How To Kit

About This Event

Literacy Games for Adults


People of all ages can play literacy games. They can be a lot of

fun. They can:

• help reduce tension

• make the learning environment more comfortable

• help build positive relationships, and . . .

• they’re also educational.

And . . . you can play them in any language—English, French,

or an Aboriginal language!




1. Ask participants to choose a theme, such as literacy, home, school,

children, etc.

2. Give each participant a Bingo Card (attached), or ask them to make

their own.

3. Ask participants to call out 16 words related to that theme, one

word at a time—for example, kitchen, garden, etc.

4. Write each word on the board or a flipchart. At the same time, ask

each participant to write the word in any of the boxes.

5. Call out the words at random. The first participant to get a straight

line and call out “Bingo!” is the winner.

6. You can play this game using French or an Aboriginal language.

Choose a topic like animals or the land, or another topic where

people might be familiar with the words. You can call the game

another name, if that is more appropriate for your community.


Group Bingo

1. Divide participants into groups of 4 or 5.

2. Give each group a piece of flipchart paper and ask them to fold

their sheet into 16 boxes.

3. Give a different coloured marker to each group.

4. Using themes like food, cars, countries, etc., ask participants to

call out the names of examples for that theme.

5. Write one word at a time on the board. At the same time, ask

groups to write the word in any box on their sheet of paper.

Make sure everyone gets a chance to write. When all 16 boxes

are filled, each group will have a different Bingo card.

6. For the first game, the participants circle the word on their sheet

when they hear it. Call out the words randomly and put a circle

beside each one that you call out. When a group has a whole

line, they win.

7. Now ask groups to exchange papers.

8. For the second game, they mark the words with an “X”. When a

group has a straight line, they win.

9. Exchange the papers again, and continue to play like this until all

the words have been called.

10. You can also play this game using French or an Aboriginal




1. Divide participants into groups of 5.

2. Each member of the group donates the first and last letter of their

first and last names. For example, Bill Smith donates ‘b’, ‘l’, ‘s’

and ‘h’.

3. Each group should have 20 letters.

4. Together, the group writes down as many words as they can, using

these letters.

5. When the facilitator calls “Time!”, the groups must stop writing.

6. Each group reads out their words. The one with the most words



Alphabet Scavenger Hunt

1. Divide participants into groups of 4 or 5.

2. They must use all 26 letters of the alphabet for the scavenger hunt.

3. In their groups, participants try to find something in the room that

they can see that begins with each letter of the alphabet. They

need only one thing for each letter.

4. The first group to find things for all 26 letters reads out their

words. If the words are all OK, this group is the winner. If any are

not OK, the game continues until another group finishes.


Paper Bag Skits

1. Divide the participants into groups of 3 to 6 people.

2. Give each group a paper bag filled with a variety of objects, such

as a wooden spoon, a hammer, a toy car, a ball, etc.

3. Each group makes up a skit (or short play) using all of the props in

the bag. The props may be used as they are used in everyday life,

or they may be used imaginatively.

4. When all the skits have been planned and rehearsed, each group

performs theirs for the other groups.

5. This game may also be played using French or an Aboriginal



People Poems

1. Ask the participants to use the letters in their names to create a

poem. Each line begins with the letters of their name in order.

They need only one word in each line.

2. The words must tell something about themselves—for example,

something they like to do, or a personal characteristic.

3. When they have finished the poems, ask them to share their poem

with the other participants.

4. Participants may use a dictionary to help them find words.

5. You can also make up community poems describing your

community, using the letters in the name of your community.

For example: Catherine might write…



1. Divide the participants into groups of 4 or 5.

2. Ask the participants call out 10 different categories of objects—for

example, river, food, car, girls’ name, animal, country, etc. The

more categories you have, the longer each game will be.

3. Write the categories on the board or a flipchart paper.

4. Ask one of the participants to choose a letter of the alphabet—for

example, ‘m’.

5. When the facilitator says “Go!”, all the groups have to try to write

down an example for each category beginning with that letter.

6. You can do this in an Aboriginal language. Instead of using a

particular letter, you may want to use only the category to make it

easier. You decide!

For example:

  • River Mackenzie
  • Food mushrooms
  • Cars Mercedes Benz
  • Girls’ name Mary
  • Animal marten
  • Country Mexico


Food for Thought

1. Have participants sit in a circle.

2. Each participant has to say their name and also a food they like

that begins with the same first letter as their first name. For

example, “My name is Jeanie and I like jerky.”

3. The next participant does the same, but also repeats the previous

one. For example, “My name is Frank and I like french fries.

She’s Jeanie and she likes jerky.”

