Time Bomb Hot Potato

The Time Bomb Hot Potato ESL game is a variation on Hot Potato, using a countdown timer instead of music.

Students for Time Bomb Hot Potato ESL Game:4+Time for Time Bomb Hot Potato ESL Game:10-20 mins
Resources for Time Bomb Hot Potato ESL Game:
Ball; Countdown Timer; 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.

For countdown timers, try this site – kids will especially like the bomb timers.

  1. Set a countdown timer going. Don’t show the students the timer or tell them the time set!
  2. Students stand in a circle and throw the ball to each other in a random order.
  3. The student holding the ball when the timer goes off has to complete a challenge as a forfeit.

For an extra twist, why not try adding another ball into the mix? That way one student can ask a question and one can answer it. This is great if you want to repeat the game without your students getting bored.

Target Language

You can use the Time Bomb Hot Potato ESL game to review almost any topic you’ve been studying- just adapt the challenges according. As such, you can use it with any level, beginner, intermediate or advanced. You could even add in a couple of silly forfeits, like “stand on one leg for the next two rounds”.

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.