Fun ways to teach English outside

Here are some fun ways to teach English outside. If you have a class that meets outside, here are some fun outside ESL games you can play.

Here are some fun ways to teach English outside. If you have a class that meets outside, these are some fun outside ESL games you can play.

1. Treasure Hunt

An outdoor treasure hunt is a classic way to teach some English and keep everyone engaged outside.

  1. Make a treasure map with key vocabulary.
  2. For advanced students, list a key on the treasure map and add some clues

If students need help, then you can assign them to teams. The students can then work together to solve the clues. This helps foster conversation in the target language, too!

The first group that finds the treasure wins. Here are 30 clues to give you some ideas.

#2. Easter Egg Vocabulary Hunt

Similar to a treasure hunt, but even easier. Print out some clues and use the vocabulary you have been learning. This is a great activity for teaching prepositions.

For example, here are some ESL treasure hunt clues:

The egg is ON the dresser.

It is UNDER the couch.

It is IN the mailbox.

Put some delicious treats in your eggs and add a Flashcard with a vocabulary word, too.

Advanced “Egg hunt” aka item hunt

If your students are adults or older, then you could also try a Neighborhood Scavenger Hunt and explore a neighborhood together. You can separate adults into small groups and practice vocabulary as they search the neighborhood for items.

3. Hot Potato Alphabet Game

This is a great way to teach the alphabet.

Put your students into a circle and have everyone sit down.

Give one student a potato (or any object, an eraser works great!) and tell them that it is hot.

The students must pass the potato to their neighbor as quickly as possible and say the next letter of the alphabet. Be sure to help in case anyone gets stuck! No one should feel anxious or on the spot.

4. Vocabulary Twister

Twister is a very good way to teach the names of body parts. You can also use a twister game to reinforce color recognition, as each circle has a different color. Also, you can use Twister to practice directional words (left/right).

How to Play Vocab Twister

  1. Spread the Twister mat face up inside or outside.
  2. Your students should take off their shoes before playing
  3. The teacher is the referee. That means you won’t be playing. Instead, you will spin the spinner and call out the moves. You also need to help any student who is struggling! Don’t let anyone get embarrassed. Help them find their body part and location.
  4. A referee spins the spinner, then calls out the body part and the color the arrow points to (“Left foot, blue,” “Right hand, yellow”).
  5. Your students should follow the instructions at the same time.
  6. When a player’s body part touches the mat in any way, they lose!  The last student who is left is the winner! 🏆

5. Vocab BINGO

Bingo is a great way to teach vocabulary for ESL classes inside or outside.

How to play BINGO

  1. Draw a 4×4 grid on a piece of paper and place vocabulary words in the boxes.
  2. Give your students chips or other markers.
  3. Read the definitions of the words out loud.
  4. Help your students place a chip on the word when they see the word that matches the definition.
  5. To win, students should get four words across in any direction.
  6. Don’t forget to have your students yell, “Bingo!”
  7. Give your winners prizes, of course!

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Ingrid Maria Pimsner, MA, BA, TEFL
Ingrid Maria Pimsner, MA, BA, TEFL

Ingrid Maria Pimsner has been teaching for over a decade in various universities, nonprofits, and private academies. She has taught English as a Second Language for Lutheran Children & Family Service, Nationalities Service Center, Lernstudio Barbarossa Berlin-Tegel, and more. In addition to her Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) Certification, she holds a BA from the University of Pennsylvania and a MA from Maryland Institute College of Art.