Kindergarten ESL lesson plan

kindergarten ESL lesson plan on animals

This kindergarten ESL lesson plan is suitable for complete beginners learning their first English words. The topics are greetings, animals, and the phrase I’m Hungry.

Key vocabulary

Nouns: Lion, fox, cat, bird, snake, spider, ant.

Phrases: I’m hungry. How are you? I’m fine, thanks.


A rope, three identical plastic cups, cut-outs of the animals (two copies of each animal), two wooden spoons, a biscuit lid, drinking straws, two pairs of rolled-up socks, eye pads, or a mask to blindfold the children

The Kindergarten ESL lesson plan

All games in this kindergarten ESL lesson plan come from my book of ESL games for preschool.

1. Show me

Show me is a listening game to introduce animal vocabulary.

Display the lion, fox, and cat flashcards. First, name the cards and ask pupils to touch the card you name.  Next, say one animal, then the other, slowly at first, accelerating as the children become proficient. Try and catch them out and make them touch the wrong card. Try this, lion, fox, lion, fox, lion, fox, cat. The chances are some children will touch the lion instead of the cat. It’s more fun if there is some challenge.

2. Jump the line

To set up, make a line with a rope or stick tape to the floor. Then, place pictures on either side of that line, to the left and right. Next, call out the items.  Pupils jump to the right or left depending on the picture’s location in relation to the line.

cartoon illustration of game Jump the Line

3. Find me

First, spread out the lion, the fox, and the cat flashcards around the room while pupils keep their eyes closed. Then, ask pupils to open their eyes and show you an item. ‘Find me the lion.’ Count out loud to five.  Pupils can keep the flashcards that they find. Next, swap over. Pupils hide items, and the teacher finds them while students count to five if they know how to count already. Finally, count up the flashcards at the end but don’t make it a competition. If one pupil has more than the other, there is no need to point that out or have a winner.

4. Vocabulary aim and throw

(Listening and speaking game)

Give each player a pair of rolled-up socks. Display vocabulary pictures, well spread out on the floor. Mark a starting line. Pupils take turns to aim at the pictures.

child aiming at vocabulary flashcards

5. Speaking drill

Spend a few minutes concentrating on saying the words. First, the teacher says a word while showing the picture, and then, pupils copy.

6. Miming games

(speaking game)

Next, mime an animal and encourage pupils to tell you which animal it is. Then, one pupil mimes an animal while the others guess what it is.

7. Listen

Listen is an exciting listening game. The teacher starts by calling out various animals. Then, when the teacher says, “I’m hungry!” the children run for shelter before the teacher catches them. A safe place could be touching a wall in the classroom or going to a corner of the room. It’s best not to catch a child as that can lead to tears. By all means get close, to make the game exciting, but let them get away!  Finally, let students have a turn to call out the words, but only if they are doing well and can manage this step. Otherwise, leave it for a future lesson.

8. Fishing


Fishing is a lovely quiet game since children cannot make any noise while sucking a straw! Calm games are essential in every kindergarten ESL lesson plan.

Materials: each pupil needs a drinking straw and some flashcards.

cartoon illustration of child sucking through straw

Place the straw on a picture and suck until you lift the paper.

Use small paper flashcards that are light and easy to suck. 

Pupils may not be able to do this at first. Show them how to place the straw flat on the paper.  Don’t despair; they soon figure out how to do it. If a child fails consistently, leave it for now and try another day. Pupils choose an animal picture they want to suck up with the straw. Designate a finish line about two meters away. Finally, pupils transport their animal over the finish line using only the straw, and they are not allowed to touch the paper.

9. Diving for treasure

(Listening game)

Diving for treasure is an imaginative game, adaptable to any kindergarten ESL lesson plan:

  1. Spread pictures, which are treasure, on the floor.
  2. Tell children that a big ship has sunk and they are going to save the animals from drowning.
  3. Pupils dive into the water and fetch the treasure which the teacher names.

Each time they dive, the children have to come back with the right picture. Then, optionally, expand the distance to make it more active.

To make the game more exciting, have pupils fetch pictures while holding their breath. Then, they must dive down to the bottom of the sea and rescue an animal they find there. Before starting to dive, they take a big breath in and hold their breath until they come back up to the surface with the animal. In fact, all they are doing is picking up a picture from the floor, except that you have turned it into an imaginary rescue operation. No animals drown; resuscitate if you need to! Use stuffed animal toys if you have them instead of flashcards.

10. Getting warmer / Hide and seek

(Speaking game)

Hide an object for pupils to find.  The teacher guides pupils saying “getting warmer” as pupils come closer to the hiding place. Or “Getting colder” when pupils move further away. If pupils don’t know this vocabulary, warmer and colder, use gestures to help them understand.

Preschool Games 

All games in this lesson plan for preschool children learning English are from this book.

11. Biscuit tin

First, place a biscuit tin somewhere on the floor. Next, blindfold students and give them a spoon. They advance around the room on their hands and knees, banging the spoon on the floor.  The pupils must move around and try to hit this tin lid with their spoon. As soon as they do, remove the blindfold. The pupil then turns over the tin lid and names the flashcard underneath. Finally, they get a biscuit as a reward!

Biscuit tin preschool vocabulary game

12. Three cups

You need three identical plastic cups and small pictures. Roll up the images into a tube, or fold them, to fit inside a cup. Turn the cups upside down and switch them quickly around. The object is to guess which image is under each cup. You can hide three pictures at a time. Finally, swap them over and repeat.

three cups game

14. Stepping stones

Spread the animal pictures on the floor in a line, like stepping stones over a pond. Then, tell pupils which animal to walk to. It can be slippery, so be careful. Alternatively, pupils name each picture as they cross the pond.

Tell a story

Any kindergarten ESL lesson plan would not be complete without a story! The story that goes with this lesson is called I’m Hungry. It’s available with my first series of stories for preschool children.

Do you love this Kindergarten ESL lesson plan?

Get the complete teaching kit containing ten stories, flashcards, and ten lesson plans with games if the answer is yes. In addition, the resource comes with ten PowerPoint stories with audio by native speakers.

Save time!

No prep for you because the lesson plans take you step-by-step through all the vocabulary and phrases in the story. Just print the flashcards.

And these optional extras:

workbook (optional extra)

songs that match the vocabulary of the stories, with masks of the story characters to cut out, decorate, and wear.

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