Activities That Work /
C. General Classroom Activities

Synopsis prepared by Lee Risley

Back to Table of Contents:
C. General classroom activities.
1. Appointments, pairing and telling time.
2. Competition.
3. Describe it!
4. Fable portrayal.
5. Interactive.
6. Role-playing & skits.
7. Listening and/or singing.
8. Upper level (ii, iii, etc.) activities.
9. Word review games and activities.
10. Writing.

9. Word review games and activities.

95/03 From-> Bob Hall <>
Subject: Re: 'Activities That Work'

Here goes. It may be too elementary for most on the list; but I'll take
a chance. I have been teaching Spanish for 33 years; 31 of them in a
junior high school; and have, for the past few years used and developed
games which I use in my teaching. My first offering is the "Build a
Sentence/Story Relay"

I usually use this as a vocabulary type activity. I divide my class into
teams of about 5 students for each team. At the outset I select two
teams to compete against one another. The first member of each team
goes to the board. I will dictate one of their vocabulary words to them
which they write on the board. Once this is done they face away from the
board and upon my signal the same pair has to add one word to the
original word. The competition progresses with each of the remaining
team members 'racing' to the board to add their word to, finally,
construct a complete Spanish sentence. In this circumstance the winner
would be the team which has written a correct sentence in Spanish having
6 words in it. For the second competition I allow the first winning team
to select the team against which they would like to compete. My students
seem to enjoy this game.

Use the same team selection procedures and the same playing
procedure; but; tell the teams that they must write a 'cogent'
three/four/five...sentence story.

1. This may not be adaptable to all levels 2. It could use more time
than teachers are willing to use for such an activity. 3. It may create
more noise than the teacher can 'put up with'.

1. It has been a good 'cooperative' activity. 2. Students are using what
they are/have learned 3. The 'reluctant'/'non-participatory student' can
and does participate. 4. Sorry; but it is fun to see the students get
excited about trying to win with their newly acquired L2.


95/03 From-> Bob Hall <>
Subject: Re: 'Activities That Work'

>I LOVE your sentence relay game! Please tell us more! Por favor! Marilyn Hannan

Here's one plus a variation that I just used:

Materials needed:
1. Pick-up sticks(buy cheap! They disappear faster than Houdini! I
bought my plastic ones at a Six Star Store in Colorado Springs). 2. Flat
top desks/classroom floor.

The Game:

I have used this game for vocabulary review (before tests); but I'm sure
other uses could be developed.

1. Divide your class into groups of four/one pair against another pair.

2. Hand each group of four a packet of the pick-up sticks. Instructions
for the proper dropping of the sticks will, no doubt, come with the
sticks. Have the students in each group drop their sticks. At this point
if you don't like the way the sticks look after they are dropped;ie.
they are all laying side by side, then, by all means, be a 'meanie' and
arrange them in the most diabolical scheme you can come up with!

3. The pairs now begin giving each other the current vocabulary words.
As this begins I roam the room trying to make certain that the 'little
ones' are not saying, "Hey Homer how do you say cat in Spanish"; but
rather, <<Como se dice cat en espanol?

4. Once the first pair asks the question the second pair must come up
with the correct answer(as you roam, make sure each of the players is
contributing). If the answering pair responds correctly it gets one(1)
point plus the opportunity to gain another point by taking a stick from
the pile without moving any others.

5. The game can be as long or as short as you like. At the end the pairs
tally up their points and the winners can 'brag' or be rewarded as the
teacher sees fit.

I tried this with a recent vocabulary test. Instead of dividing the
class into groups of four I divided the class into two teams. We jointly
decided that the winning team would get a score of X for the current
vocab. test and the losing team would get a score of Y. Neither of the
grades were failing.The game is played exactly like the one above with
WHICH YOU MIGHT BE AFFLICTED! You see, my friend, you are to be the one
who determines the movement or the non-movement of the stick!

Bob Hall


96/11 From-> MRS BETH DAMASCUS <>
Subject: Ideas that work

Hola listeros,
I know that earlier this year there were quite a few messages sent with
"IDEAS THAT WORK". I really enjoyed reading, and even more so, liked
some of the life that was breathed into my classes as I used some of the
activities. I wonder if we could start that thread once again? I have a
special request for ideas to teach and practice "upper level grammar"
such as the future, conditional, and all the perfect tenses.

