A five-minute primary game where everyone's a winner

A great game for primary learners from Katherine Bilsbourough that's perfect for mixed ability classes, and one where everyone's a winner.

The attention span of a primary-aged learner is short, so it’s always a good idea to have a couple of five-minute activities up your sleeve that you can pull out at intervals during the lesson. Use them to break up a longer task or to change the pace between activities. This is one of my favourite, tried-and-tested activities that never fails. Not only is it a perfect way to recycle vocabulary, it’s also a great opportunity to reward children’s efforts so that every single child is a winner.

Word, words, words!

This is a traditional word game that works well with children of all ages and is particularly popular with primary classes. You might have heard of the version called Constantinople. I’ll come back to this later.


Write a long word or a short phrase on the board. For example: Harry loves singing. Ask the children to use the letters to make as many new words as possible. Explain that they can only use each letter once (unless it is repeated in the word or sentence) and they can’t add any extra letters.

Give children a limited time for this part. For example, two minutes. Then ask them to stop writing.

Ask children to count their words and then award points and bonus points (you decide how many) for the following.:

  • The most words
  • The longest word
  • The shortest word
  • The most unusual word - you can be the judge
  • A/An (animal) word – you can change the category (seal)
  • A word that is on the classroom wall
  • A word that begins and ends with the same letter (gong)
  • Two words that are opposites (Yes/No)
  • A guessed word that actually exists! (Children can use a dictionary to check)
  • Two words that rhyme (ray, say)
  • A person’s name
  • A word with ‘g’ in the middle – you can choose the letter (age)

By creating special categories for bonus points, you can make sure every child wins points and it isn’t the same few stronger students who end up with most points.

As your learners learn the rules to the game, they’ll probably ask to play it again and again. Mine did! You can ask them to suggest the long words or short sentences. You can also use the activity as an enjoyable homework task, perhaps asking learners to record their answers as an audio so that they get extra speaking practice. If you think of any other ideas or variations, let us know.

How many words do you think can be made from the letters in Constantinople? Have a wild guess. I looked it up when I started writing this blog post: 1,802! If you don’t believe me, look it up!

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Submitted by Oksana Krestina on Thu, 01/13/2022 - 08:00


I like playing different games with my students.This game is interesting

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