5 Useful Items to Bring to Class for Little to No Prep Activities

 Reducing your prep time is as easy as bringing the right materials to class. Here are five items that will help you create hours of little to no prep activities and take it easy.

1. Scraps of Paper

Scraps of paper are gold in an ESL classroom and can be utilized in many different ways.

  • Speaking Aids: Get them to write vocab words on their cards and then do activities which involve fitting those vocab words into their story or conversation.Activities can involve the student who uses all of their cards first wins.
  • Mingle activities: Students can write a question or three on a piece of paper. They ask each other their questions, swap papers and then ask a different student their new questions. You can also do activities, such as Two Truths One Lie and Do You Want to Hang Out with ___ and I?.
  • Listening to music: Put the students in groups with ten or so scraps of paper. Get them to copy down a word or sentence onto each one that you’ve picked from a song. Play the song and get them to put the cards in the order they hear the words.
  • Make Cards: 13 bits of paper to each person in a group of four. Each student writes 1-13 and a suite on their cards, and you’ve got poor man playing cards. This can be useful to have if you’re playing You’re a Liar.
  • Pairs or small groups talk and write what they have in common on a piece of paper. The teacher collects the papers and reads them out. Students raise their hand to indicate they also have that in common.
  • Speed vocab activities where student write words in a theme for two minutes, then swap their papers to check each others answers.

2. Poker Chips

Great for incentivising students. You don’t have to buy them either. I searched for pictures on the Internet, copied them into a word document, printed a couple of pages and then used a guillotine to cut them up.

  • Students gamble on whether a sentence is correct or not as a class or in groups.
  • In a game like Two Truths One Lie, they can gamble on whether a fact is true or not.
  • Make the Eraser Race more competitive with the loser of each round handing over a chip.

3. Post-It Notes

You can use them instead of scraps of paper sometimes, but they are useful in their own right.

  • Read and run type activities where you write vocab on the post-it note and stick them around the room. Students have to read the vocab, remember it, run back to their seat and copy it down.
  • Cover words or points on the board. Write the question numbers on the post-it note and use it to cover up the points. Students choose a question number and if they get it right, they get the points hidden beneath it. You can also write a sentence with a word covered up. They guess what the word is.
  • Who am I? Activities: Write a famous  person on each note and stick it to the student’s backs. They mingle and ask yes or no questions to determine who they are.

4. Ball or Soft Toy

Passing a ball or soft toy as you do an activity instantly makes it more active.

  • Going around a circle saying words or numbers in any of the Time Bomb variations is more fun if you throw or pass something.
  • Answer a question, ask a question, throw to someone else. Great for self introductions, too.
  • Teacher writes topics on the board. Students throw the ball at the board and talk about the topic they hit.
  • Hot potato activities where students have to say vocab in a particular theme within 3 seconds before passing it to the next person.

5. Extra Whiteboard Markers

Having extra whiteboard markers opens up a lot of different types of group activities and can allow the students to get your vocab words on the board instead of you.

  • Relay Activities involve splitting the class and board up into teams. Students write a word in their column, then pass the marker to the next person in their team. Team with the most correct words wins. Words could be in a particular theme or with each word starting with the last letter of the previous word.
  • Drawing activities: Each team makes a line in front of the board. The back person has a picture and whispers description to the next person. That is whispered down the line until it gets to the first person, who draws it. Information is gradually added.

What do you think? Do you agree? Have you tried some of these activities or have other items to add? Share it if you think this could be helpful or feel free to comment.



5 thoughts on “5 Useful Items to Bring to Class for Little to No Prep Activities

  1. Nice post! Very helpful… I sometimes get students to toss around whiteboard markers instead of a ball or soft toy. Could cut it down from five to four:-)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Gad to hear you’ve found it helpful. Yeah, I’ve done similar stuff before myself. The extra whiteboard markers have other uses though. I really like to get students to write on the board themselves because it saves me from doing all the writing, especially with vocab lists, it gets them out of their seats and it’s good for checking vocab knowledge and spelling. Thanks for the comment!


    1. Thanks a lot! Hope some of it was helpful. Dice and counters are really useful, too. I was thinking about having dice as number five on the list, but I really wanted to included the relay activities. I sometimes give each team a different marker and then get them to make one list together. I can then count the different colours to see who wins, while also getting all of the classes adjectives or sports related words or whatever on the board with no double ups.

      If you have a go with the poker chips idea, I’m interested to hear how it goes. I find it adds another dynamic to a lot of activities. Thanks for the comment 🙂


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s