In the meantime, I'll contribute an idea for a game that can be used
with ANY level to review ANYTHING from vocabulary to grammar to culture.
The idea is from someone with whom I attended the Concordia Language
Villages Teachers Seminar a few summers ago. The game is called "AY
CHIHUAHUA". Set up a board (I use envelopes) with 25 slots. (This can
also be used for Jeopardy). In each slot, I put a piece of paper so it's
hanging outside the envelope. The part on the outside shows that number
value, the inside has the question. Let me explain with some concrete

Last week we were reviewing a chapter in which the grammar was a
conglomeration of stuff like direct/indirect object pronouns, hace que +
present tense, o-ue verbs. I numbered the papers in increments of
beginning with 100. So, the numbers go from 100 to 1300. I wrote
questions on the inside of each paper, the "easier" ones with the lesser
point values. For example, I put vocabulary (antonyms in Spanish) on the
first 5 or so. The next ones I had students answer questions that were
in Spanish - they had to answer in a complete sentence. The next ones
were sentences in English that they had to translate into Spanish -
using hace que, direct or indirect object pronouns, 0-ue verbs, etc.
FOUR of the 25 papers don't have a question inside, they have the
expression "AY CHIHUAHUA" written in them.

The game is played by dividing the class into two teams. They may NOT
help their teammates by calling out or whispering answers. Play begins as

- Student 1 from team A chooses any number she wishes. (She must call
out the number correctly in Spanish - great practice for any of the
numbers that the kids always forget or are reluctant to try to
pronounce). I read the question. She answers. If it is perfectly
correct, her team earns the points. If she is incorrect, I simply say
"no" and the question goes to student #1 from team B. If the student on
team B answers perfectly correct, she gets a lesser amount of points (I
decrease it by 10's). If she answers incorrectly,
the same question goes back to team A - student #2. The question goes
back and forth between the team, each time worth less points until
somebody finally gets it correct for their team - or in some cases -
NOBODY gets any points because nobody gets it correct. This really makes
the students LISTEN CAREFULLY and THINK because I do not tell them where
the error is - I simply say NO if it's incorrect. Second round begins
with play er #1 on team B.

- If a student chooses a paper that says "AY CHIHUAHUA", the team looses
ALL the points they have accumulated! Since they don't know how many "Ay
CHihuahuas" there are, nor where they are, the game belongs to EITHER
team until the very last question.

The kids really like this game! Sometimes is gets quite loud when it's
down to the wire! There have been numerous times when the game ended in
a tie - NEITHER team had any points! It's fair because it's all a game
of chance when choosing the question. They know that the lesser point
cards are "easier" questions - so the less able students are quite eager
to play since they know that they too have a chance. Also, by listening
carefully to each other, they usually figure out where the error is
(like if they miss a pronoun, or the personal A, or what have you). This
is a great way to practice those structures that the kids always mess up
on, and also to prepare them for those wonderful tests. Once they figure
out the pattern, they usually are quick with the next sentence if it's
practicing the same idea. I hope this makes sense! Good luck and have
fun! If you have any questions, let me know. Now let's hear some more

Muchas gracias!
Beth D.


97/09 From-> Cherice Montgomery <>
Subject: Connect the Dots--with pictures

>It is a very short activity but the children like it. Some or you can do "connect
>the letters" instead of numbers. It works for practicing the alphabet too.

I've also seen it done with pictures. Each dot has a picture of a
vocabulary word next to it. Person B has a list of the vocabulary words
in English. B must call those words out to A, in the order in which they
appear on his list, in Spanish. A must connect dots beside each of the
pictures accordingly in order to create the final picture. I have used
this with food words and pictures, and have had my students submit them
for other vocab. topics for extra credit. They are easy to make, but
time-consuming since you have to find/draw all the pictures and reduce
them to the same, small size.

Cherice Montgomery


97/09 From-> Elma Chapman <chapmane@EDCEN.EHHS.CMICH.EDU>
Subject: Re: Bingo

A new dimension to bingo: Instead of calling the words myself, I let
each student "call" one word, by giving a definition in the target
language or using it in a sentence but replacing the word with a blank.
Other students can ask questions if they aren't sure which word is being
called, but again only in the target language. Yesterday someone gave a
clue "It's on the hand but isn't a finger" and we had both fingernail
and thumb in the vocab list, which either one could, in a sense, fit the
definition, so the question was asked, "Do we have two or ten of them?"
I don't make word cards to call from, I just let each kid pick a word
they want to use, so toward the end of the game, yes someone can cause
himself/herself to have a bingo, but that's part of the game and that's
why kids don't mind when it's their turn to come up with a definition.

It's funny how kids don't complain when their homework assignment turns
out to be making a game card. . . (Of course, I'm still traditional enough
that they have "regular" home work pretty often, too.)

