Wednesday, 20 January 2016

Mad Libs

Happy 2016!

This one is straying a little from the active games that I've tended to focus on, but I'm really looking forward to it trying it with my classes when school starts.

This came to me in the usual round-about way - I was googling craft ideas for Miss 7, got distracted and eventually saw a reference to MadLibs in a side bar and had to google that as I had no idea what it meant. It's a cloze activity, but with a twist - or maybe a blindfold? :)

It turns out that Mad Libs are stories where you have to fill in the blanks in advance, without knowing the context, just the word type (noun, verb,, adjective, adverb, pronoun etc...). What a great way to get students to be more aware of the parts of speech!

Here's an example in English -
Before you read the story in the image below, write down one of each of the following in order:
1) adjective
2) verb
3) verb
4) verb
5) plural noun
... and so on.  this is just a taster, after all.

There are loads of examples online (I did a super quick google on Mad Lib French and there were a few there already made up), but it would be so easy to create your own that were focused on particular grammar points or vocab.  Here's an example of one that could be adapted for high school second language classes below (How to date the coolest guy / girl in school) that gets students to identify vocab related to clothes, parts of the body etc.

 The best part is, students are not just motivated to read through the story as they copy in their previously identified words, they will most likely want to share them with their friends by reading aloud (or translating the story.)  Then there's discussion about what other words would have worked (or not!)...I can see a lot of potential in this.

I think I won't tell the students in advance why they are writing down the words, just get them to make the list before handing out (or showing on the projector??) the story-with-blanks. 
What do you think? Would you use this with your classes? What changes or suggestions do you have?

Selamat bermain!

ps - here's a video example:

Tuesday, 3 November 2015


This was inspired by another improv game, with the instructions adapted from Bringyourimprov.

I imagine this primarily as a aural comprehension activity, with the teacher doing the narrating.

One of the students (or the teacher!) acts as the Narrator. They mime typing on a typewriter or computer, and pretends to read what they are typing out loud while typing. The students (who have been allocated roles before the start) act out what they hear.  The Narrator can switch to another location, introduce new character or add unexpected events. 

Students who are not participating watch carefully, and could either act as prompts to help the actors, or could take over a character if an actor makes a mistake or doesn't demonstrate their understanding well enough.

Variation (from the original instructions)- When a scene goes bad, the Narrator can mime ripping a couple of pages of his story apart, and restart the scene (or the story).

Other ideas: If you have a dress-up box, then you could add descriptions of the characters, and students need to select the appropriate clothes to wear.  
Provide props that they need to select when mentioned in the story, or perhaps there are a number of students who can be selected to be the prop.

Selamat bermain!

A conversation game

I was initially inspired by from a drama / improvisation game as explained at bringyourownimprov called Alphabet, but this is quite a way removed from that original idea.

Divide the group into two teams. The teams are each given a person's name (e.g. Jono and Sani) and line up facing each other. Each team IS that person.
The first member of the first team (Jono) begins the game by starting a conversation (e.g. "Good morning sir, can I help you?").
The first member of the second team (Sani) responds (e.g. "Good morning, yes, I'd like to buy a shirt.")
then, the second member of the first team continues the conversation as if they were the first person (Jono).
next, the second member of the second team (Sani) responds, and so on until someone can't continue the conversation, or says something that doesn't make sense given the rest of the conversation, or repeats something that has already been said (unless they make it clear that this is deliberate - e.g. "what size was that again, sir?").

The idea is that they need to listen to what comes earlier, and answer questions appropriately and use the information that has already been given in the conversation.

Alternatively, it could be a story instead of a conversation, and could just go around a circle rather than having teams. (the teams just make it clearer for the conversation as to who is who, if that makes sense!)

If you have a class with a lot of experience with oral practice that can be relied to get on with using the target language without constant monitoring, or if you have an assistant in the room, you can divide the class up into 2 or 3 groups which are then divided into teams. It would also work you are using the peg system of encouraging target language use, or appoint "TL use monitors" who give out points for people using the TL, or take them away for using English (or their background language).

To get everyone involved for the whole time (beyond just listening carefully) you could get the whole team to do appropriate actions for that person. (e.g. holding out hand to shake when the first person introduces themselves, or in the shopping for a shirt example, holding up shirts to select from, or trying on the shirt ... depending on the character).

To make it harder (e.g. for upper school classes), I'd go back to the improv game that inspired this - I've copied the instructions below.
This is a scene consisting of 26 lines of dialogue. The first line starts with a given letter (say `R`). The reply to that line must start with a `S`, and so on, until the whole alphabet has been covered. After `Z` comes `A`. Players that hesitate, use the wrong letter, uses random words or does not move along the scene are replaced by another player. 

This could be done as per the original, or as the team version I've described.

I'm going to be looking into improv games that I can adapt over the next few weeks, so hope to have some more ideas to share soon! Please drop me a line or write a comment if you have other game ideas, or to let me know what you think of this activity!
I'm off to go play pass the parcel with my Year 7s - have a great day!

