Teaching ESL Students Months of the Year: Games & Activities Video

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  • 0:04 ESL and the Learning Process
  • 1:03 Group Activities
  • 3:21 Individual Quiet Games
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Maria Airth

Maria has a Doctorate of Education and over 15 years of experience teaching psychology and math related courses at the university level.

Research has shown that engaging students in games is a great way to activate deep learning. This lesson offers group and individual games and activities for ESL students to learn the months of the year.

ESL and the Learning Process

Imagine living in a place where everyone at school spoke a different language than you. Everything is new and different, and you don't understand much of what's said around you. This is what an English as a second language (ESL) student might feel like.

Learning a language that is not native can be very difficult. Making the learning process fun and exciting is necessary, especially when working with students who are disadvantaged by the language barrier between themselves and their teachers. While ESL students may have difficulty with language, they're still children, and children love to play. What better way is there to help them learn than to turn learning into a game?

The more active a child is during the learning process, the more he or she is able to deeply process the information being learned. So, active games are great to get students moving and engaged in new ideas. This lesson offers games to help ESL students learn the months of the year. The activities discussed are categorized by activity level and group size.

Group Activities

The following games we'll discuss can be played by the whole class; for games with teams, try to get at least three on a team. The games and activities are appropriate for students of any age who are learning the English names of the months of the year.

1. Find It

The first game to try is called Find It.


For this game's materials, you'll need laminated signs for the months of the year. Make as many sets as you have teams. This can also be a solo game, so make enough sets for each student if appropriate.


For preparation, affix the signs to the walls of the classroom at a height that is easy for your students to read. For an easier game, group the months by name, such as putting all of the January signs together. For a more challenging game, randomly separate the months.

To Play

To play the game, have students work on their own or in teams. When you call out the name of a month, students must go and find the English printed sign that says the month and stand next to it. After calling each month, show a sign with the correct answer so that students can check their work.

2. Line Them Up

Another game to try is called Line Them Up.


For materials, you'll need paper and markers for student teams.


There's no preparation required.

To Play

To play this game, separate students into teams. At a signal, the teams will see how fast they can write down the names of the month and then put them in the correct order. The winning team is the one that finishes first and has the months spelled correctly in the right order. For beginners, you can be lenient on spellings.

3. Go Fish

A third game to try is Go Fish.


The only materials you'll need are regular playing cards or card stock cut to the same size.


For preparation, alter the cards so that they contain the months of the year. You won't need the jokers or kings.

To Play

This game can be played with up to four players to a set of cards. To play this game, students deal out a set of cards to each player and keep the rest in a pile. The goal of the game is to collect all of the months of the year and place them face down in order.

The rules of the game are as follows:

  • On a player's turn, he or she may draw from the pile, take the top card from the discard pile, or ask another player if he or she has the next needed card.
  • If he/she draws and does not get the next needed month, his/her turn is over.
  • Getting the next needed month leads to another turn.
  • At the end of a player's turn, he/she must discard one of the cards in hand.

Individual Quiet Games

There are also some activities designed for individual play. They can be used as reward activities for students during free time or as assigned activities for practice with learning the months of the year.

1. Build a Calendar

The first game is called Build a Calendar.


For materials, you'll need both a calendar with the names of the months removed and small images to represent holidays, like a heart for Valentine's Day in February and a Christmas tree for December.

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