Elma Chapman


97/11 From-> Tara Stace <>
Subject: not really a game, but sort of

One of the teachers at school got this idea at a conference two years
ago, but we have changed it slightly. We used it with ir a infinitive
and modes of transportation. Another teacher and myself wrote about 40
sentences in English and then put each word (in Spanish) on a half sheet
of construction paper. For example subjects/ all forms of ir/ en/ modes
of transportation.

In class we would pass out the cards to the kids usually every kid gets
two - three cards. We are careful to give the students who enjoy getting
up and moving the cards that are used quite often like en and a. Then in
class we read a sentence to the class and everyone who has a card that
is in the sentence has to get up and go to the front of the room. Once up
there they  have to get in the right order. The rules are simple, the class
can help the kids in the front of the room get organized. The kids in front
can't sit down until I give them a signal. I will not read the next sentence
until everyone is seated and it perfectly quiet. The kids really
enjoyed this activity, It goes really fast. I usually make it a
competition between my classes. I give them ten minutes and the class
that gets through the most sentences in ten minutes wins and gets a
treat. One thing to be careful of is to try not give a student two words
that will appear in the same sentence, it happens, but try to avoid it.

Tara Stace


97/11 From-> Rachel Powell <>
Subject: Re: "Almost no preparation time" game

This is a reply to a thread from quite a time ago...

I once used the "Jeopardy" Game to review the last 3 topics that I'd
taught while on Prac. I believe "Jeopardy" is a popular TV game in the
US... sorry if this explanation is totally unnecessary for a lot of you!
It was on TV years ago for a little while here in Australia - but I
personally don't remember it, so thought I'd explain how it works for
those out there like me! I got the idea from fellow student teachers at
the University of Queensland...

Draw up a "Game Board" on the blackboard, with the categories (topics
studied across the top, and the points per question written in the boxes
going down, like so:

_________________________________________________ | | | |
| Animals | Family | Shopping |
_________________________________________________ | | | |
| 1 | 1 | 1 |
_________________________________________________ | | | |
| 2 | 2 | 2 |
_________________________________________________ | | | |
| 3 | 3 | 3 |

I split the class into two and assigned each team a colour, represented
by coloured chalk, then tossed a coin to decide which team goes first
(or whatever method you prefer).

I chose a different team member each time to decide whether they wanted
to try for 3 points (difficult question) or for one point (easy

It's easy enough to quickly jot down three questions of varying
difficulty quickly when starting the game. Answers are not to be called
out, but hands must be raised to answer the question. I played referee
and decided whose hand went up first. Once called on, the student had 3
seconds in which to answer, or the other team got the point. Same thing
went for calling out.

If the answer was right, the box was given a big tick in that team's

I found the choosing whose hand was up first a bit difficult - I had a
pretty easy-going class though, who went along with my decision without
too many grumbles. You could always have a rotating panel from each side
of the class who answered on behalf of their team too...

I used this a couple of weeks before they were due for an end of term
test, and so I tried to use questions which would make them more aware
of the sorts of language they should be aiming to keep in their heads...
I got some shocked looks from some students - they'd been okay while
working on the topic, and had been using quite well the various polite
phrases you encounter while shopping in Japan... but had not bothered to
look over previous work when working on later topics.

It made me realize that springing something like this on them every so
often would 1) make me more conscious about always building on their
language, and referring to previous work at any opportunity, and 2) make
them more aware that learning another language is a cumulative process
and that they need to keep up "old" vocab.

Rachel Powell


97/11 From-> "Cindy A. Kendall" <>
Subject: pictionary variation

I have pictionary in Spanish, which is (needless to say) challenging for
the students. So, I developed this variation, and the students love it!
The class is divided into 2-3 teams. Each team is issued an equal number
of dictionaries (electronic translators are not allowed).

Dice is rolled, piece advanced, card drawn. Student shows the card to
teacher if unsure of what the word means. Teach prompts if necessary.
Student decides to pantomime (charades) or draw. Team may answer in
English or Spanish. Once the correct English is given, the team may use
the rest of the time (remember the sand timer is only for one minute
total) to look up the Spanish equivalent of the word in the dictionary.
The specific Spanish word must be produced before the end of the minute.

Surprisingly, the kids really get into racing through the dictionary to
find the word. They are paying attention to noun, adjective, verb. They
are also very actively and creatively thinking about alternative
phrasing/wording for vocabulary both in English and Spanish. And, the
vocabulary is sticking in their heads.

Happy playing!
Cindy A. Kendall


95/09 From -> Bob Hall <>
Subject: Re: activities that work

My offering is a dice game that I thought of several years ago. I use it
for reviewing vocabulary; but, I'm sure that fellow listers could
develop other uses.

