ESL Icebreaker Game for Primary School: Word Train

“Word Train” is an engaging and educational icebreaker game that’s perfect for primary school ESL (English as a Second Language) students.

This game combines language learning with creative thinking, making it an excellent choice for young learners to expand their vocabulary and have fun at the same time.

Esl icebreakers word train

ESL Icebreaker –Word Train

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

(Of course you can adapt all of them for your classrooms and students as needed)

How to Play

  • Game Setup: The teacher selects a theme, such as animals, food, or colors, to guide the word choices.
  • Basic Rules: One student starts by saying a word related to the theme. The next student must say a word that begins with the last letter of the previous word. For example, if the first word is “cat,” the next word could be “tiger,” and so on.
  • Game Variations: To add variety, the teacher can change the theme each round or challenge students with themes related to recent lessons.

Educational Benefits

  • Enhances Vocabulary: Students learn new words within the theme, expanding their English vocabulary.
  • Encourages Associative Thinking: Making connections between words helps develop students’ associative and sequential thinking.
  • Fosters Creativity: Coming up with words that follow the rule encourages creative thinking and keeps students engaged.
  • Promotes Class Participation: Every student gets a turn, ensuring active involvement from the entire class.

Resources Needed

  • No Special Equipment Required: This game relies on the students’ knowledge and creativity.
  • Optional: Whiteboard and Marker: To write down the words as the chain progresses, which can be helpful for visual learners.

Playtime Guidelines

  • Duration: Typically, 10-15 minutes is enough to keep the game lively and engaging without overextending.
  • Pace: The game should proceed at a pace that allows all students time to think but keeps the momentum going.
  • Group Size: Adaptable to any class size. For larger classes, consider breaking into smaller groups.

Adapting to Different Learning Levels

  • For Beginners: Choose simple themes and allow more time for students to think of their word. The teacher can provide hints if necessary.
  • For Intermediate Students: Introduce more complex themes and encourage quicker responses.
  • For Advanced Students: Challenge them with abstract themes or introduce additional rules, like excluding certain common letters.


“Word Train” is a fantastic way to warm up the classroom and dive into language learning. It’s a game that balances education with enjoyment, making it a favorite among primary school ESL students.

By playing “Word Train,” students not only practice their English skills but also develop critical thinking and creativity, essential components of effective language learning.

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