Bingo is a simple but enjoyable game played with cards, counters, and prompts. It works as a whole class activity, with each individual using their card. It’s a popular game among teachers and can be used as a revision activity or for fun.

The game is played by players listening to prompts given by a teacher (or caller) and covering squares on their bingo cards with counters when they match the prompt. When players have a row covered in counters, they call out ‘BINGO’ to win the game.

How to play Bingo

Bingo is easy to set up and play with children of all ages. Here is a step-by-step breakdown of how to play classic bingo. For this example, we’ll look at using numbers, though

  1. Print out a set of bingo cards. If you like, you can also laminate them to use again and again for future games. There should be enough so every student can have a different bingo card, with varying numbers in their squares (though the same number can be used on a few other cards).
  2. Equip every student with a bingo card and enough counters to cover up all their numbers. If you don’t have counters, you can use torn-up pieces of paper, or students can even cross out their answers with a pencil.
  3. Call out a prompt. It could be a sum adding up to a number or simply a number. For example, if the answer you wanted to call is 16, you could call out ’16’ or ’14 + 2′.
  4. After calling the prompt, give the students time to cover up the correct square with a counter (usually about 10 seconds). Then repeat this process.
  5. If a student has a row of numbers covered up, they yell BINGO to claim their win. Depending on the format of your card, this could be horizontal, vertical, diagonal, or all of the above.
  6. If a student calls out BINGO, but it turns out to be a false alarm, the game continues until someone gets a real BINGO. However, the student with the false alarm cannot call out BINGO again during that round.

Using Bingo as a Learning Activity

In the above breakdown of ‘how to play Bingo, ‘ we use the classic bingo example involving cards with numbers. However, this is only one of many ways you can play bingo. The cards and prompts can be easily adapted to transform your bingo game into a learning activity for any topic you can think of.

Here are some suggestions for variations for teaching different topics. Hopefully, they’ll inspire you to get creative with your bingo cards.

  • Sight Words. Fill the bingo cards with pictures that match a list of sight words, then call out the sight words as prompts.
  • Telling Time. Fill the bingo cards with pictures of analog clocks displaying different times. Then, call out the time and challenge the children to cover up the clocks that match.
  • Call out definitions of words and challenge children to cover up the matching vocabulary words on their cards.
  • Write words from a language your class is learning on the cards, then call out the words in the language they’re comfortable in. Students have to cover up the correct translation of each word.
  • Socialising Bingo. Great for breaking the ice at the beginning of the year. Students are given a bingo card with questions and need to walk around the classroom and talk to each other to find the answers. The questions will ask them to find different classmates who fit certain criteria. Then, whoever fills out their card first can yell BINGO.
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