Balloon Volleyball/ Keep Of The Ground Icebreaker
Balloons aren't just for kids, all ages can warm up and ice cold scared ESL students can soon forget their inhibitions just by adding some balloons into the mix. 
Balloon Volleyball can be played in the same way as real volleyball allowing 3 touches per team before getting the ball over a line/net/desks to the team on the other side. To add the essential learning aspect into the game, call a category from which students must loudly call out a word every time they hit the balloon. For example you could say to your students for the first point you must all call an ANIMAL in English every time you hit the balloon. Categories chosen should obviously depend somewhat on your students language capabilities but some obvious ideas  might be
  • Colours
  • Countries
  • Girls Names
  • Boys Names
  • Sports
  • Food and Drink (Fruit/Vegetables/Junk Food)
  • Capital Cities
  • Class Subjects
  • Singers/Actors/Actresses
  • Words associated with...Winter, Summer, Autumn, Spring, Beach, holidays etc

I  think you get the idea...and remember this is an icebreaker or warm up so don't get too caught up on thinking it's too easy for more advanced students. It's a heap of fun and a great way to get students relaxed.

Alternative Ways To Play And Ideas
Keep It Off The Floor 
If you are stretched for space in your class, check if you can take your students outside OR forget about the line and just keep students seated at their desks turning it into a game of "keep the balloon off the floor" with no teams, just each student calling a correct answer as they hit the balloon if it comes to them.
Colours Mix and Smash
This one is particularly good for kids learning colours but also super fun to throw in at the end of a "Balloon Volleyball" or "Keep It Of The Floor Game". Blow up a whole heap of different coloured balloons and as an extension of the other two balloon games, slowly keep introducing one balloon at a time into the game play, until you have many different coloured balloons all flying around all at once.. As a specific coloured balloon comes to a student, they must say that colour as they hit the balloon (depending on your students level, you may prefer to make each colour a specific group for example RED- Animals, BLUE- Countries, PINK- Girls names etc). Depending on how many balloons you want to add and probably also the size of your class, this is a huge smash and call game that see's balloons pinging all over the room and students gleefully using English without the stress sometimes involved. 

The Final Word
There must be a plethora of ways to introduce balloons into the ESL classroom but the few variations I have just mentioned, for myself, always result in successful class icebreakers, warm-ups and even vocabulary reviews for all ages and levels of ESL classes that I teach.
If you have any other cool Balloon ideas that you have successfully integrated in to your classroom, feel free to add it in to the comments below.
 

 
 
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Name Chant Ice Breaker/Warm Up. 
This is primarily an ice breaker or warm up but I found it an amazingly useful tool in getting students to speak up and be heard. Often combating shyness, many students speak at no higher in volume than a mouse whisper, but with this activity they have to be heard to play. It's great for  learning to remember classmates names, pronounce complicated names and coordinate doing something else (clapping and tapping the rhythm) all whilst having to speak out and have a great time (multitask extreme). Here is a video of a Chinese class playing name chant in a huge group. Activity Instructions below video.

Firstly for this activity you need to get the students seated in a circle. NOTE- This can also be played within smaller groups but you need to have enough space to distance them apart a little.
Secondly, teach them to slap their hands on their thighs twice and clap their hands twice, whilst keeping a constant mesmerising rhythm. Everyone should be participating by playing the rhythm at the same time, however, only one person will be speaking at one time. Pick one student to start the chant. The first time they double clap their hands they will say their own name, the second time they double clap their hands they will say another students name.(The tap tap in between gives that moment of thinking time) Whoever's name was called, immediately carries on the chant by saying their own name followed by another students name and so on.

Note: If you want to make this a competition, all of the following things will deem you out of the game, meaning you must fold your arms and no longer continue to slap your thighs and clap your hands.

  • No stopping is allowed, if you stop and break the chant, you are out.
  • If you say the name of a person who is already out, you too will strike out.
  • You cant immediately repeat the name of the person who called your name i.e. no pin ponging back and forth between two people.
  • If you break the rhythm, are too slow to answer or can't think of your name or someone else's name in time.
  • If you forget to say your name first and immediately call another students name instead.
As always written explanations can be a bit confusing so maybe you would like to also show your students the video.