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ESL Icebreaker Game for Kindergarten: Musical Chairs with a Twist

“Musical Chairs with a Twist” is a lively and engaging game tailored for kindergarten students in ESL (English as a Second Language) classrooms.

This game takes the classic fun of musical chairs and infuses it with a language-learning element, making it an excellent tool for teaching English in an active and enjoyable way.

It’s designed to combine physical movement with basic language practice, providing young learners with an interactive approach to developing their English skills.

kindergartens esl icebreakers musical chairs

Kindergarten Icebreaker – Musical Chairs – with a twist

We have loads of icebreaker games here on the site for all ages, you can check out the full list for kindergarten on the link directly below but we also have icebreakers for adults, primary and high school here which you can check out as well.

How to Play

  • Game Setup: Arrange chairs in a circle (one fewer than the number of children) with the seats facing outward. Prepare music that can be started and stopped easily.
  • Basic Rules: Children walk around the chairs while music plays. When the music stops, each child must quickly find a chair to sit on. The twist comes into play here: before sitting down, each child must answer a simple English question or say a word related to a theme (e.g., colors, animals, numbers).
  • Game Variations: To keep the game inclusive and fun for all, instead of removing a chair after each round, keep all the chairs and focus on the language learning aspect. Change the types of questions or themes in each round to cover different vocabulary areas.

Educational Benefits

  • Encourages Active Listening: Children need to listen not only for when the music stops but also to understand and respond to the English questions asked.
  • Practices Basic Language Responses: Responding to questions or saying specific words in English reinforces vocabulary and sentence structure.
  • Promotes Physical Activity: The game involves movement, which is essential for young children’s physical development and caters to kinesthetic learners.
  • Enhances Quick Thinking: Children are encouraged to think and respond quickly, fostering cognitive development alongside language learning.

Resources Needed

  • Chairs: Enough for each child minus one.
  • Music Playback Equipment: A device to play and pause music as needed.
  • List of Questions or Words: Prepared by the teacher, tailored to the children’s language level and the lesson’s theme.

Playtime Guidelines

  • Duration: Ideal playtime is 15-20 minutes, which can be adjusted to fit the class schedule and maintain children’s interest.
  • Pace: Keep the game lively and ensure that each round is quick to keep children engaged and focused.
  • Group Size: Suitable for small to medium-sized groups, ensuring every child gets a turn to respond.

Adapting to Different Learning Levels

  • For Beginners: Use simple questions or words, and allow children to repeat or mimic the teacher if they are unsure.
  • For More Advanced Learners: Introduce more complex questions or use the game to reinforce recently learned vocabulary or grammatical structures.


Musical Chairs with a Twist” is an innovative ESL icebreaker game that effectively blends physical activity with language learning.

By participating in this game, kindergarten students not only enjoy the thrill of the classic musical chairs game but also practice and reinforce their emerging English skills in a supportive, fun-filled environment.

This game demonstrates that language learning for young children can be a holistic experience, engaging both the mind and the body in the joyful pursuit of knowledge.

I have been a teacher of English for over 15 years, in that time i made hundreds and thousands of resources and learnt so much i think its worth sharing. Hopefully to help teachers and parents around the world.

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