TEFL Game: Tower Race

Tower Race

For this game, you’ll need a whiteboard, and two teams.

The first thing you need to do is draw a tiered tower on the whiteboard, with boxes for each tier. Something like the one shown in the image above.

In each box, write a prompt, such as “A five letter verb” or “An animal”. The prompts you put really depend on the level of your class. What’s great about this game is how flexible it is for the class. It even works with adults.

Five is a good amount of tiers, but you can do more if you want, or if your whiteboard has the space.

At the top of the tower, put a flag, and write a random letter inside. The students will need to write words to match the prompts, which start with that letter.

For example, if the letter is “A” and the first prompt is “A verb”, the students will need to write something like “Ask”.

The team that completes all tiers first wins.

General Gameplay

It’s usually best to have the students stand either side of the tower and write the words next to it. This allows the whole class to see their progress, and also adds to the “race” element. If you’re doing it as a team game, a good method is to have one student from each time write one tier, before handing the marker to the next student in their team.

This “Relay” system can much more exciting, but it can also get out of hand quickly if students start rushing up to the board to help their teammate write the correct word.

You should definitely allow/encourage teammates to call out words and help spell them, as this gets maximum involvement. Try to match the tower’s height to the number of players in each team so that everyone gets a turn, but if this isn’t possible, you could have several towers, or play the game several times.

To choose the letter which is written in the flag, either you do it yourself, or you have students paper-scissor-stone and the winner gets to choose. You can also let teams take it in turns.

Depending on the ability of the students, you can let them use their textbooks to help them think of words, or give them some “preparation” time between choosing the letter and starting the race.

Here are some good ideas to put as prompts.

Verbs, nouns, animals, sports, countries, 5-letter words (adjustable for class ability), finishing a sentence (Such as “I like…”), adjectives, adverbs, vocabulary sets (toys for example).

Additional Notes And Tips

It’s better to avoid certain letters that don’t have a wide variety of words that you can use. Things like W or X can be almost impossible.

It’s also important to make sure the students don’t write a tier until the lower tier has been filled out. The whole point is that they need to “ascend” the tower, so they can’t jump from the first tier to the 5th to buy themselves thinking time.

It’s surprising how popular this game is with classes of all ages. It doesn’t take a lot of setting up or understanding, it’s great for reviewing vocabulary and spelling, it’s exciting, and it’s one of the most “universal” games out there. Once you’ve got this in your arsenal, you’ll end up using it all day.