The activities in this post are easy and ready-to-use ESL writing games for online teaching that you can play whether you have an asynchronous or synchronous classroom. In my classroom, I have used these activities as starters or as an ongoing activity students can do on my classroom page. I use Microsoft Teams for my lessons, but this would work on any learning platform (Moodle, Seesaw, Schoology, etc.) where students can post a reply to your message.
Activity 1: If I Were a…
We can use our imaginations and creativity to represent our feelings or our personality. Use the following pattern to answer a question about yourself and ask a classmate a question.
If you were a _(category of item)_, what (repeat category) would you be?
Ex: If you were fruit, which fruit would you be?
If I were a ___, I would be a ___ because ____.
If I were a fruit, I would be a grape because I like being with my friends.
Write a reply answering the question posted and ask a question for someone else to answer.
Starting Question: If you were a fruit, what fruit would you be?
Response: If I were a fruit, I would be a lemon because I’m bright and happy.
If you were a bird, what bird would you be?
Activity 2: Changing Words Chain
Change only one letter to make a new word. You may rearrange letters.
First word: Tree
Person 1: Free
Person 2: Reed
Reply to the previous person’s post.
First word: boat
Activity 3: Sentence Chains
Write a sentence that starts with the last word in the sentence before yours.
Must be at least five words long
Must be grammatically correct
Must make sense
Try to make it related to our unit topic
First sentence: One way to protect the environment is to use less plastic.
Next sentence: Plastic stays in the earth for a very long time because it is not biodegradable.
Activity 4: Class Word Search
I use The Word Search to make quick and easy word searches for my classes. After you make the word search, you can post the link on your page and students can click on it and search for the answers. The very best thing about playing online through this website is that each student gets a different puzzle, so that when one student posts a screenshot of their completed puzzle, it does not give away the answers to the rest of the students.
However, I always post a screenshot of an offline puzzle so that students with poor internet can still do the puzzle by just looking at it.
If you can, follow this link to the word search to complete it online.
If you can’t open that page, find a word on the word search and describe where you found it (e.g., on the first line starting at the second row). Include one sentence using the word in a way that shows that you know what it means.
Example Student Response
On the first line, I found the word “biodegradable.” It’s best to use packaging material that is biodegradable so that it doesn’t stay in the ground for very long.
Activity 5: Photo Caption Contest
Choose a fun, engaging photo. I recommend choosing a photo from the Comedy Wildlife Photo competition that your students will find funny. Alternatively, you can choose a photo relevant to your unit topic and then ask students to use words related to the topic.
Write a funny or interesting caption for this photo. If you think one of your classmates wrote a great caption, “like” their post. The person with the most “likes” will win.
A caption is a sentence that describes a photo. Captions normally have describing words and are written in present tense. Feel free to make up details.
This curious duck searches for the sneaky fish that nibbles on his feet while he swims.
Activity 6: Words Within Words
This is the classic words within words game. It works well for an asynchronous online activity because students have plenty of think time and they can use an online dictionary to double check their words.
As a teacher, you can use the website Word Plays to double check and make sure that your chosen word contains plenty of other words for your students to find. You can also use that to “cheat” and find your example word—just don’t tell the students!
Can you make any new words using some of the letters within this word?
Write a post with the word you found and write a sentence using the word in a way that shows that you know what the word means. If you can, also add a picture that goes with your word.
I found the word “agree.”
Sentence: I always agree with my wonderful English teacher because she has great ideas.
I hope you found something here that you can try, with minimal prep time, in your online classroom. Do you have your own easy writing activity for online learning? Do you have any great tools or resources to share? Please comment below with your ideas!