Sunday, 18 October 2015

Kerajaan (Empires)

I was just thinking the other day that I should add something,  and then this morning I came across Andrew Teo's version of Empires as written up in Warta WILTA - I've copied it verbatim below. I love games that get students to use and then remember vocab items like this, and can't wait to try it out with my classes. 

Students write a word/term on one side of a small piece of paper and their name on the other side. The teacher collects and reads all the words/terms on the pieces of paper. It doesn’t matter if words/ terms are also used by other students. Students listen and remember the words.

A nominated student starts off by asking another student: “Apakah kamu ... [word/term]? The person asked answers “Ya, saya.......” or “Bukan, saya bukan..........” [if it is a noun] or “Tidak, saya tidak .......”[for verbs/adjectives]

These ways of asking and answering should be written on the board for easy reference. If the questioner gets it right, the student who answers “Ya, saya .....” is OUT of the game AND moves over to where the questioner is sitting. This student is now part of the questioner’s EMPIRE. The questioner keeps asking others as long as he/she gets right answers. If not, the person who is asked has a turn.

When a questioner asks a student who already has an ‘empire’ and gets it right, then he/she gets all of the ‘empire’. The ‘empire’ moves over to where the student who got it right sits. The student with the largest ‘empire’ [after a certain time] is the winner. Generally, in most games, I’ve found students are able to recall all the terms used and it ends up with one student being the winner.

NOTE: To speed up the game, give each student only 5 seconds to ask a question. Students who are part of someone’s ‘empire’ are to help recall what terms haven’t been used ie they are helping. 

One variation that I may make would be to write the list of words up on the board in English, so that it becomes about remembering the meaning as well as the word itself. I think that the it's important to keep the students who have already been selected engaged, so the final point that Andrew makes about them helping create the largest empire could prove to be particularly useful. I suspect that it will very quickly become a game of strategy in my classes!

What would you change? Or would you leave it as is? Do you have a favourite game or variation that I haven't included? I'd love to hear from you!

Saturday, 27 September 2014

I have... Who has...?

I hesitated to share this one for two reasons - firstly, because it does require some more preparation than most games in this blog, and secondly, because it was the first time I've used a game that was a complete failure - or so it felt at the time.
The thing that bothers me is I can't see why it failed. It's a great concept, the kids (my Year 9 class, who have been playing games with me for 2.5 years now) agreed that it should work... but it just didn't.
The instructions (pinched directly from Games in the Foreign Language Classroom, which has a great range of games with clear instructions), are copied at the bottom of this post. You may want to read them first before reading about how it went with my class...

We played it with weather & cities ("It's raining in Surakarta, what's the weather like in Banda Aceh?").
Coming up with more than 50 places so that the kids would get at least 2 cards each took a little research!  I tried not to repeat the weather types too much, by giving different combinations and by adding modifiers (very, a little) etc where I could. Next time I'd add temperatures as well. To give students a reason to listen, I made them write down the weather of the place they were asking for. I used English only on the cards, and the weather was dot-points rather than a sentence.

The kids and I found it frustrating as it only took a momentary lapse of concentration for someone to not hear the question that corresponded with their card, so there were long pauses and quite a bit of repetition across the class (Who has Sulawesi? Alice, do you have Sulawesi?" - poor Alice was the first one to not hear her place, and so when the next pauses occurred, everyone immediately blamed her - yes, the name has been changed!)

BUT - on reflection:
  • the students did hear the question and relevant sentences over and over without being bored by it.
  • the students practiced asking about and giving details about the weather
  • the students were exposed to a lot of Indonesian cities, regions and places that they hadn't heard before (as well as some familiar ones) - and this prompted discussion about where places were, similarities in names as well as differences and the fact that some place names were similar to familiar words.
  • Most of the frustration expressed and resolved in the target language (eg, other people around the room repeating the question or asking poor Alice directly in Indonesian rather than in English)
So - yes, I will use this again. Perhaps I'll experiment first with that Year 9 class now that they know how to play, experimenting with dividing them into smaller groups as is suggested at the end of the instructions at Games in the Foreign Language Classroom. I also didn't use a stopwatch - maybe this would add a little more excitement & "need for speed" so I will definitely incorporate a timer next time I give it a go.

Maybe it was just because it was the last lesson of the day of the last Monday of what has felt like a long term... (they did much better with Weather Battleships the next day!)

Do you have any other ideas on what could make this work? I'd love to hear from you!

I have __, Who has ___?
• Teacher must prepare cards carefully in advance as follows:
o Each card has “I have” and a vocabulary word in the TL on the top half.
o On the bottom half the card has “Who has” and a different vocabulary word pictured or in English.
o The cards “chain” so that eventually they circle back to the beginning.
In these examples, imagine the top in the TL:

I have Dog
I have Cat I have Horse I have Cow I have Duck I have Hen
Who has Cat? Who has Horse? Who has Cow? Who has Duck? Who has Hen? Who has Dog?

o The set should contain enough cards so that every student will get one to three cards.
o Be creative: if the vocab list isn’t long enough, tweak the way it’s used: for ex weather (in Nice it's cold what's the weather in Paris?)

