Musical Markers

The Musical Markers ESL game is an alternative to Musical Chairs in which students have to grab a marker instead of sitting down.

Students for Musical Markers ESL Game:6+Time for Musical Markers ESL Game:10-20 mins
Resources for Musical Markers ESL Game:
Markers; Music; Internet or Prepared Challenges

You will need a set of suitable challenges (i.e. questions, description tasks) according to your level and target language. If you have an Internet connection (and ideally a projector), use our Challenge Generator.

If not, prepare the challenges on slips of paper and put them in a box/hat. Post-it notes stuck on a whiteboard or table (text on the back) also work well.

In class, move one or two desks to the centre of the room and clear the surrounding space. Arrange some markers (one less than the number of students) in a circle on the desk.

  1. Students circle around the desk while you play some music.
  2. At a random time, stop the music; the students have to grab a marker as quickly as possible.
  3. The student left without a marker has to complete one of the challenges as a forfeit.

As the game progresses, try taking away more markers and having more students complete a forfeit. This is useful for roleplay challenges (see below).

Tip: This activity can work really well with kids but it depends on your group; it definitely has the potential to descend into random grabbing/hitting of the markers!

Target Language

You can use the Musical Markers ESL game to review almost any topic you’ve been studying, simply by setting appropriate challenges. As such, it can be adapted for all levels, beginner, intermediate or advanced.

If you take away more than one marker, you can also use it to select students for roleplay tasks. Try our Roleplay Generator as a way to generate random roleplays.

Got a picture or video of this activity in action? How about snapping one next time you use it? We'd love to showcase your submissions- find out more here.