ESL Activity: Categories (Beginner / Intermediate)
This is an incredibly useful and versatile game that can be used for low-intermediate to advanced level students.
Directions: This game is adapted from "Scattergories." First, separate students into teams of 2 or 3 or 4 students. Write 5 or 10 categories on the board (or you can use the printable category cards available below). Categories can be English-related (like Nouns, Verbs, Adjectives, Adverbs, Plural Nouns, Countable Nouns, etc.) or just fun categories or categories that reinforce recent learned vocabulary (like Something you can eat, Something destructive, Something hollow, Places, Something heavy, etc).
Choose one letter from the alphabet, and then give the teams a set amount of time (usually 2 or 3 minutes) to come up with a word for each category that begins with the specified letter. If the letter is "G," for example, answers might look like this:
In the classroom: Gary
Something you can eat: grain
Each syllable = 1 point: gorilla (3 points)
After the time is up, ask each team for their answers for each category. Good answers result in one point. However, if two teams come up with the same answer for a certain category, neither team gets a point. This encourages creativity.
Repeat as many times as you want, using different letters of the alphabet. The team with the most points wins - sometimes I give them prizes; usually they don't really care because they like playing the game itself.
You'll be amazed with what your students are able to come up with. Also, it's a good way reinforce new vocabulary words (if you teach the word "hollow," then you can add, "things that are hollow" as a category!).
Here are some sample Category cards that you can print and use:
Several more Category cards in The Great ESL Games Compendium!