• Shuffle the cards, and distribute them all. If students have more than one card, each student should make sure than his/her cards don’t connect.
• Teacher begins by starting a stopwatch and calling out “Who has” and one of the words (in English). (I borrowed a stopwatch from the PE teachers until I got my own—sometimes one of the students has a stopwatch feature on his/her watch).
• The student who has the TL for that first word reads their card: “J’ai chien. Qui a cat?” (Tengo perro. Quien tiene cat?).
• The next student reads their card.
• The object is to get through the whole set as quickly as possible.
• I have multiple sections, and make it into a competition—each class period get three attempts (and we trade cards in between each round).
• If you plan carefully enough, you can make each set the same number of cards (thirty, let’s say) and have the class attempt to beat their past times (works instead of competing among sections)
• After the class learns how to use the cards, use the sets in groups so each kid has 5 or 6 cards each. They really get lots of vocab practice.

Variations on Bingo

These are taken directly from FrenchTeacherNet, by Steve Smith. It's a fantastic collection of resources and idea for French teaching, many of which can be adapted to other languages.
Thanks Steve for letting me share these!

Five variations on bingo

Loto is a great game for classes. It is worthwhile for reinforcing number recognition, students enjoy it, it is a good class calmer if you need it and it needs no preparation so it's great to fall back on as a teacher. I'm talking about number bingo here, not bingo with pictures or vocabulary.

There are some easy variations if you want to get away from the standard "call out numbers" version. By the way, you can buy ready-made bingo cards with numbers 1-90 - it's a good to have a load of them in the cupboard - or students can just write down, say, 10 numbers in a range you give them. One advantage of having "official" cards is that you can do lines as well as the "full house".

1.  Mental arithmetic bingo

With this one, instead of reading out a number, you give classes a simple mental arithmetic sum to solve which leads to the number which may be on their card. You need to teach them simple terms like plus, moins, multiplié par and divisé par. The advantage of this variation is that it provides more mental challenge. The downside is that pupils don't make the immediate link between the number you read and the number written in front of them. You might also need quite a good class to do it.

2.  Reverse bingo ("death bingo")

In this variation all the class stands up. You call numbers and if a number comes up which is on a child's card, they must sit down and they are out of the game. This variation goes by quite quickly and is a fun alternative, but the obvious downside is that once a pupil is "out" they have no more motivation to listen to numbers.

3. Number sequence bingo.

Instead of just reading a number, you read simple sequences of numbers and pupils have to work out what the next number would have been. You can make this as simple or as hard as you want, depending on the class. e.g. 1,2,3,4 ___ . Or 64,32,16 __. You can cater for any number easily e.g. 5,4,3,2 __. I like this version because students get to hear a lot of numbers, so you are maximising input. the minor downside is that, as in mental arithmetic bingo, pupils do not make an immediate match between the number they hear and the number of the paper.

4. Group bingo

Just break the class into small groups and get one person to act as caller. This has the advantage of allowing some students to do the calling. The downside is that students may hear poorer models of pronunciation and there is the danger of an over-noisy classroom.

5. Number in a sentence bingo

In this variation, instead of reading out a number, you read a sentence containing the number. e.g. Il y a 30 personnes dans la classe; j'ai deux frères; le numéro soixante est intéressant. This has a greater level of challenge and is an opportunity to provide input at the sentence level, allowing pupils to hear numbers in context. Some classes may find it too hard and the teacher may need to do a bit of thinking beforehand about the nature of the sentences which are feasible. This may be a version to do with classes who have been studying at least a year.

Here are sites which will generate bingo cards for you.

Sunday, 21 September 2014

Reverse Bingo

A lot like normal Bingo - but in this variation, you don't want your numbers called!
Students write down 9 or so (you tell them how many to choose) different numbers between 1 and 100.
As per Bingo, the teacher calls out numbers in the target language. As soon as even one of their numbers is called, that student is out. The winner is the last student to have none of their numbers called. A pretty quick game, so it doesn't matter if someone gets out really early on.
I've adapted this from "Irish Bingo" as described here. There, they suggest getting everyone to stand, and the students sit as soon as one of their numbers is called so you can see clearly how many people are left.

