Students of all ages benefit from frequent, varied practice using oral language. Rather than the drills of yesterday, elementary students learn more readily from integrated, relevant conversations with their peers and close adults. Luckily, speaking and listening are one of the easiest things to incorporate into daily play! From tongue twisters to storytelling tools, to board games, providing multiple opportunities for kids to converse will improve their overall language learning. Now, let's get them talking!
1. Tongue Twisters
Get those mouth muscles warmed up with traditional tongue twisters! Students can repeat alliterative phrases in a million silly ways. Invite students to write and share their own as a follow-up activity!
Learn more: Teaching Maddeness
2. Blank Comics
Comics with blank speech bubbles are great for getting students to infer, predict, and practice the rules of conversation. These provide a chance to practice what children would say before they run into scenarios in reality. Students can read them aloud for even more practice!
Learn more: Allison Fors
3. Describe It!
Using these great visuals as a guide, have students see how many senses they can use to describe an object! Integrating the five senses into vocabulary studies will help your students to more readily internalize the meaning of unfamiliar words.
Learn more: Home Speech Home
4. Giving the Weather Report
Integrate speaking and presentation skills into a weather unit and have children pretend to be meteorologists. Children will have the opportunity to practice related vocabulary and apply it to speak to a realistic scenario. Being able to talk about the weather will always come in handy in the conversation!
Learn more: Little Miss Hypothesis
5. Conversation Station
An oral language center you can adapt to any topic! Set up props, photos, books, or artifacts at a table to inspire conversation! Set a timer and have students practice both the skills of speaking and listening with a peer.
Learn more: Balanced Literacy Diet
6. Spin & Speak
This printable spinner will give your students the chance to share their important opinions! Sentence frames give even the most timid talkers a place to begin. This activity is great for helping your children to form connections as they discover all the things they have in common!
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7. The Storytelling Jar
A storytelling jar is a wonderful tool to fill those lulls in the day or to find a moment to connect with one another in a joyful way! Simply print or write your own story prompts, choose one from the jar, and let children's imaginations do the rest!
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8. Hot Potato
The classic game of hot potato has endless variations for encouraging students to practice their English language skills. Whoever ends up with the potato might have to define a vocabulary term, give directions, share an idea, or answer a question. You can even let the kids define the rules!
Learn more: ESL Speaking
9. Storytelling Baskets
Storytelling baskets are full of materials that children can use to retell or create their own stories. This can be used as a whole-class activity or completed with conversation partners as a center. This activity will quickly become a favorite for your little ones especially!
Learn more: The Imagination Tree
10. Story Stones
Similar to the storytelling basket, story stones are a fun activity for students that encourages them to create a narrative that they share aloud with classmates. As you create stones, you can target images towards retelling a particular fairytale, or provide a random assortment of characters and "props."
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11. Paper Bag Puppets
Creating paper bag puppets and putting on a puppet show is a great way to get your students talking as they play! Students will have to prepare scripts and engage in reciprocal conversation as they perform. Talking via a puppet can also reduce students' anxiety about public speaking!
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12. Name Your Fave
Have your students grab a die and play this conversational board game together! This activity is perfect for the beginning of the year as students are getting to know each other. For an additional challenge, have advanced learners generate a new list of topics to fill a game board!
Learn more: Literacy Minnesota
13. Guessing Games
Guessing games are perfect for practicing using adjectives to describe objects and for looking for shades of meaning across vocabulary terms. This fun activity for children is easily adapted to any topic or theme of study!
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This fun review game can help your children to practice vocabulary terms, parts of speech, verb tenses, or pretty much any language skill! Write terms on the board and allow teams to go head-to-head as they select the correct word by slapping it with their flyswatter!
Learn more: ESL Activities
15. Go Fishing
Use this printable as a classroom icebreaker for your students! Children will go "fishing" for a question to answer with a friend. Once children accomplish this list of questions, challenge intermediate students to create a new set of topics!
Learn more: ITTT
16. Who? What? Where?
This silly game for kids can easily become a part of your daily activities! Have your students choose one card from each of the three stacks: who, what, and where? Then, they will draw a picture depicting their selections. Their fellow students will have to guess what is happening!
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17. Chatterpix Kids
This versatile app provides students with open-ended opportunities to create! They simply take a photo of something, draw a mouth and add accessories to the picture, then record up to 30 seconds of audio. Chatterpix is perfect as an alternative form of assessment!
Learn more: Tech & Learning
18. Do Ink Green Screen
The Do Ink Green Screen app brings presentations to life! Children can record themselves reporting the weather at a meteorology studio, presenting on a planet from its surface, or sharing about a country from its capital! Do Ink can turn the physical classroom into any location!
Learn more: Do Ink
19. Silent Clips
Play scenes from familiar shows and movies for your students, but with no sound. Students can discuss what they saw, predict what might happen next, or create silly new conversations to take the place of the original. Silent clips are also great for practice with reading non-verbal cues.
Learn more: The Speech Bubble SLP
20. Board Games
A simple, low-prep class activity for beginners up to your most advanced students! Classic board games provide myriad opportunities to talk about strategy, rules, and negotiations. Some games, like Guess Who? and Pictionary, even require students to use describing words as part of the gameplay!
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21. Barrier Games
This fun matching game is great for even beginner students! Two children will sit opposite each other with matching backgrounds and a barrier between them. One student will place items on their picture, then give directions to their partner to make theirs match!
Learn more: Allison Fors
22. Simon Says
To target action verbs, teach students how to play Simon Says! "Simon" will have to use action words to give directions, which others will mimic with movement. This simple, multi-sensory activity will help students to integrate meanings for these terms, all while playing a fun game together!
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23. "I Spy" Mats
Adapt the childhood game of "I Spy" to focus on more specific themes using picture mats! This activity is great for helping young learners and ESL students to develop vocabulary and descriptive language skills. Get printable for easy lesson preparation or make your own!
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24. Painter's Tape Cover-Up
Cover up a puzzle or laminated picture with painter's tape to elicit learning in this silly activity! Students will have to explicitly tell you how to remove the pieces of tape, which encourages specificity of language, use of vocabulary terms, and problem-solving.
Learn more: Type B SLP
25. Visual Recipe Cards
Get cooking together with visual recipes! Encourage children to "read" the ingredients and directions using visual supports. Cooking activities help students with sequencing, transition words, and all-around confidence!
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26. All About Me Board Game
Get students chatting with one another in this no-prep/low-prep ESL speaking activity! Your students will roll a die, move to a space, and complete a sentence stem to share about themselves with a peer. This quick and easy activity can be done again and again as an opener!
Learn more: ITTT
27. Would You Rather?
Children will share their opinions on tricky topics during "Would You Rather?" From answering basic questions about likes and dislikes to higher-level questions about complex scenarios, children will learn so much about each other from this discussion activity!
Learn more: Mama Teaches
28. Role Play
As an activity for advanced learners, students can consider how they would handle a given scenario. For instance, prompts might ask students to practice asking for a refund, communicating about a medical issue, or purchasing a meal somewhere.
Learn more: ISL Collective