Kim’s Game – Tefl Activity

Kim’s Game is a simple (and classic) game which can be played to help memorize a group of objects. As such it’s a good game to help students learn vocabulary‏‎, especially objects within a certain semantic field.

Note that in general this works better with concrete nouns‏‎.


First off, collect together a group of items in the same semantic field, for example kitchen utensils, office equipment, fruit and so on. The items should be familiar to your class and of a suitable level for the class.

If it’s more practical, you can use good quality photographs of different objects (suppose, for example, you are teaching business people who need to know the names of various pieces of machinery, etc…).






Before the class arrives, arrange the items on a desk and cover them with a cloth. Don’t let the students see what’s beneath the cloth and so when they arrive, they will immediately be intrigued by what’s being hidden. You can use this as a starter for the activity: a brief discussion with the class on what might be under the cloth based on the shape and size of what they can see, etc.

Playing the Game
Arrange the class into small groups. Make sure that all desks are cleared and no student has pen or paper to write anything down.

Explain that under the cloth there are a number of items. You will show them to the silent class for 60 seconds. After that each group must write down the name of as many objects as they can remember – in English of course!

Gather the class around the desk and then remove the cloth and show them the items for exactly 60 seconds before replace the cloth.

Back in their groups, the students try to remember what they have just seen. If you prefer you can organize some kind of points system, perhaps a point for a correct guess and another for a correct spelling and so on depending on the level of the class.


Although the game is quite old, the name derives from Rudyard Kipling’s novel, Kim, where the young hero plays this game as part of his training to become a spy. In the novel it’s called Play of the Jewels and The Jewel Game although these days it’s more well known simply as Kim’s Game.

The video here is a clip from the 1950 film of Kim where the eponymous hero enters his training and plays the game for the first time.

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Posted in Lesson Plans & Activities.

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