Idiom Practice

My students have a love-hate relationship with idioms. They appreciate how descriptive idioms are but hate how difficult they can be to learn. Consequently, idioms are something we practice quite often, and hence have quite a few games we like to play as we do. Here are the current top four picks in my high-intermediate and advanced classes:

Idiom Grid Conquest

Grid Conquest is one of my general-purpose go-to games. I originally introduced it back in November in the post, Grid Conquest, which included a download of the game board (which is included under the picture here as well). For the idiom-specific version, Idiom Grid Conquest, I have cards with 96 English idioms on them. I mix the cards up in a container of some type

(old tissue boxes work well), and students take turns drawing them out on their turns. The student then attempts to explain the idiom in his/her own words. If successful, he/she colors a square on the game board. If not, the turn is forfeited, and the next student gets to go.

Idiom Jeopardy

Jeopardy is another favorite general-purpose game in my classroom. A PowerPoint template for creating your own Jeopardy games was first offered with the Phrasal Verb Jeopardy post last month and is provided again below the picture here. My Idiom Jeopardy is only one round with five

categories (body parts, weather, love, baseball, around the house). Each category has six idioms for a total of 30 idioms. Each “clue” is an idiom that students must explain the meaning of to get their points. I prefer playing Jeopardy in PowerPoint because it’s possible to set hyperlinks to automatically change color when clicked. I have found a few tricks for playing in Google Slides, though, and I have a Google Slide Idiom Jeopardy game that practices the same 30 idioms.

Idiom Feud

Feud is one of my newer game obsessions. It makes use of triggered animations so things disappear after being selected, and you can click on elements of the slide without having

to follow a pre-set order. A how-to post is coming soon with step-by-step directions for making your own feud games, but for now, let me tell you about this specific version. The play is loosely based on the game show Family Feud. It is essential to first print out the round answer keys before playing so you, the moderator, will know where to click.

In the first version, Idiom Feud, students are divided into two teams. One player from each team is called to the front and stands facing one another. You will need to decide how students will indicate they have the answer. Some possibilities include having them slap a bell, hit a buzzer, raise a hand, or use a fly swatter to swat a sign on the board (Slap! style). Once students understand how to indicate they have an answer, read the category. The first student to indicate he/she can state an idiom in the category gets to answer. If the answer is on the board (the reason you printed off the round answer keys), reveal it by clicking the cover. That student’s team gets to decide whether they want to play the round. If the answer is not on the board, the second student gets the chance to steal the right to choose who plays by attempting to name an idiom on the board. The team designated to play the round then gives answers, one at a time. If the answers are on the board, the teacher reveals them by clicking on the cover. Each answer is worth the number of points indicated on the slide; the order in which they appear does not matter. A student who names an idiom on the board can earn 20 bonus points for his/her team by stating what the idiom means. For each answer given that is not on the board, the teacher clicks the strike buttons, causing an X to appear. If all of the answers are revealed before a team gets three strikes, that team earns all of the points for that round. If a team reaches three strikes before revealing all of the answers, the opposing team gets the chance to steal. They work together to choose one answer. If the answer is on the board, that team steals all of the points earned thus far in that round, and the remaining answers are revealed. If the opposing team cannot name an idiom on the board, the original team keeps the points.

In the second version, Idiom Category Choice Feud (included in the same game purchase/download). The start of play is a bit different. Students are still divided into two teams, but instead of a face-off, the first team chooses a category from the board. That team then gives answers, as in Idiom Feud, until all of the answers are revealed, or three strikes are earned. Scoring, and the opposing team’s possible chance to steal, are the same as in Idiom Feud.

Idiom Fortune Hunting

Another new obsession of mine is Fortune Hunting (a how-to post for creating coming soon). This is also a PowerPoint game that uses action triggers to cause things to appear and disappear

based on what you click. While the Class Feud games have similarities to Family Feud, Idiom Fortune Hunting (and other Fortune Hunting games) have similarities to Wheel of Fortune in their play.

In the picture, you see the Fortune Zone, a black box, the Alphabet Bank, an idiom, an answer button, and a next puzzle button. When you play the game, the idiom will not be visible, only the lines indicating the number of letters in each word. On a player or team’s turn, he/she will choose a fortune by clicking one of the yellow boxes in the Fortune Zone. This will reveal the number of points earned if a correct consonant is chosen. It will also reveal one piece of the picture clue. Students should beware, though, as there are five negative fortunes. While an adverse fortune still reveals part of the picture clue, it will immediately end one’s turn. Assuming the player has chosen a favorable fortune, the player then selects a consonant from the Alphabet Bank. Once clicked on, the consonant will disappear, and if it appears in the target idiom, it will automatically do so in all of the correct places. If the consonant appears in the idiom, the player/team earns the number of points revealed in the fortune zone, multiplied by the number of times the consonant occurs in the word and the right to continue his/her turn. If the consonant is not in the idiom, nothing will happen, and the turn is over.

If the player/team’s turn continues, he/she has a choice in how to proceed:

  • A vowel may be purchased. If the vowel is in the idiom, the turn continues. If the vowel is not in the idiom, the turn ends.
  • Another fortune may be chosen from the Fortune Zone. If the fortune is positive, a consonant may be selected. If the fortune is negative, the turn ends.
  • An attempt can be made to solve the clue. If the idiom is correctly stated, the player/team earns 1,000 points. If the idiom is not correctly stated, the player/team loses 1,000 points. Once the idiom has been revealed, the player/team can earn a bonus of 1,000 points by explaining the idiom’s meaning. If the player/team cannot explain the idiom’s meaning, the opposing player/team can steal the bonus points by explaining the meaning.
  • The turn may be voluntarily passed to the next player/team.

If the puzzle has not been solved after all 20 fortunes have been revealed, the current player must try to solve it. Correct answers are now worth 500 points, and incorrect answers negative 250 points. Once a puzzle has been solved, whether correctly or incorrectly, play continues by clicking “Next Puzzle.”


While these are the current four favorite games in my high-intermediate and advanced classes, they are not the only ways we practice idioms. In reality, it doesn’t matter what we do to practice; my students always find idioms interesting and frustrating. One thing I know they’ll do, though, is ask for more practice opportunities in the future! Happy teaching, everyone.

Here are those links again, as well as a couple other options:

Get all of the idiom activities in one download at a 20% discount: