EAL games for preschool learners

children acting Hetty and the Lion with masks

A perfect resource for EAL learners

Hello and welcome.  You have signed up to receive Hetty and the Lion, a free story to use with your preschool English language learners.

This story is a small sample from my resource kit for teachers needing fun EAL games, activities and stories for children aged 3-5. This teaching resource includes:

  • *10* story lesson plans with games and activities so you know what to teach, and how to do it.
  • *10* beautifully illustrated stories especially written for children aged 3-5 learning English as a second language.
  • Extra teaching resources such as bingo sets and flashcards.

Thanks to Valentina at douafetecucuiete in Romania for the pictures she took while using the games and flashcards below.

This really works !

“THANK YOU FOR ALL YOUR IDEAS!!!!! They are wonderful and extremely useful. 
I use them in all my classes, and they are many I am afraid. I tell my students: “today we are going to play one of Shelley’s games or stories” and they already know that we are going to have fun. 

It’s amazing how effective they are. I – and certainly my students – love them. Thanks again from Argentina!”

Patricia Calvinho, Argentina 

The Lesson Plan

Here goes with your fun lesson plan, EAL games and flashcards to prepare for the story. Depending on the ability of your children and how often they are exposed to English you might take 1 to 3 half hour sessions to introduce all the above words using games and other fun activities.  You would also ideally include a song or two in the lesson and perhaps a 5-minute colouring sheet or similar activity. (All of these are included in my great resource.)

Target language for Hetty and the Lion

Greeting: Hello, how are you? I’m fine thanks.
Nouns:  lion, milk, orange, apple, banana, pear, ice cream
Verbs: drank, ate        
Other: would you like some…? Oh yes please, little

EAL Preschool Activities

Listening games for the first three fruits

Introduce the first three fruits and play Run and Touch.  First lay out the picture flashcards, or the fruits themselves and tell the children to touch the fruit you name.  After a few minutes spread the pictures out over the room and tell the children to run over to the picture you name.

How long should an English lesson be?

preschool children role-play with fruits

More listening games

Next have the children make the shape of the fruit you name with their bodies.

If your children are doing well you can introduce the other three food words and play the above games again, either with the three new words or with all six words if you have children who are fast learners.  Only you can know exactly how fast to go.

Next play Show me, variation 3.  In this game you hand out different picture cards to the children who secretly look at their card and place is face down on the floor or hold the picture into their chests.

Musical Flashcards

Play some music (such as the Hetty and the Lion song) for ten seconds or so and have the children move around the room.  When you stop the music name one of the fruits and the children with that fruit must show the picture to everyone.    You can add an element where when the music stops everyone must freeze and only those children with the picture you have called out can move.  After you have called out all the fruits and vocabulary swap the pictures around and play again, or move onto another game.

Preschool EAL learners playing musical flashcards


Now you have given the children some practice understanding the first three fruits, introduce the greetings.  Seat the children in a circle and take a ball.  Ask the whole group, “Hello, how are you?” and have the group answer back with, “I’m fine thanks.”  Have the children repeat this back to you three or four times in unison.  Now roll the ball to one child and say, “Hello, how are you?”  Help the child reply to you with, “I’m fine, thanks”.  The child rolls the ball back to you and you repeat with each child.  You can only do this with a group of 8 or it gets boring.

With a bigger group put the children into pairs in the circle.  Seat the two in a pair close together and have them hold hands, then leave a clear gap between the next pair.  Now you can roll the ball to a pair of children and they can reply together, which cuts down the whole exercise by half.

More listening games and the rest of the food words

Now introduce the remaining food words and play some more listening games.   For a listening game that also revises colours name the fruit and the children call out the colour of that fruit.  For example you say, “banana” and the children say, “yellow”, etc.  Children following the course of ten stories will
know ten colours by now.

Musical fruits

Lay out the colours of the fruits, and the milk on the floor.  With a large group you will want several of each colour.  Use the coloured feet or the Twister sheet, (see picture), or whatever you have. Play music while the children dance around.  Then call out a question such as, “what colour is a banana?”  The children must jump on the colour yellow.  This listening game allows the
children to hear the words named several times in preparation for saying them, and it also allows for the revision of colours.  Remember to include, “what colour is milk?” as well as the fruits.

preschool children playing Twister

If your children do not know the colours then play musical fruits by just naming the fruits and food vocabulary in turn and letting the children jump on the correct pictures.  You will need several pictures of each so that you do not have the whole group converging on one small picture.  You want to be sure the children have enough space and pictures to move around and play
without bumping into each other.