Saturday, 20 September 2014


I've been playing around with different ways to use Battleships in class. It's just a good, old-fashioned information gap activity really.
Usually, it's done with letters of the alphabet and numbers as per the image above. (Here's one version of the basic rules.) I've been experimenting with other combinations - such as hobbies / activities down the side and hate / dislike / don't really like / like / really like / prefer / favourite across the top of the grid.
I put these in English (or use images to represent them), but you could put them in the target language if you prefer. I tend to leave space for the weaker students to write the TL in as a prompt.
In this version, students ask "do you really like basketball?", selecting a degree of liking and an activity. If that coordinate is a hit, their partner answers yes, if it's a miss, they answer no. I'd make them use full sentence answers for practice.
Of course, the question for "Is sleeping your favourite?" is a differently structured question in many languages, so you may want to get your students tho think about how to ask each of the different questions before they start.
It's another way to drill questions & answers, as well as the vocab.
Alternatively, the degrees of liking could be replaced with days of the week, times of day etc...
If you don't like the idea of calling it Battleships and don't want to use different types of ship, you could call it Hide & Seek and call each of your "ships" something else.

Any other ideas for variations?
What other "old favourite" games do you adapt for your language class?
I'd love to hear from you!

Thursday, 11 September 2014

Fly Swat!

I was surprised to realise that I hadn't added this before - it's something I use pretty regularly, and it works well all the way through to Year 12... 

The commonest version of this to pre-prepare the whiteboard with lots of vocabulary that you want the students to revise / consolidate (target language, or English equivalents, or a mix of both).

Three to five students at a time (depending on the size of your whiteboard and of your students) come & stand at the board. Give each student a fly swat (different colours are best if possible).

Call out a clue such as a translation of one of the words on the board, but it could be something more completed too, depending on your students’ level & range of vocabulary eg for soccer – “there are 11 people in the team”. The first person to “swat” the word wins a point.
I suggest 3 questions per group, then rotate to the next set of people at the board to keep the class engaged – works especially well if they are in teams (eg the red fly swat team, the blue fly swat team etc).

Another version I’ve used is to start with a blank whiteboard. The first set of students have whiteboard markers. You call out a vocab item, and the students draw it or write it up for you, then once all the vocabulary you want is represented, continue as above.

You can also use flashcards or images / word cards on the floor or a large table, or project the words instead of writing them up.

You can also get a student to take the role of teacher as well.

Tables (The Verb Game)

I learned about this game just a week ago from the lovely Caroline, who teaches French at my school. She calls it The Verb Game. It's already a favourite with my students, from Year 7 all the way through to Year 11 & 12!

-->This is adapted from a French conjugation game. In the French version, you have the pronouns down the first column, and verbs across the top row – the blank spaces need to be filled with the correctly conjugated form of the verb for the pronoun that matches the row (see image!)
As conjugation isn’t an issue for Indonesian, I  draw up a table on my laptop which I show via the projector with different questions in each box. (questions could be vocab items needing translation) Write the question in the top of the box leaving space underneath within the box for the answer. (alternatively, you could just write it on the board, but then you need to take more care when erasing wrong answers)

Divide the class into 3 to 5 groups, and then number each student within the group (1 to 5 or whatever suits your class size). Assign each group a colour and a corresponding whiteboard marker.

Call out a number. Each student that corresponds with the number called from each group rushes to the front, collects the group’s whiteboard marker and then can write in the answer in any one space on the board that is left (one person per space!). Any incorrect answers are wiped off.

The group that has the most of their colour on the board at the end of the game wins. 
Isn't it funny how sometimes it's really simple things that the kids enjoy the most?

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Alphabet Call and Response

Use the standard military marching call and response rhythm, call out the alphabet and the students call the response:

ABCDEFG abcdefg
HIJKLMNOP hijklmnop
QRSTU and V qrstu and v
WXY and Z wxy and z

(you may want to adapt this to suit you and the rhythm you use) 
I think the only way to do this properly is to get the students up out of the seats, in a line, and march around the classroom in and around the desks to the rhythm.

Repeat the alphabet call & response couple of times as you march around the room. Maybe get the students to try to make the letters with their bodies as they march for an extra twist?

The "and" should be in the target language too, of course!

After a few rounds, you could always try calling the alphabet backwards - but you may need to practice this beforehand! 

It's not a game exactly, but a great way to practice the alphabet, and possibly other vocabulary. Numbers spring to mind instantly, but possibly also daily routine words - and why not add actions to add an extra kinesthetic dimension?

This is another activity from the Langues & Terres course I did in France in April.

Good luck and have fun!
ps - if you're not sure what I mean by call & response marching rhythm, here's an example of a rhythm you could use / adapt

Count against the clock

A really simple and quick game. The students count - one student per number - going around the class.
But time it, to see just how fast they can go. After a few tries, count backwards to see if they can match their top speed. Students love it!
Once they have the hang of it, start with a higher number, count by 10s, 5s, or be really tricky and count by 7s or 3s :)
This could also be used for practice saying the alphabet in the target language - any other ideas or variations? Please let me know!

