Play Day JA: Games for teachers and children to try

Play is fun, play is learning! We’ve collected some simple games schools can try tomorrow on February 5 for #PlayDayJA. These are just suggestions, and of course teachers can encourage children to create their own games together.

For those who would like more information, we encourage you to download the Ministry of Education’s Game-Based Teacher’s Manual, developed with the support of UNICEF. It is packed with resources, including plenty of game-based activities for grades 1, 2 and 3.


Children sit in a circle or stand in a straight line. The first child whispers a word or phrase into the ear of the next child (e.g. “Play Day JA is great!”), until every child has been whispered to – and the final child announces the ‘answer’. 

Word games

Invite the children to lead by choosing a word – and see how many words they can create beginning with letters contained in their chosen word.

Play Day JA 2020



Split students into small groups and choose a theme e.g. food. Give them some time to think of a word beginning with a given letter and award points for unique answers.

Memory games

Ask students to say “My mother went to the market”, and add items beginning with letters in the order they appear in the alphabet. The first student might reply, “My mother went to the market and bought an apple.” The next student would have to repeat, but add another item from the market, such as a banana, and so on. See how well students can remember.

Dictionary game

Split the class into groups and within each give a student a book to hold. You then say a word or image, which they must then find inside it – the first to find scores a point for their team. The game ends once every student has had a try.

Hot potato

Divide the class into small groups and arrange into circles, giving each an object e.g. a soft ball. You then ask all groups the same question for an individual student to answer – correct answers allow them to pass the ball along. The first group where all students correctly answer wins.

I spy

“I spy” using objects in the room – whether you can start leading the class, but then invite children to take the lead by choosing words for their classmates to spy!

“My name is”

Have students write their names vertically. Next as individuals, or together as a class, they can find an adjective for each letter. This introduces new words and encourages students to be positive about themselves and others.

E – exciting
A – amazing
R – reliable
L – loving


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