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Games in the Classroom: High Intensity Vs. Low Intensity

Games in the Classroom: High Intensity Vs. Low Intensity | ITTT | TEFL Blog

As teachers, we constantly strive to provide fresh and creative ways to transmit new information to our students. However, our secret weapon has been and continues to be, games! Games are great tools to spark interest and participation in our students. The common issue we face daily is the what, when and how to implement these games and activities. Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. Here we will see what low and high-intensity games are, their characteristics, and a few examples of games you can use in your future lesson planning. 


Games have been a part of our social and intellectual upbringing, since probably before we could start walking. Some games require different aspects of ourselves, may it be physical, mental, or emotional capacity. The same applies to low and high-intensity games. Depending on the implementation of the games, they can provide benefits that adapt to the current situation of the classroom. These benefits will become clearer as we continue to analyze these types of games.

Usually, low-intensity games lack a competitive aspect to the activity. This means there are no winners or losers. It’s an activity in which they should follow the instructions to complete. The games will require little physical and mental reactions of the students. These games and activities are typically simple and easy to manage. The benefits of implementing low-intensity games are that they are perfect for young children. Since the games have simple instructions to follow, there is no confusion among the students. Which in turn, allows the teacher to have better management of the activity. This also provides the teacher with a breather in which he or she can conserve their energy and continue to work after a long day of teaching.

For high-intensity games, it’s the complete opposite. The games and activities have a competitive aspect and there is a winning objective for the students to achieve. These activities are stimulating for the students, and usually, require a constant interaction of the teacher. When implementing high-intensity games, the interest and participation of the students are piqued. Since there is a competitive aspect to the games, we can create teams for the sake of time management. When implemented correctly, the competitiveness of the game can promote teamwork and sportsmanship among the students. One of the most important benefits of high-intensity games is that they activate the sensory receptors, which helps retain knowledge. The students must make use of their senses to achieve the objective of the activity.

The following will illustrate a few examples of what a low and high-intensity game can be. Feel free to use these and incorporate them into your lesson plan.



1. Hide and Seek

This activity is fairly simple. You have a set of flashcards and you hide them around the classroom. You have the students close their eyes and count to ten while you hide the flashcards. When all the cards have been found, you review the vocabulary with students. If you want more interaction from the students, have half the class hide the cards and the other half seek. When finished, reverse the roles and review the vocabulary. Feel free to use play this activity as many times as you see fit.   

2. Hopscotch

With this game, the students will have to hop on one foot through the obstacle course to reach the end goal, then hop back to the beginning. I have implemented this game with flashcards. They hopped to the flashcard I asked and brought it back. Then I asked, “What’s this?”, and they would respond with, “It’s a/an…”. Depending on the regulations of your school, you can play this one of two ways. You can use a whiteboard marker and draw the squares on the floor, or you can use tape to outline the obstacle course. Whichever works best for you. 

3. Online Games

There are tools online which provide a plethora of games and activities to apply to the classroom. Some are free and some require a fee or membership. The online resources can be found through a simple search on the internet. I prefer to use a site called because it includes resources for children of all ages and proficiency levels.

Also read: The 5 Best TEFL Games For Adult Students 


1. Basketball/Soccer

What!? Basketball and soccer inside a classroom? That can’t be right! Well, despite the hesitation to implement active games like these, the results are very positive. Here is a safe manageable way to play soccer and basketball inside a classroom. First, you will need a medium-sized plastic ball. These balls should be soft to avoid any injury and damage. Before starting, clearly layout the instructions for the game and explain any consequences that might result from not following the rules. Once the rules have been established, you can have the students play the game one by one. They will shoot the ball to the corresponding flashcard and will have 2 opportunities to score a point. The teacher can create the hoop with their arms, and the goalposts can be created with cones. An alternative can be that the teacher uses their legs as the goalposts. Dynamic elements like these inspire the students to pay attention and participate. 

2. Simon Says

This game has been a staple in the development of English language learning. This game revolves around listening and following directions. You start with, “Simon says touch your nose, ear, knee, etc…”. However, if the instructor doesn’t say “Simon says” before a command, the command should be ignored. For example; “Touch your eyes, mouth, toes, etc…” should be ignored by the students. Students who don’t follow the instructions correctly are eliminated until you have a winner. This activity requires the students to carefully analyze what is being said and follow the correct instructions that are given.   

3. Connect 4

The game is a fairly simple concept. However, it’s an activity in which the students must think strategically while at the same time, apply their newly attained knowledge. The premise is that one person or team must connect 4 of anything (X’s, O’s, shapes, etc.…) in a row. The connection can be horizontal, vertical, or diagonal. This game is perfect for review of any kind. The optimal way to play this activity is to split the class into two teams. Draw a grid on the board and have a list of questions or vocabulary. If they answered correctly, one member of the group is allowed to go up and place the team’s symbol on the grid. The first team to get four in a row wins! 


As previously mentioned, games are a basic element in a learning environment. They provide an enthralling aspect to the learning experience and must be used accordingly. The examples provided, are a few of the many games and activities we have at our disposal. Use and adapt all game ideas you come across. The correct utilization of games will allow for a more enjoyable learning experience for both the student and teacher.

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