ESL Icebreaker: Human Spelling

ESL Icebreaker: Human Spelling

Human Spelling is a fun icebreaker activity that is a great class introduction activity for young learners, teens and even adults. In this activity, students are put into teams and given a clue. First they must work out what word the clue is and then spell the word using only their bodies. This activity is great for new groups or groups who have been together before.

Activity time:
2 minutes per word (approx)
Materials required: Clues and some space
Level: All levels young learners 10+ 


  1. Divide the your class into small groups.
  2. The teacher then gives each group a crossword style clue to a target word. For example for young learners a clue for ‘elephant’ would be ‘Animal with a trunk’. With higher level learners a more complicated clue could be used. For example, ‘A tusked mammal’.
  3. After the groups have figured out the clue they must spell out the word using their bodies to create the letters. This can be done standing or lying down.
  4. Every member of the team must be used to create the word.
  5. The first team to correctly spell the word using their bodies is the winner and gets a point.
  6. See below for a list of clues from different categories.
  7. Enjoy and have fun.

The teacher needs to know the numbers of people to decide on the words. The number of letters in a word doesn’t have to match the number of people in a group.

Possible clues and words

Clue Word Difficulty
Another word for exam. Test Easy
I _____ swimming. Love Easy
A big fruit you eat during the summer? Watermelon Easy
The month at the end of the summer. August Easy
Not at all difficulty. Easy Easy
I go __ school. To Easy
Who teaches the class? Teacher Easy
Pencil and ________. Rubber Easy
A fruit and a colour. Orange Easy
Large African animal. Elephant Easy
An extremely tall person. Giant Moderate
Enjoyment or amusing. Fun Difficult
Not in need of a diet. Slim Moderate

More ESL Ice Breakers
Discover more first class activities for kids, teens and adults.

Dead or Alive – A simple first class speaking activity for teens and adults.

Numbers in my Life – A simple first class activity where students speak about important numbers in their lives.

5 First Day Activities – Five first class activities for young learners, teens and adults.

ESL Vocabulary Fortunes – an online game for teens and adults that is a great way to practice vocabulary on many topics.

ESL Creativity Activity –  a simple creativity activity to get students thinking

Find more ESL Games for teens and adults here

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