4. And so on round the circle. It gets harder the more participants

you have.


Fishbowl Sentences

1. Divide the participants into two equal groups.

2. Ask each group to form a circle, one inside the other.

3. Play some music. As the music is playing, the outside circle

moves in a clockwise direction and the inside circle moves


4. When the music stops the two people opposite each other pair up

and have to finish a sentence that the facilitator begins. If they

have time left, they can discuss their answers.

5. Then start the music again. The next time the music stops, each

participant should have a new partner, and complete another



Sentence Starters

1. I like people who . . .

2. The funniest thing I ever saw was . . .

3. I’d like to have . . .

4. The riskiest thing I ever did was . . .

5. I hate it when . . .

6. My favourite music is . . .

7. Last night, I . . .

8. The best gift I ever received was . . .

9. In the future, I’ll . . .

10. I wish . . .

11. I could not live without . . .

12. I have never . . .

13. Everybody should . . .

14. ………………………. makes me feel good.

15. If I had a $1,000,000 I would . . .


Community Literacy Scavenger Hunt

1. Divide the participants into groups of 4 or 5.

2. Each group has to go around the community looking for words in

the Aboriginal language of the community.

3. Ask them to write down the words or phrases, and where they are


4. Then they have to find out what the words or phrases mean. They

may know themselves, find out from the English translation, or ask

someone who can speak the language.

5. When they have twenty words or phrases, they should return to the

starting place.

6. The first team back is the winner.


Crazy Word Chains

1. Ask the participants to sit in a circle.

2. Have them clap a slow rhythm.

3. The first participant says any word to the time of the rhythm.

4. The next participant must then say a word that begins with the last

letter of the previous word.

For example:

APPLE . . . ELEPHANT . . . TOY. . . YELL. . . LOON . . . NIGHT

5. The game starts over when a participant misses a turn or says a

wrong word.

6. You can also play this game in French or an Aboriginal language.


Mystery Boxes

(This game takes longer to complete and may be more suitable for a

classroom setting.)

1. Participants each have to make a mystery box. Find a suitable box.

On the outside of the box, draw or paste magazine pictures of

characters, settings, and objects related to a crime they have in

mind. Cover the box completely. They can make it more difficult

if they add more characters, or more than one setting.

2. Then add the name of a crime to the outside, such as snowmobile

theft, kidnapping, break and entry, etc.: it can be written on a piece

of paper, or made with letters cut from a magazine or newspaper.

3. Now put a clue inside the box. They may write it on a piece of

paper or put an object into the box, like a hammer, a letter, etc.

(Do not put anything of value into the box.)

4. When the boxes are complete, participants exchange their box with

someone else.

5. They then try to create, either orally or in writing, the mystery

story that is suggested by the box. They may introduce additional

characters and supply further detail, but they must use all the

information that is on the outside and inside of the box.


Twenty Questions

1. Choose any item that people might be familiar with. For example,

you might choose Stephen Kakfwi, or snowmobile, or banana, or


2. Participants then have to try to guess the item, but can ask only

questions with “Yes” or “No” or “I don’t know” answers. For

example, “Is it a person?” “Is the person male or female?” “Does

he live in Canada?” “Does he live in the Northwest Territories?”

“Is he a politician?” “ Is he Stephen Kakfwi?” Etc.

3. The game is over if twenty questions have been asked and no one

has guessed the right answer.

4. If someone guesses the right answer, that person can choose the

next item and answer the questions.

5. You might also play this as a vocabulary game in an Aboriginal




1. You need many short sentences or phrases written on strips of

paper. For example:

He goes bowling every week.

She often orders pizza for supper.

My father went to hunt ducks last weekend.

2. Put the strips of paper in a box or bag.

3. Divide participants into groups of 4 or 5.



1. Divide the participants into groups of 4 or 5.

2. Give each group a piece of flipchart paper with a room of the

house written on it—for example, kitchen. Also give each group a

different coloured marker.

3. Give the group a short length of time to write examples of print

they might see in that room—for example, fridge magnets.

4. At the end of the time period, the group exchanges their paper with

another group, and continues writing things for their new room.

They cannot write anything that is already written on their paper.

5. At the end of the period, change papers again.

6. Continue until all ideas are exhausted.

7. Each group shares its last paper with all the groups.

8. You can play this game with a variety of topics. All you need is a

topic that lends itself to a variety of situations. For example:

• Helpful Hints (Health, Learning, Living, Cleaning, Children,


• Transportation (on the land, in the water, in the air, etc.)

• Our natural world (plants, animals, constellations, weather, etc.)