Top of the Mountain / Gunung Agung

This game is really similar to Ashurbanipal / Pak Totomoto / Babo, however it has one HUGE advantage - no one gets out, so everyone is involved for the whole game.
My Year 9s taught me this game (when I played Pak Totomoto for the first time ever with this class this week, a few of them told me that it was a bit like Gunung Agung - they'd played it when they were in primary school language classes)

For those who don't speak Indonesian, Gunung Agung is a mountain in Indonesia. I'd replace it with Mount Blanc perhaps for French, and maybe Kosciuszko for English (pronounced Koz -ee-osk-oh - it;s a mountain in Australia) - you want something of a couple of syllables and preferably a little tricky to pronounce! 

Basically, everyone sits in a circle and is given a number. I found it really helpful to have the numbers written (in figures) on a piece of paper in front of each student. One student is "Gunung Agung" (or relevant mountain name) and has that title instead of a number - this is the highest position. The aim of the game is to move as high up the mountain as possible.

Gunung Agung starts by saying "Gunung Agung" then saying a number. (eg "gunung Agung - 12")
The student with that number says their number, then another. ("12 - 23")
and so on, and so on ("23 - 4" "4 - 18")

Until someone gets out.

You get out if - 
  • you call the person who just called you
  • you call a number that is out, or isn't in the game
  • you call a number that is one higher or one lower than your own.
  • you answer out of turn (eg if you are in chair 12 but you answer when 20 was called)
  • you take tooooo long to respond - the snappier the game is, the more fun it is.
When someone is out, they stand up and move to the bottom of the mountain (seat 1). Everyone who had a lower number than that person moves up one chair to fill the gap.

Obviously, as the aim is to be at the top of the mountain (in the Gunung Agung chair at the end of the game), it makes sense to target the higher (and often harder to remember) numbers rather than the low numbers.

I'd suggest a clear time limit and possibly showing a timer so the students know when the end is near - the people near the top of the mountain get rather frenetic at the end! 15 minutes would be a good length for this game, but you could run it for anywhere from 10 to 25 minutes.

My Year 9s also suggested that instead of numbers, you could use picture flashcards for the chair places as a way of drilling other vocabulary, depending on the topic.  Numbers also would not need to start with one, or possibly could be not consecutive (but still lowest to highest).

Love this variation & think it will become a regular part of my classes!
ps - the mountain pictured is Gunung Bromo not Gunung Agung - I just love the photo!

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Riddle me this...

A riddle game. I've seen a few versions of this around (such as The Green Glass Door). Basically, you have a secret rule which the students need to guess. Anything that follows that rule, you like, you don't like anything that doesn't.
For example:
"I like peas but I don't like carrots. I like pears but I don't like apples. I like ears but not noses."
Students need to guess the rule by asking yes / no questions - "do you like beans?" (yes) "do you like pants?" ("no, but I like jeans!") - in this case the rule is to do with spelling - I "like" things with an "ea" in them, and don't like things that don't.
A variation would be getting students NOT to say what the rule is when they have worked it out, but to give extra examples to help the others - generally the smug "I know something you don't know" feeling is enough of a reward. You could use a weak or new student to help you by secretly telling them the rule and they give some extra examples. If students work out the rule, they should keep quiet about it, but
It can be more simple (eg liking things that begin with S, ) or more complicated (words with a double letter, words that contain the letter y - as complicated as you want to make it!)

It's a good game to get students thinking about spelling, or grammar (feminine plural nouns? -ir verbs?)

A variation is to use different language instead of like / don't like. "I'm going to a party and I'm bringing peas. Would you like to come?" "Can I bring carrots?" (no) "Can I bring Jeanette?" (yes) (same rule as above)
or "I'm making soup and I'm adding beans" "Can I add bacon?" "Yum! yes!" "Can I add ham?" "Yuk! no!" (rule = words beginning with B)

Saturday, 19 July 2014


Another term is about to begin, so I've been thinking about ways to revise and get the students back into the swing of things. I've recently been to France for a French course for teachers, and by coincidence my old French teacher was there  for the same course. Obviously, this made me think about her classes, and why I enjoyed them so much. She used Ashurbanipal fairly regularly (I've written about Ashurbanipal here before) and I thought I'd give the game a new twist (new to me!), adapting it to other vocab rather than just sticking with numbers.

First, get everyone sitting in a circle then start a body drumming rhythm as follows - slap your legs twice, clap your hands twice, click your left fingers then your right fingers then back to the start. Don't go too fast!

The reason for the circle is so that it is clear who is next.  Here's a video of the basic number version.

For other vocabulary, give a topic (words beginning with M, sports, things that are small enough to fit in a pencil case, feminine nouns, part participles...). Start it yourself by saying "start" on the first click and give a word that fits the topic on the second click. Going around the circle, the students each in turn say the word given by the person just before them on the first click, then adding a new word on the second click. (That's why you want to make sure that the rhythm isn't too fast!)


so, it might go:
slap slap clap clap "start Mandarin" (first person)
slap slap clap clap  "Mandarin Man" 
slap slap clap clap "Man Magazine"
slap slap clap clap "Magazine Moon"

and so on. If you miss the rhythm, or say something that has already been said, you're out. It's basically a trickier version of "Think Fast" :)

I'm going to play the number version as a warm up first as I haven't played this version with my classes, but at the start of the term all revision & anything getting them speaking can't be a waste of time!

