore, is white.

9. It’s daytime…

10. John sat down in the chair. Jack ran around it twice, then said, “I’ll be back in a week to run the third time around!”

Riddles 2.

1. I can run but not walk. Wherever I go, thought follows close behind. What am I?

2. The man who invented it doesn’t want it. The man who bought it doesn’t need it. The man who needs it doesn’t know it. What is it?

3. I am mother and father, but never birth or nurse. I’m rarely still, but I never wander. What am I?

4. I never was, am always to be,
No one ever saw me, nor ever will,
And yet I am the confidence of all
To live and breathe on this terrestrial ball.
What am I?

5. All about, but cannot be seen,
Can be captured, cannot be held,
No throat, but can be heard.
What is it?



1. nose

2. a coffin

3. a tree

4.  tomorrow

5. the wind

Medieval brain teasers

I have found these medieval brain teasers on pedagonet, maybe you will like them, too:
The Amulet

A strange man was one day found loitering in the courtyard of the castle, and the retainers, noticing that his speech had a foreign accent, suspected him of being a spy.

So the fellow was brought before Sir Hugh, who could make nothing of him. 

He ordered the varlet to be removed and examined, in order to discover whether any secret letters were concealed about him. 

All they found was a piece of parchment securely suspended from the neck, bearing this mysterious inscription:

To-day we know that Abracadabra was the supreme deity of the Assyrians, and this curious arrangement of the letters of the word was commonly worn in Europe as an amulet or charm against diseases. 

But Sir Hugh had never heard of it, and, regarding the document rather seriously, he sent for a learned priest.
“I pray you, Sir Clerk,” said he, “show me the true intent of this strange writing.”

“Sir Hugh,” replied the holy man, after he had spoken in a foreign tongue with the stranger, “it is but an amulet that this poor wight doth wear upon his breast to ward off the ague, the toothache, and such other afflictions of the body.”

“Then give the varlet food and raiment and set him on his way,” said Sir Hugh.
“Meanwhile, Sir Clerk, canst thou tell me in how many ways this word ‘Abracadabra’ may be read on the amulet, always starting from the A at the top thereof?”

Place your pencil on the A at the top and count in how many different ways you can trace out the word downwards, always passing from a letter to an adjoining one.

The Amulet
The puzzle was to place your pencil on the A at the top of the amulet and count in how many different ways you could trace out the word “Abracadabra” downwards, always passing from a letter to an adjoining one.

“Now, mark ye, fine fellows,” said Sir Hugh to some who had besought him to explain, “that at the very first start there be two ways open: whichever B ye select, there will be two several ways of proceeding (twice times two are four); whichever R ye select, there be two ways of going on (twice times four are eight); and so on until the end. 

Each letter in order from A downwards may so be reached in 2, 4, 8, 16, 32, etc., ways. 

Therefore, as there be ten lines or steps in all from A to the bottom, all ye need do is to multiply ten 2’s together, and truly the result,1024, is the answer thou dost seek.”


The Four Princes

The dominions of a certain Eastern monarch formed a perfectly square tract of country.
It happened that the king one day discovered that his four sons were not only plotting against each other, but were in secret rebellion against himself. After consulting with his advisers he decided not to exile the princes, but to confine them to the four corners of the country, where each should be given a triangular territory of equal area, beyond the boundaries of which they would pass at the costof their lives.Now, the royal surveyor found himself confronted by great natural difficulties, owing to the wild character of the country.
The result was that while each was given exactly the same area, the four triangular districts were all of different shapes, somewhat in the manner shown in the illustration.

The puzzle is to give the three measurements for each of the four districts in the smallest possible numbers—all whole furlongs.
In other words, it is required to find (in the smallest possible numbers) four rational right-angled triangles of equal area.

The Four Princes
Answer :When Montucla, in his edition of Ozanam’s Recreations in Mathematics, declared that “No more than three right-angled triangles, equal to each other, can be found in whole numbers, but we may find as many as we choose in fractions,” he curiously overlooked the obvious fact that if you give all your sides a common denominator and then cancel that denominator you have the required answer in integers!Every reader should know that if we take any two numbers, m and n, then m2 + n2m2 – n2, and 2mn will be the three sides of a rational right-angled triangle.
Here m and n are called generating numbers.
To form three such triangles of equal area, we use the following simple formula, where m is the greater number:

mn + m2 + n2 = a
m2 – n2 = b
2mn + n2 = c

Now, if we form three triangles from the following pairs of generators, a and ba and ca and b + c, they will all be of equal area. This is the little problem respecting which Lewis Carroll says in his diary (see his Life and Letters by Collingwood, p. 343), “Sat up last night till 4 a.m., over a tempting problem, sent me from New York, ‘to find three equal rational-sided right-angled triangles.’ I found two … but could not find three!”

