This is a great, easy-to-play game, perfect for a quick brain break. It's one that my students love to play and request all of the time.

I love it because it takes no prep, keeps the students engaged, and is great to practice vocabulary.


The goal of the game is simple. Keep the ball up in the air as long as possible without it hitting the ground or without someone shouting their word before hitting the ball.

My classes love to compete against my other classes and it becomes a fierce competition.


Students form a circle outside and hit a beach ball into the air. Before they can hit the beach ball, they need to shout out a word in the target language that matches the theme of the game. If they hit the ball without shouting out a word, gameplay stops and the game starts over. The object is to keep the ball in the air as long as possible.

I usually start with numbers first. I will toss the ball into the circle and say "one" in the target language. Another student will run to hit the ball and call out "two." This will continue until the ball touches the ground or a student forgets to call out a number.

I will record the highest number the class reached and we'll see if any other class can beat it.

If you use any other vocabulary other than counting, you'll have to time how long the ball stays in the air and record that number as their "score."


I don't allow spiking, kicking, or forcibly hitting the ball. Everyone must hit the ball with an underhand hit and must shout a word within the theme in the target language before hitting the ball. Words can only be repeated after three hits. For example, you can say, "cat, dog, elephant, cat" but not, "cat, dog, cat."

There are a few ways you can handle violating of the rules. You can warn the first time and remove the student from the game if it happens again. You can restart the game if any rule is broken, or if too many students aren't following the rules, you can stop playing altogether.


Any thematic vocabulary will work. I like to start with the numbers in order and then move up to other vocabulary. It's a great way to review this vocabulary while still having fun. And there are so many variations you can do with this.

Here are some examples:

  • colors
  • animals
  • months
  • days
  • alphabet
  • weather
  • words that start with...

I hope you have as much fun playing the game as my students and I do. If you have any ideas on how to mix it up or different ideas for themes, please share in the comments below!