This activity is variously known as kaboom, earthquake and typhoon, perhaps depending on which staffroom or hemisphere you are teaching in.

It’s a good staple for kids courses; it’s gone down well whenever I’ve used it, even with adults. It’s also very versatile, it can be used for revision of any recently studied language, and the competitive element makes it ideal for a stirrer activity to liven up bored teens, or as a reward at the end of a kids class.

The basic procedure:

1. Before class, the teacher prepares a list of questions for the students to answer. These could be related to recently studied language, general knowledge, or a mix of both.

2. T prepares a small grid with a combination of ?s, Bs and Ks


3. T draws the following grid on the board.


4. Split the class into 2 or 3 teams, asking them to come up with a team name (an adjective and an animal usually works well, e.g. The Crazy Rabbits).

5. Explain that each team takes turns choosing squares and under each square are 3 possibilities:
– a question – if they get this right, they get 50 points for their team.
– a bonus – they get 25 points for free (no question)
– a kaboom! – the team loses all their points.

6. Teams start choosing squares, answering questions, T keeps score on the board.

7. The winning team is the team with the most points at the end. The board will look something like this at the end:


Some tweaks

– You could have different levels of difficulty for the questions, some squares could have ?? and be worth 75 points for example.
– You could add some ‘C’ squares to the board, if they get a ‘C’, they exchange points with the other team.
– Once students have become familiar with the activity, you could hand over to them, get them to create questions and grids and do the activity in smaller groups, or get one student to be the teacher.
– Instead of coordinates, you could use phonemes as in the example below. Ss then rather than saying D2. have to say ‘cheese’, and A1 becomes ‘pear’ for example.

(This idea is adapted from Phoneme Battleships in Pronunciation Games by Mark Hancock.)

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12 Responses to Kaboom!

  1. Nikki says:

    This is just the versatile activity I’ve been looking for! Thanks for sharing 🙂


  2. Emma GL says:

    My class of 11-year-olds is going to love this! Thank you!


  3. This is still an old favourite! I added in a ‘S’ square (“borrowed” the idea from a colleague in Buenos Aires” where they can steal points from the other teams. I do it so they can take 50 points from 1 team or 25 from two different teams (depending on how much maths you want to get into!)
    Another variation I do is if no teams can get the answer right, I get the points:)
    My new students here in Spain already love it, although they insist on calling it “boom”


  4. jonnyingham says:

    Good to hear it’s crossed continents with you Emma! I like the ‘stealing points’ idea and the teacher getting points too! Thanks!


  5. bettyd says:

    Thanks for sharing such a creative team game!!!I can use it in classes of any level!!Wonderful!!


  6. Pingback: Kaboom! | TeachingEnglish | Scoop.it

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  9. Laila says:

    Can you please explain how the students choose the squares..I mean if they see the signs they would never choose ‘K’s I didnt understand please write an example of how they choose step by step
    thank you!


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