A bit of googling has shown me that this game is called "Babo" (fool) in Korea, but I'm sure there are other names around too.

What do you think? Any other variations? Would this work with your classes? Let me know!

Sunday, 23 March 2014

The Pizza game

Wow! it's been a long time since I've added anything, but have a couple of new things to share. Don't know about you (dear theoretical reader), but I'm actually finding that it has been really useful to create this resource for myself as much as for anyone else, because now I can go back and remind myself of games I haven't tried for ages - it's amazing what you forget.

This game I found on another site, added by Dagmara Muszynska.
I have left the instructions in her words - please note that this game does require some preparation.

PIZZA GAME Game to learn/practice vocabulary

This is my students favourite game. They love it and you can use it in any language B class. It takes a bit of time to make it but it is really worth of it.

To make a game you need to:
  1. On the sheet of A4 paper draw and than cut a circle (as big as it possible on the paper).
  2. On the circle draw 3 lines to divide it into 6 pieces (just as a pizza or a birtday cake).
  3. On each piece draw quite dots 1 or 2 or 3 or 4 or 5 or 6 (just like on dice). Now it looks a bit like a pizza, isn't it.
This will be your base. Now it's time to make pizza pieces (tasks to do by students)
  1. cut paper into triangles (as many as you want)
  2. on each triangle put one task to do by students

Your game is ready. Now it's good to laminate everything so you can use it many times.

How to play it:
  1. students sit around the table
  2. put your pizza (base) in the middle
  3. put your pieces of pizza under each part of your base
  4. student roles dice
  5. students takes the piece of pizza where is the same number of dots
  6. student solves task on the piece of pizza
  7. student may take the piece of pizza if he solve task correct – than teacher put next piece in empty place
  8. student need to put back thepiece of pizza if couldn't to solve the task.
  9. The winner is student who has the the most pieces of pizza at the end of the game

What you can use it for

  1. practise new vocabulary/expressions
ñ on each piece put word/expression in language of instruction. Students need to say the word in language B.
2.    putting words in correct order
ñ on each piece write mixed words. Students need to put them in correct order and make a sentence
3.    put the right form of noun/verb/adjective
ñ on each piece write sentence with one word that is in incorrect form. Students need to say the sentence using correct form of word
4.    answer the question
ñ on each piece write question that students will be supposed to answer

In fact there is much more possibilities to use this game. The only limit is your imagination. Good luck and have fun during the game

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Grudge Ball!

All the credit for introducing me to Grudgeball goes to the awesome Penny Coutas (@pcoutas on twitter)... My students LOVE this. Have made a couple of changes to suit my groups, but it's such a cool idea!
Rather than give full instructions, I'm going to give a link (sorry). I think the photos provided help make things clear. Here's the link.
The actual game is originally from

Vocabulary Gallery Walk

Not really a game... but still fun, especially if you play up the "gallery opening".

I love the idea of creating a gallery in this way, and getting students to give feedback on each others' work. I feel that if the students know they are creating for each other rather than just for the teacher, they will try that bit harder. Your "gallery" doesn't need to be word+definition+example - you could  use the gallery idea just as easily for a "creating" activity rather than simply a revision exercise. And if you don't have laptops, access to a computer lab or ipads / tablets there are other ways to do it - good old paper, or why not experiment with BYOD (bring your own device) if your school will allow it?
I have pasted these instructions directly from - here's the link.

"1. Vocabulary Gallery Walk – Each student will be given a word to define and provide an example for. Students will use Sock Puppet or Go Animate to create a mini skit to define and example their word. Students will lay iPads around the room and walk around to review each skit. Sticky notes will be placed near iPads for students to leave comments. Students will be instructed to write definitions and examples as they view each skit on their Vocabulary Gallery Walk Recording Sheet."

In the same article, Edudemic also suggests creating mini movies as a way to revise, then having a film festival / "world premiere" (possibly complete with popcorn?). Again, a great idea easily adapted from revision activity to an MFL activity.

Of course, you could go "old school" minus the technology aspect, and just challenge the students to create posters to show the meaning of the word / phrase / sentence without using any English :)

Thursday, 27 December 2012

Snowball fight!

This idea was shared by Carissa Peck, in her blog, Trying to Teach.

Snowball fight!

Basically, get each student to write a relevant question in the target language on a scrap piece of paper. (You could use vocabulary items instead of questions if you want - but in either case, the answer should not be written down, just the question.)
Then, they scrunch the piece of paper up into a ball and wait for a signal from you, when everyone is ready.

then - 30 seconds of chaos while they throw "snowballs" at each other.

When time is up (I'd recommend a VERY clear signal!) each student grabs the "snowball" closest to them. Select students to read out and (try to) answer the question.

