Games’ Scoring Systems

Games’ Scoring Systems


Competition works very well with children (and even adults) over the age of about 4 and it can be a great way to retain attention on an activity and producing the language. Competition must be kept fair, fun and involve the learners as much as possible.

By Sophia McMillan



Aim: Draw a complete person

Preparation: 2 teams. Team names and a space for drawing their person on each side of the whiteboard. Across the top of the whiteboard, Teacher draws 6 body parts and numbers them 1 to 6 (or write the words to practice word recognition).

Resources: Dice

How to play: Learners win points for doing good things. When a team gets 5 points one learner throws the dice and draws the corresponding body part on their picture. If a team already has that body part, the teacher has a choice of what to do: learners draw another body part; get nothing and sit down or throw the dice again.

Adaptations: Destruct – reverse of above; Construct face, monster, house, anything



Aim: Get to the finish

Preparation: 2 teams. Teacher draws a racetrack of squares around the perimeter of the whiteboard. Teacher adds symbols in some of the squares and elicits tasks (rewards or forfeits) for the symbols

Resources: 2 whiteboard magnets, a die

How to play: When learners get points they move around the racetrack, doing the tasks when appropriate

Adaptations: Halftrack; Less or more tasks. Can be done along with individual point games.


Spelling tower

Aim: Reduce the number of floors and thus the number of spelling for homework

Preparation: 1 team. Draw a tower of 10 floors on the whiteboard

Resources: None

How to play: The height of the tower (the number of floors) indicates the number of words learners will get for homework to learn how to spell for next class. Learners reduce the height of the tower throughout the class. Perhaps 5 points translate into the loss of 1 floor. 

NB: Make sure the learners do not get too many or too few.

Adaptations: Have 2 teams each with their own tower. Winners give the other team extra spelling words. Learners constitute 1 team, Teacher the other.


Snakes and Ladders

Aim: To reach the finish

Preparation: Teacher draws the playing board on the whiteboard, adding some snakes and ladders

Resources: 2 whiteboard magnets, a dice

How to play: Similar to the racetrack game. Students get 5 minor points and then throw the dice and move along the snakes and ladders board

Adaptations: Substitute snakes and ladders with recently taught vocabulary



Aim: To get to the top of the mountain

Preparation: Teacher draws a mountain in the middle of the whiteboard, adding climbing pegs on the slopes; the same number on each side. Teacher draws a small house at both lower corners of the whiteboard (at the base of the slopes). 

Resources: 2 whiteboard magnets

How to play: Points translate into a move up the mountain. First team to the top wins.

Adaptations: Add more pegs and penalty pegs – some task to be done before they can continue, e.g. jump 5 times, say target language 20 times, etc. Add geographical features, e.g. a lake, a waterfall, a cave, an angry mountain goat


Take a Card

Aim: To get the most points

Preparation: Teacher draws a points box for each team

Resources: Pack of playing cards

How to play: When learners get a point, 1 learner chooses a card from the pack. They get that number of points for their team. Decide before playing on the value of the cards with no numbers, king, queen, jack for example 11, 12, 13.


Points – 135, 246

Aim: To get the most points

Preparation: Teacher draws a box for team points on the whiteboard

Resources: A die

How to play: When a team gets a point, they get to throw the dice. If they get 1, 3, 5, they get 10 points. If they get 2, 4, 6, they get minus 5 points.

Adaptations: Alter the number of points; Alter the criteria for minus points, e.g. only a 1 or 2 is minus; 3, 4, 5, 6, is plus points; Add a safe option for those that do not want to risk it, e.g. 5 points. Differ the activity. Instead of throwing a dice, play paper, scissors, stone; throw a sticky ball on a target


Block Basketball

Aim: To get the most points

Preparation: Draw a box for points on the whiteboard

Resources: Some foam blocks, a box

How to play: When learners get a point, they stand a decided distance away from the box and try to throw the ball in the box for a point (or 5 points). 


Book Page

Aim: To get the most points

Preparation: Points boxes on the whiteboard and a list of the page numbers of the book.

Resources: A book. The reader (if you use one) is good

How to play: When a team gets 5 minor points, they choose a page number of the book. The teacher reads out the first sentence of that page and elicits from learners the first letter. The letter translates into points A = 1, B = 2, C = 3, etc. 


Adaptations: The last letter of the sentence is the point winner; The number of letters in the word indicates the number of points; The number of words in the sentence indicates the number of points


Os and Xs

Aim: To get the most points

Preparation: Teacher draws a Os and Xs grid on the whiteboard. Teacher draws point boxes for the teams

Resources: Whiteboard & pens

How to play: When a team gets 5 minor points they can have a turn at the Os and Xs. 3 in a row wins a major point for the team. If learners have more turns then places, they can replace already chosen squares

Adaptations: Instead of 3×3 box, use a 5×3 or another format; Use other symbols other than Os and Xs. The same method can be transferred to other games, e.g. Jenga, Connect 4, etc.


Black and Red Cards

Aim: To get the most points.

Preparation: Divide the class into two teams.

Resources: A deck of cards.

How to play: Every so often during drilling, give each learnera card.  They get 10 points for each black card and -5 points for each red card.

Adaptations: Learners can guess black or red for points.  They can also guess higher or lower than the previous card.



Aim: To move the magnets around the bases and score home runs.

Preparation: Draw a baseball diamond on the board.

Resources: Whiteboard, pens, magnets and a die.

How to play: Learners roll the die.  1, 3, 5 they can move their magnet one base.  2, 4, 6, they can move two bases.  They get one point every time they pass home.

Miho Dam Park, next to Miho Dam in Yamakita, Shizuoka


Dice Blackjack

Aim: To get as close to 12 in three rolls without going over.

Preparation: Draw this on the board:  ++=12

Resources: A die.

How to play: The learners have three rolls to get 12 without going over.  They get 10 times the number they roll or 150 for a perfect 12.  So if they roll a 7, they get 70 points.  If they roll bigger than 12, they lose 10 points



Aim: To score the most points.

Preparation: Draw a vertical rectangle that is divided into 4 squares for each team.

Resources: One magnet for each team.

How to Play: Place the magnet in the bottom square of each rectangle. Every time the team gets a point the magnet is moved up one square. Once the magnet gets to the top square one member of the team gets to play a reward game (e.g. throw a sticky ball, paper/scissors/stone). Give the team some points that reflect how well they did at the reward game. 

Adaptations: Suggested reward game: the first time a team’s magnet gets to the top of the rectangle ask them for a word beginning with ‘a’. Give them one point for each letter in the word. The next time ask them for a word beginning with ‘b’. Keep going through the alphabet like this ‘c, d, e…’

Pictured: Yuhi Falls in Minamiashigarashi, Kanagawa



About kintaro63

Writer and teacher in Japan
This entry was posted in Games, Teacher Training, Teaching Children and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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