Public speaking is a life skill, so kids need to learn communication skills from a young age. From preschool to high school, practicing public speaking through games and activities makes speaking and listening fun. Kids will love these public speaking activities, many of which I have done in my own classroom.
These fun-filled speech activities are divided up by age group, but many are adaptable for any age. Here are 24 public speaking games to build those essential skills.
1. Silly Pictures
You can do this in a classroom or at home. Find a funny image to show the child (think a cow in a kitchen or flying cars), then ask the child to use his observation skills to explain what’s silly about the pictures.
Learn More: ASHA Org
2. What Am I?
Describe what you do with an item or items, and then have the child guess. For example, you might say, “we use this to color”, and the child might say pen, pencil, marker, crayon, etc.
Learn More: ASHA Org
3. Map It Out
Print out or draw a basic map. Choose a starting location on the map, then have the child describe how to get to another location on the map. As they give directions, move your finger or pencil to help the child visualize his directions.
Learn More: ASHA Org
4. Simon Says
The common activity, “Simon Says”, helps with both listening and speaking. The kids completing the actions have to listen, but you can also have a child be Simon, allowing him to practice leadership skills.
5. This or That?
Give kids a choice between 2 controversial topics and ask them to choose one. The key to this engaging game is requiring kids to explain why. Examples include cats or dogs, hot dogs or hamburgers, mountains or beach?
Learn More: Mama Duck
Elementary School Games
6. Roll Call Responses
Each day, as you call attendance, have students respond to an idea, fill-in-the-blank, or topic. For example, what’s your favorite movie? If I had all the money in the world, I would ____________, etc.
Learn More: Gunnison Extension Colostate
7. Mystery Box
Hide an object in a box so only the speaker can see it. Have the speaker describe the object to the class without saying what it is. The other kids must guess what the object is as fast as they can. You can adapt this for older kids by making the objects more obscure.
Learn More: ESL Activity
8. Imaginary Animal
Have a student describe an imaginary animal to the class. While the student describes the animal, have the entire audience draw the animal. Students can take turns describing. This is a great activity to teach both speaking and listening skills.
Learn More: The Classroom
9. Conversation Dice
For this activity, you need dice like these. Put students into small groups. Students will roll the dice and then discuss the topic that appears on the dice. It is helpful to set a time limit for the conversation and do this with different groups and multiple rounds.
10. Find Your Partner
Use pieces of paper to make several well-known pairs. For example, macaroni/cheese, Oreos/milk, peanut butter/ jelly, etc. Each paper should only have one piece of the pair. Then disperse the slips of paper so each student gets one. Students will then find their partner that completes the pair.
Learn More: Mom Junction
11. Rose, Thorn, and Bud
Play this game at the end of the school day or at dinner time. Each child will say her “rose”, the best part of the day, her “thorn”, the worst part of the day, and her “bud”, the thing she is looking forward to the most for the next day.
Learn More: Seattle’s Child
Middle School Games
12. Tie the Shoe
I challenge students to explain how to tie a shoe without using gestures. As they explain, the other students try to follow the directions to tie their own shoes. This is a great activity to practice oratory skills like using descriptive language and presenting a process.
13. I Can’t Believe That!
I have students practice saying “I can’t believe that” in different tones. I begin this activity by having students write down different tone words on slips of paper (ie sarcastic, funny, depressed). Then, I have students pick a tone out of a hat and say “I can’t believe that” in that tone.
14. I Went to the Market
Start by having the first students say, “I went to the market and bought chocolate”, then each subsequent student must repeat the previous items, then add their own. So the 5th student might say, “I went to the market and bought chocolate, bread, cheese, eggs, and milk”.
Learn More: Learn Podium School
Play the traditional game of Taboo or add a variation. This is a great impromptu game for vocabulary-building and review. I enjoy playing Taboo tournaments in my classroom with several groups competing against each other to win a prize.
Learn More: Edutopia
16. Role Playing Variations
Each student reads a well-known story, rhyme, poem, etc. (think “Mary Had A Little Lamb” or “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star”) in a predetermined voice, tone, or volume. Have roles prepared for students to draw out of a hat? Examples of roles include whisper, exasperated, queen, Matthew McConaughey, etc.
Learn More: Fluentu
17. Best Excuse
Create a situation where the students must make up an excuse. A good example is showing up to class late. Have the students present their made-up excuses to the class. The best excuse wins! This is a fun and engaging impromptu game.
Learn More: Charlie’s Lessons
High School Games
18. 30-Second Shakespeare
This hilarious game is great for a speech class or a class teaching a novel or play. The teacher assigns a scene or story to a group of students, and they have 30 seconds to act out the scene. In addition to improving public speaking and acting skills, this game also can be a great review tool.
Learn More: Now Spark Creativity
19. Sell It!
Begin by having a box of mundane items (think stapler, candy wrapper, clock, etc.). Have students pick an item from the box. Give them 2 minutes to prepare an impromptu sales pitch. Then have them pitch the item to the class. This game encourages the must-have public speaking skill of persuasion.
Learn More: Teach Wonderful
20. Inner-Outer Circle Discussions
Break your students into even groups. Have one group sit in the inner circle, while the other group sits in the outer circle around them. The inner circle participates in a student-led discussion about a topic or text, while the outer circle evaluates the discussion. Then, the groups switch.
Learn More: Read Write Think
21. Lying Games
Games like Balderdash, Malarkey, or 2 Truths and a Lie encourage creative thinking as well as close listening skills. Each game requires listeners to seek out the truthful statement, and speakers to create a lie or tell the truth (but make people think it’s a lie).
Learn More: ESL Games
Groups of students act out a scene in a given amount of time, then the next group performs the same scene in half the time, and the next group performs the same scene in have of that time, and so on. 90 seconds is a good time to start out, but you can make this as long or as short as you want.
Learn More: Session Lab
23. Boat Debate
Put students in small groups and assign them a role of a famous person. Tell them their boat is sinking and they have to kick one person off the boat to survive. Each student gives a 15-second persuasive speech as to why she should stay, then all the passengers vote someone off the boat. Do this for several rounds until only one passenger survives.
Learn More: United Ambassadors
24. The Moth Game
Use this story cards game in your classroom in small groups or with partners. This is a fantastic game to practice narrative structure. Each card has a topic or prompt. Students pick a card and tell a story related to the topic or prompt. You can also easily make this game if you’re creative!
Learn More: Amazon