I personally like Carissa's suggestion of making it into a team competition - divide the class into two before the snowballs go flying, on opposite sides of the room. "At the end if they answer their review question right, their team gets 10 points. If they don't get it right, let their team help them out and if as a team they are correct they get 5 points. (Let the other team steal after that for 5 points if you wish)"
Carissa has a couple of other suggestions for different versions on her blog. Her version in full is here.  You have to admit that it would be a memorable lesson, which the "teaching the brain" theorists state is a key part to get students to remember what they learned in the lesson.  Have fun!

Thursday, 31 May 2012

An alphabet game

This is a variation on a quick Number game that I have previously written about (instructions here).
I learned of this version at an AIM gesture method conference for French last year.

The idea is to get whole class participating in giving a word for each letter of the alphabet in order - but with a catch...

You start off with one person (and only one person) standing up and giving a word that begins with A. Then they sit down and someone else stands up and gives a word starting with B - BUT only one person can speak at a time, and no organisation of who will speak when is allowed. If two or more people stand up or speak, then it's back to the start again. No taking turns in a neat, organised way; no pointing or otherwise indicating who should speak... Yes, there will be a lot of times that the class won't get past the letter B - so you may want to have a rule that students may not use a word that has already been said for the letters you've covered in earlier attempts on the same day.

It was suggested that it's helpful to have a count-down from 5 if no one is offering a word for a particular letter - and if you get to zero, then it's back to A.   Sound frustrating for the kids? Yes, but they do really want to get there and will keep trying and trying.

Time is an important factor here - have a clear time limit (eg play with only 5 mins left of class once everyone knows the rules) and see how far into the alphabet your class can get - Keep a scoreboard and see if they can beat a previous record - or it's also great for inter-class competition - have fun!


Sunday, 27 May 2012

SHOUTING dictation

This is a variation on running dictation in a lot of ways, but even noisier. It worked fantastically well with my big Year 7 class, less well with my small upper school class (7 students).

I learned of this game via the amazing Moya McLauchlan - these are her instructions.

Shouting dictation - it's dictation; it's fun; and yes, it's loud. It's an information gap activity or barrier game for pairs of students that gets them into using language maintenance and repair strategies as they help each other to complete a written text.

How does it work?

Each student starts with a written copy of a text but the alternate lines are blank. Texts such as song lyrics, dialogues and poems work particularly well for shouting dictation.

Shouting dictation @ Scotch College
Student A

• Australians all let us rejoice
• ______________________
• With golden soil and wealth for toil
• ______________________
Student B

• _______________________
• For we are young and free
• ______________________
• Our land is girt by sea

Students take turns dictating the missing lines to their partner so that both end up with a complete text. They can't show the line to their partner, of course, and all communication must be in the target language.

Then there's the fun part. To make it more interesting and realistic (Imagine a conversation by telephone, in a crowded market, at a football game, in a nightclub.) students sit several metres apart in a noisy room. Music is especially good to create a noisy room.

What language skills do students practise?

• Listening and Reading and Responding
• Language learning strategies, particularly conversation maintenance and repair strategies.

We need to teach students the language for maintaining and repairing a conversation, for example:
• Please say it again.
• How do you spell .... ?
• Can you say it more slowly?
• What's the word/letter after ... ?
• Next line please.
• Is that P as in ... or B as in ...?

One word of warning, however: consider the classes around you before conducting a shouting dictation. At the very least, inform neighbouring teachers of the purpose and noise level of this learning activity.

Shouting dictation is a useful activity in any language learning program. Have you tried it?

Sunday, 1 April 2012

Stories & sequences

Good morning!
As you can tell, I've been inspired to go back and fill in a few holes in this blog - games that I had neglected to add before plus some new ones I've come across. Hope thy are helpful!
This game is great in that it isn't just aimed at drilling single words or really short snippets - instead, students tell a story based on picture prompts.

Firstly, line up a series of related pictures (perhaps 4 to 12 pictures, depending on age & ability of your students). Get students to give a sentence for each picture to create a story. As each sentence is added, go back to the start and say all of the sentences thus far in order (probably chorally). Once you have covered all of the pictures, get students to close their eyes and remove one or two pictures, then students re-tell the whole story, including the missing pictures. Repeat until no pics left.
If getting individuals to tell back the story rather than the whole class chorally, I would be more than happy if my students were paraphrasing as the pictures disappear rather than sticking to the memorised / rehearsed sentences, but there's the support of "rehearsedness" for those who aren't quite ready for that. Retelling the story chorally gives that extra support of "class memory" also.

Saturday, 24 March 2012

I can't believe I haven't already added these...

A couple more stand-by games that I'm sure that everyone already knows, but just in case (and also because a reminder is always handy!) It may be that I have already added these but I just skimmed over them when I went looking to see what was missing!

