Simon Says

The purpose of this activity is to allow each student to demonstrate understanding of target language sentences by listening carefully and selectively following instructions based on what Simon says. This activity works well as a target language brain break to get students out of their seats and moving around while maintaining use of the target language.


  1. The teacher asks students to stand up and move their desks and chairs out of the way, if necessary.

  2. The teacher says a sentence in the target language. The teacher should randomly alternate between sentences beginning with “Simon says…” and sentences that do not include the words “Simon says…”.

  3. The students listen and every time they hear a sentence beginning with “Simon says…”, they follow Simon’s directions. If the teacher did not say “Simon says…” and a student follows the instructions anyway, they are "out" and sit down.

Adaptation for Online/Distance Learning

  1. This activity requires the use of cameras. This activity could be used as a physical movement brain break for any level of class.  

  2. Students turn their cameras on. The teacher can remind students to use a virtual background if they wish to do so.

  3. The teacher selects “grid view” in their video conferencing software to be able to see as many students as possible.

  4. When a student is "out", they can be asked to place an icon on their image. Then, those students should post suggested command statements in using a chat feature. The teacher monitors chat and uses some of the statements deciding whether to add "Simon Says" to the command or not. Alternatively, the teacher saves student suggestions for a future game. 

Helpful Tips

  1. For language learning purposes, the teacher should not feel restricted to only using parts of the body. Simon could also instruct students to point to a picture of a vocabulary word displayed in the classroom. 

  2. The teacher should feel free to change the name “Simon” to something more appropriate to the target language and culture if desired.

  3. The teacher should set a timer for a limited, random amount of time. When the timer goes off, all who are standing are winners. At this point, the game either concludes or starts over with all students participating again. 

  4. Students who have been eliminated can be assigned an alternate task to keep them engaged. For example: tracking the expression used by "Simon" on a graphic organizer.


  1. To make this activity a true “you do alone” task, the teacher could instruct students to close their eyes at the beginning of the game so that they cannot rely on the actions of others when they do not understand.

  2. Higher proficiency students in the class could be asked to be Simon.

  3. Lower proficiency students in the class could be Simon by reading pre-written sentences from a list and choosing when to say "Simon says..."


  1. Timer