Monday, March 12, 2012

Top Ten Ways to use Dice in the ESL classroom

Did you know that dice can be a great way to increase motivation and spice up boring lessons and exercises in class? Dice can be bought at any dollar store in the US  in a pack of 10 for $1. I'm sure that they are also cheap in other countries.Because of the unpredictable nature of dice, there is something interesting about how they motivate students.

Here are 10 ways to use dice to make your class more fun and interesting.

1.  Use dice to choose students for activities. Using addition or multiplication,  2 to 3 dice can be used to help the teacher have a random way of picking students for activities when each student is assigned a number.

2. Use dice to help choose groups.  Though groups may get be a bit lopsided at times, using one die for each student can work if you  have odd and even groups.  That way there is a greater likelihood that you will split the class into groups evenly.

3. Use dice in conjunction with book exercises.  Using 2 -3 dice and addition, any book exercise can become a game in which students roll and the number of the question is the one that they must answer in their group.  If they answer correctly, they get a point (etc.).

4. Use dice to learn verb tenses.  Very conveniently, there are 12 verb tense forms in English. This works great for grammar review if you assign each tense a number 1-12  on the board and have the students use dice and a verb of their/your choosing. When students roll, they must produce the verb form that corresponds with the number and verb.  I usually do this in groups to get more students participating.

5. Use dice for Grammar Board Games.  Create your own board games or download games from sites like and have students play the games in class for prizes or other incentives.

6. Use dice to choose the level of difficulty in games. If you have a review exercise with varying levels of difficulty, have each student roll a die and answer either the hardest or the easiest question based on their roll (1 being the easiest (simple present), 6 being the hardest (future perfect progressive)).  If they get it right, they get more points for their team, if they get it wrong, they either lose points or simply gain nothing.

7.  Use dice to assign bonus points. Have a student roll a dice at the beginning of a test to assign how many extra points the bonus will be worth (no more than 6 points).  It's up to you how you would give the points. 

8.  Use dice to decide who goes first in presentations. Every student hates to be first, and every teacher hates to decide who has to go first, so randomize it!   This is easier with 2 dice and addition. The student with the lowest number goes last/first. Again, it's up to you how you do it.

9. Use dice to have students create sentences.  The large, soft, foamy dice work well with this.  Have one student roll the dice in front of the class and the students have to compete on the board to write a sentence with the number of words that matches the number on the dice.

10. Use dice at the end of class.  Very close to the end of class, have students roll dice to find out how many more questions they should answer to get out. If they get a one, they only have one left. If they get a six, they have six left.

Not all of these may work, depending on your teaching context.  However, many of them may be modified for your class and utilized to help make your English class just a little bit more exciting. Please comment and let me know if you have any ideas to add using dice.

I will also post a Top Ten Uses for Playing Cards in the ESL classroom in the near future and a gameboard that can be used with playing cards to make grammar tense learning a lot funner.


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