1) 20 questions.
I have already commented that I believe we don't give students anywhere near enough opportunities to practice asking questions - we tend to focus on getting answers from them. 20 questions is great for getting students to ask questions & think a bit laterally - even though it does focus on yes / no questions. I'm sure that the instructions for playing 20 questions are already online in a million places - let me know if you think it is worth adding them here.

2) Celebrity heads
Stick a sticky label on each student's back with the name of someone they all recognise - a celebrity, sports star, a well known TV / film character, even a teacher from your school. (it's best if the sticky labels are pre-prepared!) Students need to ask questions (again, often this is confined to yes / no questions) to work out who they are. In schools, celebrity heads is often played by seating 3 or 4 kids at the front of the class with the celebrity names written above and behind them - but this means just those 3 or 4 students get the practice asking questions. By putting a different name on each student's back, everyone is involved. I generally have some extra labels pre-prepared just in case anyone guesses super-fast. It can be great to get students to nominate celebrity names also - but you may need to vet them first.
There is some specialist vocabulary required (such as various careers) but this can be given out & often comes in handy when the students are talking about themselves or needing to describe others anyway. :)
I have occasionally used students' names as part of the mix for this game, but you need to know your students well to make sure that there won't be any hurt feelings. Putting a student's own name on their back can be fun too after you've played it a couple of times...

Order up!

Another game "borrowed" from peer support and a dozen other places.

I wrote numbers on sticky labels and stuck one on each student's back without them seeing. They then had to get into order from smallest to largest without using any English.

I have also done this by giving each student their number so they can see, but not anyone else - this way, I could avoid having one clever child simply moving everyone else into the right spot.

To make things harder, the numbers were non-sequential (with a couple of sequential numbers thrown in), and included some huge numbers that I knew they couldn't say just yet in the target language because I wanted to talk about problem solving when it comes to language.
very successful, got the kids out of the seat and talking to each other and there were some interesting solutions to communicating the large numbers - and yes, they did only use Indonesian :)

The more common context for the game is to get everyone in age order (or birthday order) without speaking at all. You could do the same thing for other sorting activities - eg, alphabetical order, or to get them into groups (eg types of animals - mammals, reptiles etc)

Any other ideas?

Not really a game, but...

I tried this with my new Year 7 class at the start of the week, and it worked well so I thought I'd share. I created a worksheet with about 10 speech bubbles, alternating from each side of the page (see picture). I gave the students a topic (in this case, getting to know you)and one sheet each and asked them to fill in the first speech bubble... then they had to get out of their seats and write something in the next speech bubble on another sheet, then another, and another and so on. It meant that they had to read what came earlier to avoid repetition and to ensure the conversation made sense.

The results? I saw students discussing the language they were using and correcting each other - and going back and correcting themselves. When something was (almost) unintelligible, one clever student used repair strategies ("Can you repeat that please?") in their written dialogue. Lots of learning took place from what was intended as just a variation on drilling the basic getting to know you language - and, what's best - the students really enjoyed it.

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Bingo ice-breaker

This is great if you have students with some language knowledge but who don't really know each other - or it can be used for students to get to know each other better.

Before the class, you'll need to prepare a bingo grid (size to suit how long you want the game to take - 5 squares by 5 is a good size.) In each square put a piece of information in the target language - some examples are below:

* has two younger siblings
* lives close to school
* likes playing basketball
* doesn't like watching football
* is wearing red shoes

Students need to ask each other in the target language to find someone who matches the description and ask them to sign the relevant square. The aim is to get a full straight line of signatures (horizontal, vertical or diagonal) - then call out "Bingo" (or an appropriate TL word).

Turn Around

I have been told of another name for this, but I can't remember! If you do know it, please let me know.

Students work in pairs to spell words on the whiteboard as fast as they can in competition with other pairs of students. However, there is a twist...

Both students in each pair need a whiteboard marker. The two students link left arms (so one student will be facing the whiteboard and one student will be facing the class). The teacher calls out a word to be spelled (or translated) and the student facing the board writes the first letter of the word on the board then the pair must spin so that the second student can write. Each student can only write one letter, and must write one letter. If a student wishes to correct the letter that their partner has written they can erase it and replace it, but then must spin. So, they take turns writing a letter then spinning so that the other student can write. Students can not talk to each other or tell their partner what to write.

It's best if you match up left handed students with left handed students and RH students with RH students as much as possible - Left handed students will need to link right arms if working together.

You can make it harder by saying that if a mistake is made and recognised the student who recognises the error can erase the incorrect letter but can't add another letter, and by saying that both students *must* take their turn to write.

If you have a large whiteboard, you can have 3 or 4 pairs of students at the board at once. If you're restricted to a smallish whiteboard though you may only be able to have two pairs at the board. With a tiny whiteboard, one pair at a time but time how long it takes - possibly by having the rest of the class counting out loud in the target language.

It must be legible - feel free to be mean if letters or accents are not clear!

I think this could be adapted for scripted languages by having students take turns at drawing the strokes that make up the characters?