Here is a list of activities which don’t require any preparation or special materials beyond a few blank slips of paper.
10 dictation activities
Letter dictation is a materials free activity. To do a Dictogloss without a prepared text, just think of and recite a short and interesting anecdote and try to be consistent in each retelling.
A to Z race
A frenetic vocabulary reviewing game. You will need a board for the students to write on.
Practise past tense forms with this classroom whodunnit.
Ask the expert
Students interview each other about their interests.
Play Scattergories the ESL way.
I can usually find enough items in my pockets, the bottom of my bag, the classroom/teacher’s room to make this work. Cover the objects up with a plastic bag or piece of newspaper.
Old school / new school
Comparing life in school across cultures and times.
Pit Pat Putt
A pronunciation game to practise phonemes.
Present continuous mime game
You’ll need to copy out the 14 mime slips for each group.
The recipe game
Students invent their own three-course menu with limited ingredients.
A discussion activity using the student’s own topics.
Stand up if you’ve ever…
A present perfect practise activity which uncovers the students’ best stories.
Get the students to write their own taboo words. Give each student five to ten slips of paper and ask them to look through their notes and write down interesting vocabulary items. You could assign each student/pair of students a different theme or chapter of the coursebook.
Tic Tac Toe
A Quick and fun filler.
What’s in your fridge?
A game to review specific vocabulary sets, there is/are as well as countable and uncountable nouns.
What’s the movie?
A guess the movie game in which students write a short synopsis of their favourite movies using the present tense.
What would you wear?
Brainstorm items of clothing and practise the second conditional.