9. You can also play this game using an Aboriginal

language. For example, participants might have to

write down things they would find in different parts

of the house, or in the hospital, etc.

4. One participant from one team draws a sentence or phrase out of

the bag. They then act out the charade (the sentence or phrase),

while the rest of the team tries to guess what it is.

5. The team gets one point if they guess the complete sentence within

the time limit.

6. Other teams must watch quietly until it is their team’s turn.


Baggage Claim

1. Give each participant a baggage card. Have them “pack their

bags” by writing five interesting facts about their lives on the bag.

Try to have them use facts that other people may not know about

them. This will make the game a little more difficult.

2. Collect the cards.

3. Participants now have to pretend they are getting off a flight and

they are going to the baggage area to get their bag. Only they

“accidentally” pick up someone else’s bag. (In other words, they

get someone else’s card.)

4. They then have to go around the room questioning the other

participants until they find out whose bag they have.


Baggage Claim Card

What’s the Question?

1. Write one fact on the board. For example:

• Yellow, or

• 5 years, or

• MacDonald’s

2. Participants try to guess the question that matches each fact.

For example:

Yellow: What’s your favourite colour?

What colour is your car?

What colour is your parka?

5 years: How old is your child?

How long have you been married?

How long have you lived in Yellowknife?

MacDonald’s: What is your favourite food?

Where do you work?

Where are you going to have breakfast?

3. The person who guesses correctly gets to write the next fact on the



Penny Story Telling

1. Collect a number of pennies with different dates on them.

2. Pass them out to so that every participant gets one.

3. The idea is to look at the date and try to think of a story that

happened to them in the year that is on the penny. For example, if

the date on the penny is 1984, the person has to try to think of

something that they did or that happened to them that year.

4. It will be important to make sure that the dates are relevant to the

participants. For example, if everyone is under 20, then a coin

with 1967 will have little meaning for them.


Lie Detector

1. The facilitator writes three statements on the board.

Two are true and one is false. For example:

I have been teaching for ten years.

I have a pet rat called “Monty”.

I lived in the United States for one year.

2. Participants ask “lie detector” questions to get more information to

try to find out which statement is false.

For example:

Teaching: Where have you taught?

How long did you teach in each place?

What subject did you teach?

What year did you start teaching?

Pet: How old is Monty?

What does he eat?

Where do you keep him?

The US: Where in the US did you live?

What state was that in?

What was your zip number?

3. Participants vote on which statement is a lie.

4. Then another person gets to be the facilitator.

5. You can also play this game in small groups of 3 or 4.


Footsteps into the Past

1. Ask each participant to choose an item from the

community with some history attached to it. For

example, it could be a building, a grave, an old sign, an old boat,


2. They have to find out whatever they can about the history of the

item, and be prepared to share the information with the other


3. On a set day, the participants should go for a walk together around

the selected items. At that time, each person tells the other

participants about some of the history connected to the item.


Running dictation

1. Choose one or more short pieces of text (about 5 lines).

2. Make enough copies of the text for each pair of participants to

get one. (You can use different texts for each pair if you like,

but they need to be the same length and difficulty.)

3. Stick the texts up around the room at some distance from where

the participants are sitting.

4. One person in each pair sits on a chair with a pencil and paper.

Their partner has to stand up and run to where the text is. They

read it (probably chunk by chunk), memorize it and run back to

their partner. They have to dictate it to their partner, helping in

any way they can without writing it. For example, “Actually,

community has two ‘m’s”, and so on.

5. The winners are the first pair with the first absolutely correct

version of the text.



1. You need the names of twelve famous people or twelve

professions on slips of paper that are put into a bag.

2. Each participant chooses one of the slips of paper randomly.

3. They have to pretend they are all survivors of a shipwreck,

whose lifeboat is about to sink, unless one of them jumps


4. Each participant, in turn, must try to convince the other

participants of their value to the group and to society, in order to

save themselves.

5. When everyone has spoken, each participant votes for the

person they feel should jump out, and explains their reasons to

the rest of the group.


Brainstorm Rummy

1. Divide the participants into groups of 4 or 5.

2. Give each group a piece of flipchart paper.

3. Announce a general topic to the entire group, such as Animals,

Holidays, Vegetables, Actors, etc.

4. Give the groups one minute to brainstorm and write down as

many examples of the topic as they can.

5. When the time is up, all the teams must stop writing.

6. On the board, write Team 1, Team 2, Team 3, etc.

7. Ask each team to read out a word and write it under that team.

Once a word has been written on the board, another team may

not use it.

8. Keep going, until all the teams run out of words.

9. The team with the most words wins that round.

10. You can obviously play this game in any language.

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