Boredom buster

Boredom buster

Fun and easy ESL game This activity is always a great way to give ESL students a break from the book and liven them up if they are falling asleep or even bored! There are many different five minute games you can use with a ball. Here I’ll be talking about one in particular that is a great activity for practicing lexical sets of vocabulary.

Activity Time:  2-5 minutes a round
Materials required: A soft ball
Number of students: More than two
Skills practiced: Listening, speaking and Vocabulary.
Level: All levels

Method A simple game I play is “Bomb”. When introducing this game for the first time I usually show the class the ball and ask them “what is it?” they of course respond that it is a ball and then I tell them “No it is a bomb!” I divide the class into two groups or more depending on the class size. I put 2 minutes or more on a timer. Then I give them a category such as animals for young learners and when they get the ball they have to say an animal and pass the ball to the other team. No words can be repeated. So they have to keep the ball until they answer. They have to keep the ball away from their team because when the timer runs out, whatever team is holding the bomb loses the point.

Category suggestions: 

Young learners:
Items in the classroom
Buildings (i.e Bank, Cinema etc)
Jobs (Teacher, policeman etc)
Fruit Etc

Things small enough to fit in a matchbox
Things you would find in a car
Things you would find in the newspaper
Adjectives, verbs and nouns asked randomly by the teacher.
Things you would find in a sports centre etc

With this game you can cover any area of the ESL course book or any random things to make them think. This game is always enjoyed by all ages and a great way to develop quick thinking in English.


  1. Dianne Parker

    Everything else makes sense to me about this (flexible and creative and active) game EXCEPT calling the ball a “Bomb!” It just seems to me ridiculous to label a ball a “bomb” when that is what we do NOT want in our schools, when some students may have been exposed to bombings (we actually have several new students in ESL classrooms in our school that have recently immigrated with their families for work with a company in town and this is the children’s very first formal education setting!). Calling it a “hot potato” or some other “hot” item you wouldn’t want to hold or stand next to would only seem more appropriate. Thank you for the idea starters!

    • Thank you for the comment Diane. I agree, as teachers we should ensure all our activities are sensitive to our students’ culture and needs.
      Thanks again,

    • alex white

      I think the key here is to just use a bit of common sense, not ALL children have been exposed to bombings.

    • I see you’ve got a point there. But there’s no point in getting mad at the person who’s suggested it.
      Just adapt it and call it whatever you like.
      Be happy! Life is short!

    • bomb games can really activate students interest. there are plenty of ways to vary them too , students know it’s not a real bomb and there is no negative connotation to it.

  2. alex white

    My mum was actually killed by a hot potato

  3. TeacherErnest

    To make the game more exciting, especially with teenagers, the teacher can set the countdown longer or shorter at random. From 20 seconds to 120.

  4. I have a small cooking timer that ticks and rings when the time runs out. I put it in a small box and call it a bomb to get the students moving with the activity. Otherwise they just stand there holding it and looking at each other waiting for someone to answer for them.

    • Thats a good idea to motivate them. Having them in teams also adds a competitive element to it. That way they can help each other in their teams if you have some weak students. It reduces the stress and helps them participate.

Leave a Reply


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.