Cooler Activities for Winding Down

Whether you want something soothing to calm students down at the end of class, or are looking for something to get noisy students under control, a cooler activity is just what you need.

Fun games and noisy tasks are all well and good, but sometimes what you need is an activity to help students wind down and relax. Take a look at our top recommended cooler activities for use in your ESL classroom.

(Of course, sometimes you may also need warm up activities, too.)

Simon Says

Typically, with only one person speaking at a time, this game is a great way to bring some calm and quiet to the end of your class. One person is the leader (or, ‘Simon’) who gives a command for students to copy. If the leader says ‘Simon says brush your teeth’ students need to pretend to brush their teeth. However, if the leader says ‘brush your teeth’ without the Simon Says at the beginning, students shouldn’t perform the action. Students are ‘out’ when they do the wrong thing at the wrong time. Demonstrate it yourself and then get the students to be the leader.

Sleeping Bears

Nobody wants to wake up a sleeping bear! This game is great with young learners and ensures a few minutes of peace and quiet. Students pretend that they are bears going into hibernation – they lie down on the floor, close their eyes, and stay as still as they can. The teacher then walks around and tries to see who is awake – the flicker of an eyelid, the twitch of a nose… or perhaps even more obvious movements for those that just can’t keep still! The winner is the student who stays ‘asleep’ the longest.

Picture Games

There are countless resources online for quiet coolers which you can use in your classroom. Games like ‘spot the difference’ or ‘odd one out’ are easy to find and bring to class. Either print out pictures for students to study in pairs, or project it onto a screen at the front for students to do together. Give the students a few minutes (in silence) to find what they’re looking for and feedback as a class.

Getting too cool? 9 More EFL Warm-up Activities to Start Your Class Off Right

Rumour Game / Broken Telephone

A popular playground game, students stand in a line and whisper a word or message from one end to the other. The idea is to pass on the message from student to student and see if it is the same at the end as it was at the beginning. However, as the message gets passed along the line it tends to alter, particularly if students are speaking quickly and with less than perfect pronunciation. Be prepared for some funny final sentences!

Drawing Dictation

Whatever vocabulary you’ve been studying in class, you can review it with a quiet drawing dictation. Students listen and draw as directed, giving them a chance to remember what you’ve learnt in class as well as to cool down after a vibrant lesson. A fun variation is drawing games where you draw part of the picture and then pass it onto another student – for example, drawing the head of an animal and then passing it on for another student to draw the body, the legs and the feet. This can produce some really funny pictures and is great for eliciting language.

Want more like this? Visit our Teaching Tips blog.

About the Author

Celia Jenkins is a freelance writer and TEFL-trained English teacher who spent five years teaching in Asia. She specialises in travel writing and writing for children, and has a penchant for knitting. Celia is the author of Knitted Sushi (easy knitting patterns for beginners) and Ben and Maki – Let’s be Friends (an English/Japanese bilingual picture book). To contact Celia about freelancing work, check out her Upwork profile or contact Celia through her website.


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