ESL Game: Battleship for Prepositions of Time (AT / ON)

The game Battleship can be adapted for English class. If you aren’t familiar with the game, below are the basic instructions.

The Principles of the Game Battleship

  • Players are each given a card. The card contains two grids. One grid (Grid1) is for keeping track of your ships, and the other grid (Grid2) is to mark the position of your opponent’s ships during the game.
  • Both players are given a certain number of ships of different sizes to put on Grid1. The grids represent segments of the ocean. Players should make sure their opponents cannot see their cards (or else they will know where the ships are!). The ships can be positioned vertically or horizontally (that’s how I play). Ships cannot overlap each other.
  • The player who goes first calls out a coordinate (e.g. "B-3″). If the opponent has a ship positioned in Column B, Row 3, he says “HIT.” If not, he says “MISS.”
  • Players keep track of where their opponent ships are and are not on Grid2.
  • When all the positions a ship occupies have been hit, the defending player says “You sunk my battleship!”
  • The game is finished when one player loses all his or her battleships (his fleet). This person is the loser, and his opponent becomes the winner.

Here is the Wikipedia entry for more information: Battleship (Game)

My Game: Battleship for Prepositions of Time (AT, ON)

I have used this game with my rade 3 & 4 elementary school kids. My students enjoyed it though it took about 3 tries to successfully communicate all the rules in English.

Game Download: battleship-game-ESL.doc

Game Preview:

battleship game for English class

The three ships the students draw occupy 5, 4, & 3 spaces on the grid. The game follows the same rules as above. Days of the week and times were perfect for battleship because they provide X and Y axis for the grid. You can of course download the card and edit it. Or make your own game sheet focusing on different language.

I hope this gives you some ideas. Let me know if you have any questions. Have fun!

– Matthew Barton /

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4 comments on “ESL Game: Battleship for Prepositions of Time (AT / ON)

  1. Mauge (Posted on 4-24-2014 at 18:49) Reply

    Wow, this is like you just read my mind. I sooo needed an At/On activity, and i wanted to have them playing battleship! Thank you!!

  2. Zeenat Nisar (Posted on 5-8-2015 at 09:28) Reply

    I cannot understand please can you help me Mauge

    1. mb Post author (Posted on 5-8-2015 at 10:55) Reply

      This game is based on the popular children’s game ‘Battleship.’ The basic idea is that the players are at war with each other, and their cards represent the position of their sea fleet on the ocean. Before they start, players put their ships on the ocean (horizontally, or vertically). They cannot see where the other player has put his/her ships on their ships. Then they call out a coordinate “Thursday, 5pm.” If their opponent has a ship on that square, then it’s a ‘HIT’. They have hit their battleship. To sink the battleship, all squares the ship occupies must be hit. The player who loses all his/her ships first loses the game. Visit here for the game’s instructions:

  3. Brittany (Posted on 4-21-2016 at 08:58) Reply


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