On Board Games in the Classroom

Using board games in the classroom is a fun and eng
aging way of reviewing or practising
language communicatively. There are many board gam
es you can create with your learners
using blank board game templates. These can be phot
ocopied and enlarged to A3 size.
You can either prepare the materials yourself or ge
t learners to prepare them for you
(writing and using English of course!) Below are a
couple of suggestions, they are obviously
adaptable between levels and ages. Games can be use
d to practice collocations, idioms,
tenses etc. Remember the learners must have the nec
essary language to play the game and
make sure the games do not go on for too long. It i
s not always important to finish the game
if the learners are moving on to a worthwhile actitivity.
Level: Elementary
1 dice and counters for players
General review
Write a verb in every odd numbered space and a noun
in every even numbered space (e.g.
walk; chair; eat; pen) at every sixth space write a
question word (Why? Who? When?
Which? How? etc)
Learners roll the dice and move according to the nu
mbers indicated. When a learner lands
on a square they have to make a sentence using the
verb or noun which is true about them.
If they land on a question square they have to ask
a question for all the other learners to
To make the game harder set time limits for respons
es or make learners miss a turn / move
back two spaces if they cannot make a sentence.
Have you ever..?
Level: Intermediate
1 dice and counters for players
Practice of present perfect simple
Simply write various ‘experiences’ around the board
(e.g. ride / motorcycle? write / poem?)
– Learners roll the dice and wherever they land the
y ask the learner next to them a question
by putting the verb in the correct form (e.g. Have
you ever ridden a motorcycle?) Encourage
learners to ask each other follow-on questions (E.g
. Where did you ride it? etc).
Activities ‘Mime’ field
Level: Elementary to Intermediate
1 dice and counters for players
Action verbs
Make several ‘mime’ cards with ‘actions’ on one sid
e. On the game board write ‘mime’ on
every fourth square. On the remaining blank squares
write a selection of place names
(home; countryside; museum) and prepositions (on, a
t, in etc.). Place the mime cards face
down. When a player lands on a place name they have
to say what they do at / in / on that
place (e.g. at the beach – I sunbathe; on the train
– I read my book). When they land on a
preposition square they have to think of a place an
d an action (e.g. at – at the cinema I
watch films). If they land on the mime square they
take a card and have to mime the action
for the rest of the group (e.g. painting; running).
The first learner to accurately guess what
the action is and where it is happening can move fo
rward one space.
Level: Upper Intermediate
1 dice and counters for players
Language review
Take 45 words from units recently covered with lear
ners and write these on slips of paper or
cards and shuffle. Place them face down. On the gam
e board randomly write in the
Draw it
Make a sentence
Describe it
Mime it
Put the learners into two teams (alternatively they
can play individually). Learners roll the
dice and take a secret word card. If they land on ‘
Draw it’ they have to draw the word and
elicit that from their partners; if they land on ‘M
ake a sentence’ they have to say a sentence
using that word; if they land on ‘describe it’ they
have to give oral clues to elicit the word
from their partners; if they land on ‘mime it’ they
have to mime the word and elicit that
from their partners.
Level: All
1 dice and counters for players
Stress patterns
Rather than writing words on the board write simple
stress patterns (E.g.
When a learner lands on a square they have to think
of a word that matches the stress
pattern. Words can only be used once. Make sure lea
rners know the stress patterns are
from words or a topic they have studied recently.
Sophia McMillan
Training Manager/TESOL Course Director
Shane Training Centre, Shane Corporation

Board Games help Bored Teachers reach Students

High school students huddle around a table, brows furrowed, playing a co-operative First World War board game called The Grizzled. One plays the final card, and another lets out a triumphant shout. After 12 attempts, the students have finally beaten the game.

“We spent a whole week just trying to play it over and over again – we couldn’t beat it,” said Grade 12 student Jacob Lycan. But the students’ perseverance paid off.

Read More

To How to teach English in Japan (New)

To Kevin`s Guest Houses

To I am Hakone

To Kevin`s English Schools

Budget Wargaming

This hobby can be very expensive to say the least. Especially if you play GW Games. How can we keep costs down for both table top miniatures Games and board wargames?

Self made model of Mount Fuji, total cost: $3.00

A good friend pointed out that by buying figures at eBay or other auctions, the figs are only cheap if they ship from your country.

