Countable and uncountable noun games

1. Picture difference Students ask each other “Is there any milk?” or “Are there any sandwiches?” to find the differences in their pictures. This is best done with photocopies of drawings which have been changed with tippex and pen, but is also possible with two completely different pictures from magazines. A variation that works well […]

Written by Alex Case for TEFL.net

1. Picture difference
Students ask each other “Is there any milk?” or “Are there any sandwiches?” to find the differences in their pictures. This is best done with photocopies of drawings which have been changed with tippex and pen, but is also possible with two completely different pictures from magazines. A variation that works well with random pictures is Picture Similarity, where they have to find how many things are the same instead. Good subjects of pictures include food and drink, materials in a factory or workshop, and stationery cupboards.

2. Brainstorm/ board race
Divide the board into two halves and the class into two teams. Tell one half of the class that they have to write uncountable nouns on their side of the board and the other that they have to write uncountable nouns. You can also be more specific, e.g. limiting them to foods or things in the classroom. They then stand up in two lines in front of their halves of the board. The person at the front of the line takes the pen and writes something in their category, with help from their classmates (e.g. telling them the spelling) if they need it. They then pass the pen to the person behind them and go to the back of the line. This continues until the teacher says “Stop”, and the team with the most correct words in their category wins. You can also have both teams working on the same category at the same time, or allow teams to choose their categories.

3. Countable uncountable 20 questions
For example, “Is it uncountable?” “Yes, it is.” “Is it a liquid?” “No, it isn’t.” “Is there any in this room?” etc, until they guess which object or substance their partner is thinking of.

4. Find countable/uncountable/singular/plural things in common
Students ask each other questions or respond to their partner’s statements in order to make sentences including countable or uncountable nouns that are true for both of them, e.g. “We both have lots of shoes” or “Neither of us knows much grammar”

5. Chain recipe (= Recipe consequences)
Prepare a worksheet that provides the outline for a recipe and elicits lots of countable and uncountable nouns in the blanks, e.g. the first line could be “Measure 1 litre of _______________ and pour it into the saucepan” and the second line could be “Chop up a few ________________ and fry them lightly”. Make sure there are 10 to 15 lines, and then add dotted lines between the different lines of the recipe. Photocopy one per student and give them out. Each person fills in only the first line of their worksheet, then they fold them along the dotted line so that the next person can’t see what has been written, and then pass them around the class or group clockwise. This continues- writing, folding and passing each time- until the whole recipe is finished. It is then passed one more time, opened and read, and then everyone feeds back to the class on whether their recipe would make sense and taste delicious or not. This game also works for decorating a house or classroom

6. Countable uncountable sentence completion
This is a nice personalised game that combines writing and speaking. Prepare 10 to 20 personal sentences with blanks that elicit countable and uncountable nouns, e.g. “I don’t have many_______” and “I wish I had more _________________” on a worksheet and give one worksheet to each student. Students should complete at least half the sentences. They then read out only the part of the sentence of they have written, e.g. “Friends”, and the other students guess which sentence that was written in. As a more challenging and creative extension, students can write totally original similar sentences and their classmates then try to guess the first half.

7. Countable uncountable mimes
Students try to mime words or sentences that you have prepared that include countable or uncountable nouns, e.g. “A chicken”/ “Some chickens”/”Some chicken” or “My pet is a chicken”/”I am eating some chicken”/”I am eating some chickens”.

8. Countable uncountable Pictionary
You can use the same sentences for this as for Mimes above, but it points out the difference in meaning between sentences that only vary by being countable and uncountable even better and is also perhaps more memorable.

9. Choose supplies for journey/ desert island etc
This is a popular speaking game that you can easily add countable and uncountable nouns to. The easiest way is just to prepare a list of things they could take that has a good selection of countable and uncountable nouns in it. You can add extra language practice to that by allowing them to choose the number or amount of each one they want to take. You can make the grammar practice more explicit by telling them how many countable and uncountable options they can choose, perhaps extending that to limit the number of singular and plural things they can choose as well. If you do this, you can also let them come up with their own ideas within those categories.

10. Countable uncountable board game challenge
This is similar to Choose Supplies above, but adding an extra element of luck and fun. Give students a board game you have prepared on A3 pieces of paper that has challenges on about a third of the squares, e.g. “Cross a river” and “Bear attack”. Students have to choose which supplies they are going to take before they start the game, and if they land on a challenge square as they move around the board (perhaps with the use of a dice) they have to say which of their supplies they are going to use and how to get out of that position. If they can’t think of a way out or don’t have the right supplies, they have to go back to their previous square. The first person or team to the end of the board wins.

11. Hints from history
Write texts about the history of famous or important countable and uncountable substances such as cotton, tobacco, Tippex, Coca Cola, Post Its etc, written so that there is just enough information to guess which object is being described but only after reading and thinking carefully. When the class have checked their answers, students can then get extra practice by testing each other on the information in the text or by researching and writing a similar text for something else. Alternatively, you can read the texts out one sentence at a time until they guess what is being described.

12. Health questionnaires
Students answer and/ or write questionnaires to find out how healthy their lifestyles are, including lots of “How many” and “How much” questions. This can also be done with other subjects, such as “How intelligent are you?” and “How good are you at managing your money?”

13. Find what’s wrong
Prepare sentences that describe problems, e.g. “There isn’t any air” or “There isn’t a toilet” on slips of paper. Tell students what situation they are in (e.g. asking about a potential blind date, looking for a house or trying to find a nice restaurant) and get them to ask their partner questions until they find out what is wrong with the person or place their partner has information about. The class can then discuss which of the problems is most and least serious, and what the solutions could be.

14. Ingredients challenge
Students are given a list of ingredients and have to try to make a recipe from it. This also works with other teams deciding which ingredients they will be allowed, teams taking turns to choose ingredients from the board, or taking cards with ingredients written on them randomly from a pack. You can also play similar games trying to make inventions from scrap parts.

15. Improve the town presentations
Students write sentences about what is wrong with the town where they live and what they will do to improve it, perhaps with the help of sentence stems like “There isn’t enough…” and “There are too many…” They then present these to the class and each team votes for the ideas of another team that they liked best. This also works with improving the classroom, their education system, the local High Street, the whole country etc.

Written by Alex Case for TEFL.net
May 2009 | Filed under Games, Grammar
There are links to more than 400 articles and 1000 worksheets plus 1500 blog posts by Alex Case on TEFLtastic blog.

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