Must Have Games for ELLs

Must Have Games for ELLs

Students are more easily able to retain information when they are engaged and having fun. Games are a fun way to do both. Here are some great games to help your ELLs practice vocabulary and other language skills. Check out a few games for ELLs to add to your collection.

Must have games for ELLs

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This classic game is a simple way for students to practice new vocabulary. Students lay out cards face down. They take turns turning over two cards. If they are a match, then they get to keep that set. You can purchase pre-made sets, write down words from a books students are going to read, or have students match words with pictures.

Board Games

Board games are a fun way to practice questions. A simple way is to use task cards for a specific skill and match them up with a simple board game.

compare contrast spring task cards



Puzzles can be fun on their own. They are great practice for spelling, sentence building, and sequencing. I like using sets that have a picture for students to create at the same time.

spring sight word puzzles

Jenga/Stacking Blocks

Use the jenga pieces as another fun way for students to answer questions or read words. One way is to use a color version of the game. Have different questions connected to each color. Students answer the question or read a word and then can pull out the piece.


This set of games use a picture, word, or letter tiles.  All of the games have a card slider and a game board. It is a fun twist on the traditional bingo game. There are versions with pictures, sight words, and letter sounds. For letter sounds, consider adding a picture vocabulary chart to assist lower ELLs.  For higher ELLs, you might extend the game beyond the words included on the playing board.




Players wear a headband with a card on it. They ask the other players questions to try and guess what object is on their card. For ELLs, you can use the cards that come with the game or use your own pictures that connect to a unit they are learning about. Having example questions, having pictures of the possible answers, and not using the timer are ways to modify this for lower ELLs.

Story Cubes

Students use picture cubes to come up with a story. This is a simple way to practice creating a story and  parts of speech. The students can create a story on their own or work in a group.


More Great Materials for ELLs

If you are looking for more materials for ELLs, take a look at my recommendations of must have teaching materials for ELLs. I also have additional ideas for using games to build ELLs vocabulary.

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