Beth has taught early childhood education, including students with special needs, for the past 11 years. She has a bachelor's degree in Elementary Education.
ESL Number Games
For ESL (English as a second language) students learning number words can be confusing and boring, but making it fun by using games and hands on activities can make it easier and more engaging. We use number words everyday in communication and numbers are an essential part of the English language. With some of these quick and easy activities, you can reinforce number words and have fun in the classroom!
Bean Bag Toss
Counting is a helpful way to reinforce number words. You can do this activity in many different ways. You can have the students break into pairs of two or sit the class in a circle. Choose a player to pick a number to begin counting at. Begin the counting by tossing the bean bag and shouting out the number. The next person continues the toss by counting on with the next number. Play continues until the teacher chooses a new player to start over. This is a great way to reinforce counting, and it increases hand/eye coordination.
Create two sets of matching number cards and spread them out on the floor, face down and neatly in rows. Sit the students in a large circle around the cards so that everyone can clearly see the numbers. Take turns having students flip over two numbers to get a match. When they flip over the cards, they must read the number word to the class aloud. Play continues until all the matches have been found. This game requires memory and concentration.
Break the class into groups of 5-6 students. Have students work together to lay on the floor and use their bodies to create a number. Once they are ready, the other team needs to guess the number that the other team has created. Numbers get harder and bigger as the game progresses.
Write each number on a popsicle stick and draw a green squiggly worm on 10 additional sticks. Put all the sticks in a coffee can with the blank sides up and have the students sit in a circle. One at a time, the students draw a popsicle stick. If they pull a number, they need to shout out the number word. If they pull out a wiggle worm stick, the entire class needs to jump up and wiggle all over. The kids love this activity because it provides a fun opportunity for movement!
Newspaper Number Hunt
Give each student a page from a newspaper and a highlighter. Have students try to find numbers or number words in the articles and highlight them. When they find the number, they must shout out the number word to reinforce concepts. The winner is the student who finds the most numbers on their page.
Roll and Race
Give each student a 6-sided die, a large empty hundreds chart and a crayon or marker. After you say go, have your students roll the die, count the dots that they rolled and color the amount of boxes on their die. Encourage students to count the dots on the die and boxes out loud to reinforce counting skills. The rolling and coloring should be quick because the first one to fill up their hundreds chart is the winner!
Number Mix up
Choose a group of numbers and write them on large cards in order. Mix up the numbers and pass them out to your students in random order. When you say go, have the students stand up and the put the numbers in the correct order as fast as they can. When they are done, have the class read the numbers out loud to make sure they are in the correct order. This is a great activity to do when kids are lining up to go to lunch, recess or special time. It makes lining up fun and reinforces counting and number concepts.
Song and Rhyming Fun
There are many fun, counting songs to listen to and learn to sing in your classroom. Music makes learning more engaging and memorable.
Some examples of counting songs are:
- 5 Little Ducks
- 10 Fingers
- The Ants Go Marching
- 'The Number Rock' by Greg and Steve
Also, using nursery rhymes and finger plays can make counting more memorable and fun!
Some examples of counting rhymes are:
- This Old Man
- One, Two Buckle My Shoes
- One Potato, Two Potato
- 10 Little Indians
- 10 in a Bed
- 5 Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed
Using short and fun counting activities is a great way to teach number words with ESL students in your classroom. Be repetitive with these activities so that they are reinforced daily. Hands-on games, music and rhymes also make learning more engaging and will get your students excited about what they are learning. Learning with numbers can be fun for everyone!
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