The gentleman at the Budgethammer Blog recommended a search like this for GW figures in order to get the best deals:

warhammer -bowl -rings -white -epic

He says:

“Firstly, it cancels out a number of words that tend to clog up Warhammer searches that I’m not personally interested in. “-bowl” gets rid of any Blood Bowl minis (I love Blood Bowl, don’t get me wrong, but I don’t like the old GW models and there’s a surprising amount of it on eBay), without hiding any Blood Angels stuff. “-rings” hide Lord of the Rings stuff, again of which there is a lot of. “-white” hides the Warhammer magazine, White Dwarf, and “-epic” hides all the Epic 40,000 stuff.
The search is set to ignore all Auctions and only display Buy It Now options. It hides all Business accounts/shops, only displaying Private sellers. Lastly, it orders it by Most Recently Listed.”

Ian Dickie in his book, “Wargaming on a Budget,” discusses things like:

“He offers sound practical advice on buying and building your armies (should you opt for metal, plastic, or even card, and in which scale?), gaming tables, terrain, buildings and even storage solutions. As well as purely financial constraints, Iain Dickie also recognizes the fact that available space is another major restriction for many gamers and tackles this issue too. Now you’ve got no excuse not to get wargaming!”

Photo: I played Captain Morgan in a promotion in Canada.

Indeed choosing plastic over metal, or a smaller scale such as 2mm over 28mm, both of these will save you money.

Irregular Miniatures is one of the cheapest if not the cheapest producer of metal miniatures. GW is perhaps the most expensive. Going for 20 mm soft plastic miniatures makes our hobby very cheap indeed.

The Wargamer online magazine has more ideas on keeping wargame costs down.


There`s a plethora of free rules available for miniatures play from all periods.  Just do a web search for “free wargame rules,”  or “free table top miniatures rules,” something like that.  Many rule sets have been a labour of love by their author, and have been play tested over many years with friends and relatives.  Some of the free rules are actually better than the rules which are rushed out to make publishing deadlines by the major companies.  And frankly, the rules are what make or break the game.

Need a Budget Place to Stay in Japan?

To How to teach English in Japan (New)

To I am Hakone

To Kevin`s English Schools



AI for Solo War games

AI for Solo War games

I have often espoused the opinion to much scoffing, that all table top war-games be they with figures or board war games, should include a solitaire system with good AI.   Most in the industry or simply people like me who love to play games usually disagreed.

Thankfully, these days, there are game designers, who share my feeling – Dan Versen and others feel the same way and back that up by including solo rules and challenging solo opponents.


I have often thought: Would it be possible to make a solo AI for board war gamers, that was not only generic enough that it could be used with most games, but would be challenging too.

Do any of you know of such a system?

I would love to hear from you in the comments section  below.  Is there some kind of computer software that we could use?


Years and years ago, I used to convert many of my board war games to the computer using the scenario editor of various computer war games I had.  Tanks was one of them,and Empire Deluxe was another.  The AI of the latter was not very good, so unless you played the vastly weaker side, it made for a boring game.

I would love to hear your comments below!

Visiting Japan? Check out the guests houses that are loaded with games!

To How to teach English in Japan (New)

To Kevin`s Guest Houses

To I am Hakone

To Kevin`s English Schools

On Using Colonial Diplomacy in the ESL Classroom

Colonial Diplomacy is a game by the Avalon Hill Game Company, a game I have known and loved for many years.

I had often wondered: was it a game I could use in the ESL classroom?

I researched others who had used this game with mixed results.

One problem with its use, seemed to the use of L1 during the game, rather than English. Another problem seemed to be the passivity of some of the students.   Read More

Coming to Japan? Want to see Mount Fuji? Check out Kevin`s Guest Houses!

Would you like to Stay in a Canadian house in Japan?

Near Hakone, views of Mount Fuji, and near Only Yu Hot Spring!

And did we mention the reasonable price?

Romantic Fuji Views near Hot Spring

Minamiashigara-shi, Kanagawa-ken, Japan

Perfect romantic spot for couples. Our dream home! Stay in a Canadian house! 2 single beds. Much of the furniture and lights were imported. The house itself was made in Canada, then imported and bu…


To How to teach English in Japan (New)

To Kevin`s Guest Houses

To I am Hakone

To Kevin`s English Schools

Review of Settlers of Catan

A review of “Catan” (Settlers of Catan)

by Katsuya Michibata

It’s a board game. It’s made in the Federal Republic of Germany. Four players can play the game. All players aim to pioneer “Catan island”. First, all players build two houses and two roads on “Catan”. The phasing player throws the two dice. The sum of two dice’s numbers decides the resource produced. The players get the resources. Players can build a new house or a city or a new road from the resources. But if the sum of two dice’s number is seven, the robber appears. The robber steals player’s resources, and if a player has more than seven resources, players must throw away half the resources in hand. So, all players must notice the robber.
The game’s interesting thing is “negotiation”.
All players can negotiate with other players. It enables all players to exchange resources.

Read More