Speaking games

You may decide to leave these speaking games until after you have read the story or for another lesson – it just depends on your group.   If you feel your children are not ready for these games then skip ahead to more listening games where you introduce the question, Would you like some..?

Mystery box

When the children are ready for some speaking practice play some games such as mystery box where you cut holes in a cardboard box, turn the box upside down and place real fruits inside.  The children have to feel inside the box and name what they can feel.

Cut several holes in the same box to give more than one child a go at a time, and if you have a big group you will need more than one box.  I suggest two to four children feeling in one box at any one time so if you have eight children one box is enough as the children can wait one turn.  However if you have 12
children I recommend two boxes as  you do not want half of the children sitting around doing nothing for more than a minute or two or you may start to have discipline problems

You can play a variant of this where you place three objects in the box.  Two are matching and one is the odd one out.  For example you place two oranges and one banana in the box.   The children feel inside and name the odd one out.

Hide and Guess game

Play a guessing game such as Hide and Guess where a child picks up a fruit and hides it in a bag. The others guess what is in the bag, or guess which fruit is missing from the ones visible. See the picture below for this game in action.

preschool kids playing a game with fruits

Listening games to introduce would you like some?

Moving on now from simple vocabulary words to the key phrase in the story, Would you like some..?  At this stage it is enough to play a few listening games so that the children understand the meaning of this phrase so that they
can follow the events in the story.  Explain the meaning of the question first and with the children  in a circle ask them each if they would like some ice cream, or some apples, etc.  Let the children answer yes or no and if they
answer yes hand them the fruit or a picture of the fruit and the children can pretend to eat it if they like.

Play All Change

In this game, hand out the fruit and food words that the children have been practising in the previous games.  Hand out pairs of words so that at two children have the same item.  You then ask the question, would you like some
apples?  The two children with an apple or a picture of an apple change places.  Continue through all the vocabulary.

Then you jazz the game up by putting one child in the middle.  This time when the two children change places the child in the middle must try to jump into one of the spots in the circle, leaving a different child to take the place in the middle.  There are six food words in this story, which would mean that you could play with thirteen children – one being in the middle.

If you have more than thirteen children and you have a helper consider forming two groups and let the helper look after the second group.  If that is not possible then you will have to have up to three children holding the same cards.  If the group gets too large this game can lead to chaos so more than 15 children and you must have two groups and a helper.

If you have less than thirteen children then instead of handing out two bananas, two apples, etc, hand out all the vocabulary and ask, would you like some apples and bananas?  Then the child with the apples changes places with the child with the bananas.

Calm the kids down if you need to

At any time during the lesson, when you want to calm the children down or give them a break, you can hand out the black and white version of the vocabulary and allow the children to colour them.

Flashcards for the lesson plan

The word lion is not included in the above games to keep everything to a food theme.   You will be able to introduce the lion just before you tell the story.

Here now is the link to your flashcards that you can use to pre-teach all the target language.  You will find a colour set to use in the games and a black and white set that you can give out for colouring.

If you can use real fruits as well that is ideal for young children, but the flashcards can be helpful if you cannot access real objects and for some of the games where flashcards are more practical.

Colour Flashcards for the Story

After the lesson

You should now be ready to read the story to the children, who, with the aid of the coloured illustrations will be able to follow and understand the events.

You will be able to follow up with more games and activities to revise, reinforce and spend more time practising speaking.  Your next email will contain the story itself with the pictures as well as ideas on what to do during the story.

I hope you like this approach and have fun with the games and ideas above as you prepare your children for Hetty and the Lion.

Lots more preschool games

If you like these ideas then you will like my book of over one hundred ideas and games to teach any vocabulary and any language.  There are so many different types of game that you will have enough ideas to keep your preschoolers happy for several years!

Read reviews here or take advantage of the excellent value I am extending to you via the featured product below.

All the best, Shelley Ann Vernon, Teaching English Games

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