Looking back over my teaching career, I feel like the most successful experiences have been those in which friendship and fun were present in every lesson.  These two elements are essential for developing the kind of healthy classroom environment that supports the learning process.  To achieve this, you need more than good teacher-student rapport.  You also need to cultivate positive relationships between the students themselves.

In this post, we’re going to look at how certain games can help you to create a healthy classroom community. 

Before I get started, take a look at these quotes which have come from real Young Learner teachers.  Do any of these situations sound familiar?  What do you think the consequences of these problems are?


I’ve given up getting them to work in groups because there’s always a fight.

There’s this one child in my class who the others refuse to play with.

She’s too embarrassed to speak because her level is lower than the others.  But because she’s not speaking, she’s not improving!

I’ve tried a sticker chart to improve their behavior but not they fight over the stickers.

If you’ve read the quote from David Vale on the left, you probably realize that group formation games are different from the typical ice-breakers you might use at the start of a course or games you use in a regular class.  Here are the guidelines to use when selecting an appropriate activity:

Does is require the group to work cooperatively?  Do they need to somehow act together?  Is it needed to support each other to play the game or complete the task successfully?  The children do make physical contact with each other in a gentle way?  Do they need to lend and receive trust? Does is create highly enjoyable and non-competitive situations?


I’ve been using them for so long that I can no longer remember where I learned them from.  Some of them are traditional games which have been adapted and others are drama warmers.  

Give it a go and let me know how your students respond!


  • Claire Venables is a qualified English teacher who has been dedicated to ELT since 2001. After a decade in Spain, she moved to Brazil in 2011 where she has worked in the creation and implementation of bilingual programs in schools, the development of teacher development courses, as a national and international speaker, materials writer, active member of the National Association of Teachers of English (BRAZ-TESOL). Despite her wide-ranging experience, she is and always will be most passionate about teaching children.