The Sticky Gun Game

This is part of a series on ESL games to play with students.

Maybe it’s because Koreans aren’t allowed to own real guns, or maybe it’s just because Nerf is always fun, but my students love the Sticky Gun Game. You’ll need to pick up a Nerf gun from a local store or steal one from a fellow teacher, but once you do, here’s how to play:

  • Draw a huge target on the white board. Mine usually only has four circles in it, though, from one to three, and then the smallest circle is worth five points. Now’s a good time to introduce the vocabulary word “target” too.
  • Choose a point or line on the ground where students will shoot from.
  • Have you students reread their reading passage. You can have them do this on their own, out loud altogether, two sentences at a time, whatever. Just get through it.
  • While they’re reading (or beforehand if you have time to prep), make up some questions about the passage. Plan some hard questions, and plan some easy questions.
  • When the class is finished reading, divide them up into teams.
  • Then explain the rules:
    • The first person to raise their hand, gets a chance to shoot the gun to win points for their team.
    • Once you try to answer, though, you can’t answer that question again, even if you guess the wrong answer (this keeps the students honest, instead of just shooting their hands up as soon as they can without knowing the answer).
    • If the first person misses the question, then the next person who raises their hand gets to try. And so on.
  • If someone answers correctly, give them a chance to shoot at the target.
  • If they miss completely, they don’t get any points. Otherwise, they get however many points the target says they get.┬áThe points get added to that student’s team’s score.

You can keep this game going for a long time because it will take awhile for them to lose interest. The hard part is coming up with interesting questions. I like to start with easy questions and work into the harder ones. Also, I like to start closed-book. If no one gets the right answer, then I have them open their books.

Two other things:

  • If a student guesses a wrong answer but later remembers the right answer, I encourage that student to tell others on their team. That student won’t get to shoot, but the team overall still has a chance to win points. This helps keep students involved even if they’ve already missed the answer once.
  • Never let students point the gun at other students or at you. The first time someone does it, warn them all that if they’re not able to handle the gun respectfully, they won’t be able to shoot. And follow through with that warning if it happens again.

Other than that, have fun!