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Kidnap Game

      1. How to Play
      2. Language ideas to use with this game           
      3. Materials for you to use with this game         
      4. Tell me what you think
Category:    Speaking
Group size:    Any class size including very large classes
Level:        Beginners to intermediate
Materials:    Children need pencil and paper
Age:        5 to 12.  Playable by teens & adults
Pace:        Wake up - Fun while being highly controlled
This game is useful for speaking practise of any target
structure and for reinforcing vocabulary.  It is important
that you have either new vocabulary or a new target
structure - but not both.  One thing at least must be
revision, and the other thing must already have been
introduced using some listening games. (See my book of
games for plenty of these).
FIRST - this game KIDNAP is quite complicated - I think it
is my most complicated game!!

So here is a simplified version to try out first:
Here's a simplified version:
Give out one picture per student - use a selection of pics
of vocab that you want to revise.  Say "Go".  The students
pass their pics to one another either randomly swapping
them or passing them in a structure way around the class
(quite a good idea for maintaining order).

Now pull out one of those same pics out of a hat and say
"stop".  Call out the word you have - all the students
holding that picture are taken hostage and have to do a fun
forfeit to be released.

Don't make people out because that means you have students
not participating.

You can vary this by having just three pics passed at one
go - this makes it less likely that you will pull one of
those out of your hat.

For language students can say the vocab on the picture as
they pass it or say a short sentence containing the vocab
word according to what you want to practise.

Now for the full version of KIDNAP

This game is hard to explain if you cannot speak the native language and your students understand no English.    To ensure the game works the first time you use it play just passing pictures as described in the section 'The play'.  When students successfully complete that part of the game add in the 'kidnap' papers, as described below.  That breaks the learning of the game up into two simple stages.  Teachers have found that children absolutely love this game and it is worth learning.

Divide the class into teams and draw or stick up simple pictures of the vocabulary you would like to use on the board.  Tell each child to copy one of these pictures and make sure that all the pictures are being drawn more or less equally.  One way to do this is to number the pictures on the board and then count round the children.  The children draw the picture their number corresponds to.  Children then write their team name or letter on the picture.

In this game it is OK if the teams are not exactly even.

Use words instead of pictures if you are practising a sentence with a target structure, but if you are working on vocabulary pictures are much more effective. 

While children are drawing write out the team names or letters in a vertical column on the board and allocate nine lives to each team horizontally. Each time a team loses a life in the game you will rub one off the board.

By now each student has a piece of paper with a picture on it.  Make sure students have written their team name or letter on the paper.  Ask students to each take a second piece of paper and one pupil from each team only draws a square on it, pressing lightly so the pencil line does not show through the paper.  The other pupils leave their paper blank.  Everyone now folds this second piece of paper in half.

Now all students pass the folded papers around until no one knows who has the papers with the square on.  Your pupils look secretly at their folded paper to see if they have the square, and don't tell anyone if they do.

Now you are ready to play.  Call out one of the words such as "bananas".  All those with a banana picture hold up their hands.  Pick one and that person stands up and is the collector of all the banana pictures.  Do the same for another picture, such as milk.  You now have two students standing, one who will collect in all the bananas and the other all the milk.

You now give the word or sentence that is to be repeated on passing a picture.  A picture can only be passed when this word or phrase is spoken otherwise it's cheating.  You can use plain repetition of the given vocabulary, or short sentences such as "I like bananas" if passing the bananas, or "I like milk" if passing the milk. 

Use whispering or murmuring only so you can keep a lid on the noise.  Anyone talking or saying anything other than the given vocabulary or phrase loses a life for his or her team. You can rub out one of the lives you drew on the board earlier.

Anyone with a banana picture must pass his or her paper along the line in the direction of the collector, while the milk simultaneously makes its way to the milk collector.  Everyone passing a picture must say the given word or phrase to the person he or she hands it to.  The paper must take the most direct line towards the collector and no one can be missed out in the line of flight so to speak.  Alternatively have a rule that the paper cannot travel diagonally but can only go up or across rows.  Use whatever works best for your classroom configuration so that the maximum number of people have to pass the paper to include as many students as possible.

After a few goes ask if anyone has not yet had a go at all. Specify that for the next round the paper must go via those people who have not had a turn, and ask them to stand up so they can be identified.

Now here's the snag!  Those with the papers with a square can kidnap a picture if it comes their way, and take it out of the game.  If anyone succeeds in doing this they shout out "Kidnapped!" and tell you the team letter on the paper they have intercepted.  This is like the equivalent of a member of that team being taken hostage and that team loses a life from a given number of lives.  With older children they can also write their name on their paper, along with their drawing and team letter, so that specific class members are kidnapped. (The younger ones won't really like this so for them keep it general.)

Continue to play using the other words.  You may have a blank paper swap every couple of rounds so that the square 'kidnap' papers can secretly circulate.  At the end you see which team has the most lives.

You can use this game for absolutely any language you like, and it's great because everyone has a chance to speak and drill themselves in the given words or phrases while having quite a lot of fun!


If you like these ideas, add 161 games to your
repertoire of inspired teaching tools right now.

Try out "161 English language games for children" - the
purchase comes with a guarantee or a refund. Most of the
games can be played in class with no or limited materials.
Just go to to find out more.

2. Language ideas to use with this game

You can practise any grammar or vocabulary with this game.

Here is an example to give you the idea.  Let's say you
want to practise the past tense. Use food vocabulary for
the pictures for revision and use the target structure:
"Yesterday I ___________ (past tense)  ____________ (food
vocabulary)" Round one could be "Yesterday I ate apples"
Round two could be "Yesterday I bought pears" Round three
could be "Yesterday I washed potatoes" and so on.

Your class revise food vocabulary so that does not use up
much of their concentration, meaning that they can apply
themselves fully to saying the sentence with the new
structure correctly.

As mentioned above, use either new vocabulary or a new
target structure - but not both.  Revise vocabulary if
using a newish target structure, and vice-versa.

Play a couple of listening games with the new vocabulary
structure before playing this speaking game.  (See my book
of games for ideas).

3. Materials for you to try this game
For this game your pupils need a pencil and two pieces of
paper each.

4. Tell me what you think
I'd love to hear how you get on with this game!

Email from
Shelley Vernon

I hope these all may have benefit for us as an English Teacher

.::Related Posts:


Er Supeno on Sunday, March 21, 2010 8:36:00 PM said... Reply

What a fast learner you are, pak dan. I couldn't finish my blog as fast as you could.


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