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Twenty Twenty

Target: commands orders
Age: kindergarten aged and up
Duration: 1-2 minutes
Class Size: works better with large classes
Energy Level: high
Type: physical
Equipment: timer

Imperative commands are easy for children to learn and can be attractive, especially when it is the children giving the commands and the teacher following the orders.

When I first meet a class I'll often do imperative commands using a timer. I set it for 20 seconds and give simple commands starting with stand up, sit down and jump. Later I'll add commands like hop, spin, turn around etc.

When I'm working with a partner the children can learn by observation. I stand and give commands and my partner obeys them. If I'm working alone I'll start by doing the actions but once the children start obeying the commands I stop doing them. From a language point of view it's important that children can distinguish between the phrases "Jump!" and "Let's jump!"

The timer is to regulate who gives the commands. After 20 seconds of me giving the commands I get the children sitting down and tell them (in English) it is their turn to give me commands. I make sure they are aware of the timer and the time limit. I stand and wait for them to give me commands. After the time limit is up I say, "My turn!" and I give them commands for another 20 seconds.

Often it takes several 'turns' before the children realise the structure of the game. It's important at first to pick up on the slightest whisper or puzzled statement. If working with a partner the partner can give one or two commands though it is best to give children space to figure things out on their own.


It helps to be aware of the time and if possible be interrupted by the timer: "Everybody....(Beep Beep) doh! Sit Down!" The more humorous the better.

It can sometimes be difficult to do this activity with kindergarten children because they tend to join in when giving commands. It's very important to have them sitting down before starting your turn to perform commands. Sometimes a little perseverance is required before they get the idea of taking turns.

Many children are fond of jumps. A useful phrase to bring in is "Do a big jump" - this allows various extensions, for example, I've had "Do a super double spin jump!" thrown at me. Twenty seconds is very short - but it can also be a very long time!

Large classes can get so noisy it is impossible to hear the commands. One way to reduce the noise is to divide the children into groups and groups take turns giving orders, the other groups just watch.

For a similar activity see King For A Bit.

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