| | | | | |

Great Icebreaker Games for Primary School ESL Learners

In the lively world of primary school ESL (English as a Second Language) classrooms, the right icebreaker games can transform the learning experience.

These games are crucial not just for warming up young minds but also for bridging cultural gaps, encouraging social interaction, and making language learning a joyous journey.

Here’s a look at some engaging icebreaker games that can be a hit in any primary school ESL setting.

Great ESL icebreaker games for Primary and grade school students

ESL Icebreaker Games for Primary and Grade School Students

We have 12 great icebreaker games for primary and grade school students in the list below, though of course they can be used for any classroom with a little adaptation.

We have a link to a page for each game so you can copy/paste or download the full instructions and description just click the image on each one to get there.

We hope these icebreaker games are useful to you don’t forget to check out our other icebreakers for adults, primary and secondary school as well. You can see them in the list right below.

Game 1: Word Train

  • Description: A fantastic game to boost vocabulary, ‘Word Train’ involves students forming a chain of words. One student says a word related to a theme, and the next student says a word that starts with the last letter of the previous word.
  • Benefits: This game is excellent for expanding vocabulary and encouraging creative, associative thinking. It’s a playful way to introduce new words and concepts.
  • Playing Time: 10-15 minutes.

Game 2: Story Circle

  • Description: Each student contributes a sentence to create a story. This game can start with a teacher-provided prompt, and then each child adds their twist.
  • Benefits: It enhances storytelling skills, fosters imagination, and improves listening skills as students build on each other’s ideas.
  • Playing Time: 15-20 minutes.

Game 3: Simon Says

  • Description: An all-time favorite, “Simon Says,” is perfect for young learners. The teacher gives commands, and students only follow them if they start with “Simon says.”
  • Benefits: This game teaches common verbs and actions, enhances listening skills, and integrates physical activity, making language learning more dynamic.
  • Playing Time: 10-15 minutes.

Game 4: Charades with a Twist

  • Description: Adapted for young learners, this version of charades uses categories like animals or actions. Students act out without speaking, and classmates guess the word.
  • Benefits: It promotes active participation, enhances non-verbal communication skills, and encourages creative expression.
  • Playing Time: 15-20 minutes.

Game 5: Alphabet Freeze

  • Description: As music plays, students dance around. When the music stops, they freeze in the shape of a letter called out by the teacher.
  • Benefits: This game helps in letter recognition, combines physical activity with learning, and encourages creative expression.
  • Playing Time: 10-15 minutes.

Game 6: Emoji Feelings

  • Description: In this game, students use emoji flashcards to express or talk about different feelings and emotions. They can either mimic the emoji or use it as a prompt to speak about a time they felt that way.
  • Benefits: This activity is great for teaching emotional vocabulary and encourages students to express themselves, enhancing both language skills and emotional intelligence.
  • Playing Time: 10-15 minutes.

Game 7: Mystery Word

  • Description: A simplified version of the classic word-guessing game. One student thinks of a word, and others ask yes/no questions to guess it. The word should be within the students’ vocabulary range.
  • Benefits: Develops logical thinking and questioning skills. It’s also a fun way to review and learn new vocabulary.
  • Playing Time: 15-20 minutes.

Game 8: Find Someone Who

  • Description: Students are given a sheet with different criteria (e.g., “find someone who has a pet”). They must then talk to their classmates to complete the sheet.
  • Benefits: Encourages students to interact, ask questions, and practice speaking and listening in English.
  • Playing Time: 15-20 minutes.

Game 9: Color Match

  • Description: Students are given colored cards and tasked with finding objects in the classroom that match their card’s color.
  • Benefits: This game is excellent for teaching colors and object vocabulary. It also encourages observation skills and exploration.
  • Playing Time: 15-20 minutes.

Game 10: Musical Words

  • Description: Like musical chairs, but when the music stops, students must find and stand on a word placed on the floor, then use it in a sentence.
  • Benefits: Integrates movement with language learning, enhancing vocabulary and sentence formation in a fun, dynamic way.
  • Playing Time: 20-25 minutes.

Game 11: Weather Report

  • Description: Students take on the role of weather reporters, giving a brief weather forecast for different parts of the world. This can be based on real or imaginary weather conditions.
  • Benefits: This game introduces students to weather-related vocabulary and geographical knowledge. It also encourages public speaking and imaginative thinking.
  • Playing Time: 15-20 minutes.

Game 12: Ball Toss Name Game

  • Description: In this simple yet effective game, students sit in a circle and toss a soft ball to each other. When catching the ball, the student says their name and one of their favorite things.
  • Benefits: The game aids in memorization of classmates’ names and encourages sharing personal information, which helps build a supportive and friendly classroom environment.
  • Playing Time: 10-15 minutes.


Icebreaker games are an indispensable part of the primary school ESL classroom. They bring a burst of energy and fun to language learning, helping young students feel more comfortable and engaged.

These games are not just about warming up or breaking the ice; they are critical tools for language development, social interaction, and building a sense of community among young learners.

With these activities, teachers can create a dynamic and inclusive atmosphere that fosters both linguistic and personal growth.

Incorporating these games into the teaching routine can make the ESL learning experience more dynamic, interactive, and enjoyable for students.

They offer a playful yet purposeful way to dive into language learning, ensuring that the students’ first steps in acquiring English are filled with laughter, collaboration, and creativity.

What to do now?

Teachers are encouraged to bring these icebreaker games into their classrooms, adapting them to fit the unique dynamics and language levels of their students.

By doing so, they can transform their ESL teaching into an enriching experience that students will look forward to each day. It’s about making language learning not just educational but also exciting and memorable.


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.

Similar Posts

Always welcome thoughts and comments, new blogs can be lonely!!