Throwing a ball in the classroom

Sometimes the simple things really are very effective. I always have a ball in my bag of classroom tricks. I do the following activities with Primary learners, teens, University students and adult learners.

Get students standing in a circle.

Start the game by nominating a lexical set e.g. with YLs it can be animals or colours, teens jobs or adjectives to describe people.

I throw the ball to the first student, who says an animal, they then throw the ball to any other student (anyone, not necessarily the one standing next to them), who has to say a different animal, they must be no repetition (this encourages students to listen to each other and try to remember what was said = focus/concentration).

At higher levels the game can be alphabetical, making it more challenging. The first student says ANT, the second BEAR etc.


Standing up helps students wake up and stretch and breathe

The focus is on the ball and reduces stress (if the ball drops, it’s merely funny)

The next person is randomly chosen, which encourages everyone to pay attention

Students look at each other and engage

For younger students, motor skills are also being practised

Makes a great warmer reviewing last lesson’s language

Breaks up a long lesson

At the end of a lesson, students can share what they learnt/enjoyed in the lesson

Also, this can be used in the first lesson of a school cycle to learn names e.g. Hello my name is Sam and I like playing soccer, Hello, Sam. I’m Helen and I like hot dogs. After making sure all students have had a go, check if they remember each other’s names.

NB – I always allow students to help each other – it’s not a test, but language practice and students’ confidence needs to be built up not destroyed

What else?


Teacher can ask a question e.g. What did you have for breakfast? First student to catch the ball answers, then asks the person they throw the ball to.

Further Q&A practice e.g. What’s your favourite….?

After drilling the question / answer, T can shout a key word e.g. colour / fruit / sport as students throw the ball and they have to change the question

Words can be added e.g. first person says My cat is black. Next one has to say My cat is black and fast. They keep adding adjectives as long as they can keep going. 

Higher levels: 

T can ask questions like:

What did you do yesterday evening? What TV programmes did you watch at the weekend? What do you want to do in the summer holidays?

These can practise previously taught language or lead-in to that day’s lesson.

Before writing

e.g. an essay on the advantages and disadvantages of technology

Start with advantages, each catcher explains an advantage, until they run out of ideas, they do disadvantages (another way of brainstorming) 


e.g. Second conditional story

Teacher starts – If I won the lottery, I’d buy an airplane. 

T throws ball to student one, who picks up with – If I bought an airplane, I’d fly to Mexico.

Next student has to start – If I flew to Mexico etc.

I hope that gives you some ideas to start. Now, go find that ball…