The following is a subtle formula by means of which we may always find a R.A.T. equal in area to any given R.A.T.
Let z = hypotenuse, b = base, h = height, a = area of the given triangle; then all we have to do is to form a R.A.T. from the generators z2 and 4a, and give each side the denominator 2z (b2 – h2), and we get the required answer in fractions.
If we multiply all three sides of the original triangle by the denominator, we shall get at once a solution in whole numbers.

The answer to our puzzle in smallest possible numbers is as follows:

First Prince 518 1320 1418
Second Prince 280 2442 2458
Third Prince 231 2960 2969
Fourth Prince 111 6160 6161

The area in every case is 341,880 square furlongs.
I must here refrain from showing fully how I get these figures. I will explain, however, that the first three triangles are obtained, in the manner shown, from the numbers 3 and 4, which give the generators 37, 7; 37, 33; 37, 40.
These three pairs of numbers solve the indeterminate equation, a3b – b3a = 341,880.
If we can find another pair of values, the thing is done. These values are 56, 55, which generators give the last triangle.
The next best answer that I have found is derived from 5 and 6, which give the generators 91, 11; 91, 85; 91, 96.
The fourth pair of values is 63, 42.

The reader will understand from what I have written above that there is no limit to the number of rational-sided R.A.T.’s of equal area that may be found in whole numbers.

The Crescent and the Cross

When Sir Hugh’s kinsman, Sir John de Collingham, came back from the Holy Land, he brought with him a flag bearing the sign of a crescent, as shown in the illustration.
It was noticed that De Fortibus spent much time in examining this crescent and comparing it with the cross borne by the Crusaders on their own banners.One day, in the presence of a goodly company, he made the following striking announcement:

“I have thought much of late, friends and masters, of the conversion of the crescent to the cross, and this has led me to the finding of matters at which I marvel greatly, for that which I shall now make known is mystical and deep.

Truly it was shown to me in a dream that this crescent of the enemy may be exactly converted into the cross of our own banner. Herein is a sign that bodes good for our wars in the Holy Land.”

Sir Hugh de Fortibus then explained that the crescent in one banner might be cut into pieces that would exactly form the perfect cross in the other.

It is certainly rather curious; and I show how the conversion from crescent to cross may be made in ten pieces, using every part of the crescent.
The flag was alike on both sides, so pieces may be turned over where required.

The Crescent and The Cross
Answer :”By the toes of St. Moden,” exclaimed Sir Hugh de Fortibus when this puzzle was brought up, “my poor wit hath never shaped a more cunning artifice or any more bewitching to look upon.
It came to me as in a vision, and ofttimes have I marvelled at the thing, seeing its exceeding difficulty.
My masters and kinsmen, it is done in this wise.”

The worthy knight then pointed out that the crescent was of a particular and somewhat irregular form—the two distances a to b andc to d being straight lines, and the arcs ac and bd being precisely similar.
He showed that if the cuts be made as in Figure 1, the four pieces will fit together and form a perfect square, as shown in Figure 2, if we there only regard the three curved lines.
By now making the straight cuts also shown in Figure 2, we get the ten pieces that fit together, as in Figure 3, and form a perfectly symmetrical Greek cross.
The proportions of the crescent and cross in the original illustration were correct, and the solution can be demonstrated to be absolutely exact and not merely approximate.

I have a solution in considerably fewer pieces, but it is far more difficult to understand than the above method, in which the problem is simplified by introducing the intermediate square


If our students speak English well, we can give them some more difficult riddles as well:

1, If you break me
I do not stop working,
If you touch me
I may be snared,
If you lose me
Nothing will matter.

2, My life can be measured in hours,
I serve by being devoured.
Thin, I am quick
Fat, I am slow
Wind is my foe.


3, You heard me before,
Yet you hear me again,
Then I die,
‘Till you call me again.

4, I build up castles.
I tear down mountains.
I make some men blind,
I help others to see.
What am I?

5, Soft and fragile is my skin
I get my growth in mud
I’m dangerous as much as pretty
For if not careful, I draw blood.

6, It cannot be seen, it cannot be felt,
Cannot be heard, cannot be smelt,
Lies behind stars and under hills,
And empty holes it fills.
Comes first follows after,
Ends life kills laughter.

7, If you have it, you want to share it.
If you share it, you don’t have it.
What is it?


1, heart, 2, candle, 3, echo, 4, sand, 5, thorn, 6, darkness, 7, secret

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