16 easy whiteboard games
A simple list of games for English classes that you can do on a whiteboard. These are always handy to call on if you have limited facilities or resources available. You only need your board, markers, pens and paper.
Some games require a little bit of preparation while others need none at all. The whiteboard games are not only fun but also educational.
This game is also known as noughts and crosses. Divide your class into 2 teams, team X and Team O. After drawing a 3 by 3 grid, you get students to take turns choosing a square in which they put their team’s marker – X or O. They need to get 3 in a row horizontally, vertically, or diagonally to win.
To make this educational write or draw a target word that they are learning in each box. When a student chooses the box they must say the word or use it in a sentence. Having done that you can write their X or O in the square and move to the next team’s turn.
This is one of the simplest whiteboard games but it creates a lot of laughter! To play firstly divide your class into small teams. Next, get one person in the class to come to the board and give them a marker and a word. Their objective is to draw the word in order for the class to guess what it is. Finally, give a point to the team that guesses the word first.
3 – Hangman
You are usually scraping the bottom of the barrel if you are down to hangman and it is so well known there is no need for instructions on this page. That being said it is still fun for students. A good variation for younger students is to draw a set of steps with a monster or shark at the bottom. A circle or shape at the top of the stairs for each team. If they choose a letter that isn’t in the word they move down one step. Too many incorrect guesses and the monster eats them!
4 – Missing Object/Text
To play this game get 2 to 5 students to stand at the front of the class. Write a series of words on the board such as – tiger – elephant – fox – eagle – frog – camel – bear. Next, ask them to turn around. Once they are facing away from the board, erase one of the words. When you say “go” the students must turn around and name the missing word. The first student to say the missing word earns a point for their team.
5 – Scrambled Words
This is one of the best whiteboard games to review vocabulary your class has been learning. Select a list of words you want to go over and write them on the board with the letters jumbled up. It also a good idea to write numbers next to them. You might for example write 1- nwwoid for window, and 2- rmooslacs for classroom. Award points to whichever team solves a word first.
A variation of this activity is to use anagrams, actual words that contain the same letters like star and rats, or tacos and coats. See if your class can find anagrams of the words you write on the board. You will have to spend some time to compile a suitable list before doing this.
6 – Mixed-Up Sentences
Mixed–up or scrambled sentences can be used for primary, high school and adult lessons. You just need some sentences with the words in the wrong order. A simple example might be – cat black small is the = The black cat is small.
You can print out some scrambled sentences here and get your students to write the correctly worded sentences on the board in a team race.
If you don’t have a printer, you can write your scrambled sentences at the top of the board or even dictate them.
7 – Boggle
Boggle is a fun word building game that almost everyone knows. To play it simply draw a 4 by 4 grid on your board and put 1 letter in each box. Students need to make words by using adjoining letters. There is a thorough description and some grids you can use on the free printable boggle word puzzles page.
8 – Stop the Bus
This game has a few different names but the most common I’ve heard is stop the bus. It is very similar to the board game Scattegories if you have ever played that.
Divide your class into pairs or small groups. Each team will need a piece of paper and a pen. On the board write a list of categories, 6 or 7 is a good number. Let’s say your categories are – Animals, Clothing, Countries, Jobs, Sports, and Fruits. Next, write 1 letter on the board and shout “go!”. The students must write down one word for each category that begins with the letter you provided. The first team to complete the list yells stop the bus which means everybody else should also stop writing.
If the letter was G, the answers could be Animals = Gorilla, Clothing = Gloves, Countries = Germany, Jobs = Gardener, Sports = Golf, and Fruits = Grapes. Points are given to each team for each correct answer. You can also play this game with a timer of say 2-3 minutes and let all teams think of answers until time’s up.
9 – Word Association
Word association is a simple yet enjoyable brainstorming activity. Start with any one word and then ask a student to think of a word related to it and write it next to your original word. The next student must think of an associated word for the previous student’s answer.
Let’s say you start with the word water, an example might be like this –
Water – swim – sport – tired – bed – night – star – moon, and so on.
10 – Rebus puzzles
Rebus puzzles are great brainteasers that all ages enjoy. Divide your class into teams and draw 10 or more easy puzzles on the board. The first team to guess one of the rebus meanings gets a point. There are plenty of examples for you to copy on the free printable rebus puzzles page!
Play a quiz game on the whiteboard just like the TV show! You will need to prepare a list of five questions for each of your categories but it doesn’t take long. The key is to make the questions increasing difficult with the first question being the easiest and the fifth question being quite hard.
Once you have questions, all you need to do is draw a grid on the board. Across the top write the categories and on the left column write the value of the questions in points or money. This game works best in teams but make sure that individual students in teams take turns to choose and answer questions.
12 – Bomb Games
If you’ve ever used any PowerPoint bomb games, you know they are a hit! You can easily replicate them as whiteboard games by drawing a grid and numbering the boxes or by using the alphabet. Again you will need some pre-prepared questions, any topic or difficulty can be used. You also need to draw a key beforehand and decide where the bombs and rewards will be placed.
To make your key, write down the letters or numbers you will use on your grid. Next to each number put a number of points, a bomb or something else to be awarded for that square. You might have a flower which could be +3 points, a rainbow +7, some dynamite -3, a big bomb -5, a gun (take 3 points from another team, a bird (switch points with another team). You can use whatever you like!
Once everything is ready, ask a student or a team a question. If they answer correctly, they get to choose a square on the board. With your key in hand, you erase the square’s number and write or draw what is on your key. Finally, award the points or whatever it may be to the team.
13 – Family Feud
Family Feud seems to be the most popular of all the whiteboard games. It is based on the TV game show from America. It does take a little preparation but it is totally worth it as all classes love it.
You need to prepare some lists of 5 to 10 words in categories. For example, if your category is zoo animals you might have a list of monkey, crocodile, zebra, lion, hippo, tiger, giraffe, and panda. Do not show the class the list.
Divide your class into pairs or small groups and write – 8 Zoo Animals on the board. Next, Students must write down 8 animals on a piece of paper with a time limit of only a few minutes. Once time is up, you write your 8 animals on the board. For each word that a team wrote, they get a point. Play the game over several rounds and tally up the winner at the end. For a more in-depth article with printable questions and answers, check out the Family Feud for the classroom page.
14 – Hot Seat
Hot seat is a very easy game that can get quite raucous. Place a chair in front of the whiteboard facing away from it so whoever sits in the chair can’t see the board. Get a student to come and sit in the chair. Behind the student write a word on the board. The rest of the class must describe the word without actually saying it. The student in the hot seat chair must listen and guess the word. Once they answer correctly, get them to choose another student to replace them in the chair.
This game also works really well with 2 or 3 chairs, where the first person to guess the word wins. You may need to mention that spelling and body language is not allowed.
15 – Taboo
Taboo is just like hot seat above but you add a few extra words that cannot be said (taboo words). For example, if the word to be guessed is – monkey, your taboo words might be banana and tree. It makes the activity much more challenging and useful for advanced classes. For printable cards for this game to use as ideas check out the Taboo ESL game page.
16 – Word Wheels
These vocabulary puzzles are great for English learners and are very easy to draw on a whiteboard. With your class in teams, award a point for each word a team creates. You can also give higher scores for longer words. You can also set your teams a time limit and let them write their answers on paper.
Check out the ESL vault free word wheel puzzles printables for more detailed instructions and puzzles with answers you can use. The puzzles were designed as worksheets but can be used just effectively as whiteboard games for kids or adults