I call the game 'Rock y Roll Vocabulario'

You will need two dice per group ( I usually use groups of 4) and a
playing board/card/sheet of notebook paper for each player.

Each of the players makes a grid of 12 squares on his playing board. He
numbers the 12 squares from 1 to 12. Since a 1 can't be rolled with two
dice the number 1 square is a free square. Once the grid is made each
student uses current vocabulary to fill each square with one of his
current vocab words. The students in the group then exchange their
papers and play begins. The first student rolls the dice. Let's suppose
he rolls a 6. He looks at his playing board for the #6 square and has to
give the word in the #6 square in the target language. If his playing
opponents agree that he has correctly given the word he is allowed to
put his initials in that square. The game proceeds with each player
taking his turn. My students this year have put a new twist in. If the
player who rolls a 6 for example has already initialed his own 6 square
he may play off one of his opponents cards in the # 6 square. The winner
of the game is the person whose initials appear most on all 4 of the
game boards.

Bob Hall


95/09 From -> Janice Miyata <>
Subject: Another activity that works


This activity is fun for practicing new nouns or other vocabulary items.
1. On the overhead or blackboard make a grid of 9 squares like a
tic-tac-toe game.

2. In each square put a picture of the item you want students to
identify. I sometimes draw them, but more often use a transparency that
I have xeroxed, cut into individual pictures so that I can move them

3. Then you tell the class that you have E.S.P. and that someone else in
the class does also. Of course, you have already set this up with one
student (not necessarily a really smart student either). It helps if you
choose someone who can keep a secret and then you can use the activity
again another day.

4. Send the student out into the hall and shut the door behind him. Tell
the class to choose a square and when the student comes back in you will
send a telepathic message to him so he will know which square the class
has picked.

5. When he comes in, you take a pen or use your finger and point to any
square on the grid. Ask him if it's the apple. (Or is it the car in
front of the house, if you're practicing prepositions. Or is it the boy
who is smoking, if you're practicing verbs.) He will say yes or no,
depending on the information you have "sent" him. Eventually, you will
ask him about the chosen square and he, of course, will say yes. The
class will be amazed. And each student will have his own theory about
how you did it. They will want to do it again and they probably won't
want you to ask the question. This is great because now they are
speaking in the target language.

6. You can go on with this until you have had enough, probably 4- 5
attempts. There will be lots of laughter.

7. Now, for the secret!! This is what you and your partner set up ahead
of time. On the first question you ask you will point to any square at
all. But, when you do, you will point to the part of the square that
corresponds to where the chosen square actually is on the grid. So if
the class has chosen the top left square, you will point to the top left
square of the first one you ask about. You will keep pointing as you
continue questioning, but your partner will ignore the section you point
to, because this doesn't matter. Only on the first question do you give
away the secret location. Sometimes the students will want you to point
to the secret square first, and that will work too.

8. Eventually, the students will want you to stay right away from the
grid, because they suspect something. This gets a bit more difficult,
but can still be done. Use a textbook and a piece of chalk, placed in
front of you where your partner can see it when he comes in the room.
The location of the chalk on the book will tell him the secret square.
Or you can stand beside an empty desk and put your pen in the right
location. You must practice this with your partner ahead of time. I
usually set this up the day before with someone and it only takes about
10 minutes to do.

I think the idea for this activity came from a book of foreign language
games by Andrew Wright. Can't find the book... it's packed somewhere.
Anyway, I've been having fun with it for many years. I'd love to hear if
it works for you, too!

Jan Miyata


95/10 From -> Madeline Bishop <>
Subject: Re: activities that work

 It's fun and it's adaptable to any vocab you may want to review. We
call it the circle game "Le jeu des cercles":

Before the students come in, on the blackboard, write any words or
numbers you want to review. Circle each entry on the board. (I often put
30-40 terms up there.) Divide your room into two sides, and give each
side a different color of chalk. One member from each side goes to a
line about 3 feet from the board. Then you, the teacher, describes or
defines in the T language one of the terms on the board. If it's a
number you can do an addition or subtraction problem and let the answer
be one of the numbers on the board. The two students listen and when
they know the answer, they run to the board and put a mark within the
circle of the correct vocab item. There can be quite a duel at the site
of the answer, but the colored chalk helps decide who was there first.
The victorious student marks a point in the score box on his side of the
board and sits down. The "losing" student has another chance to try with
a new member of the other team. I let my kids coach their buddies by
yelling in TL "more to the left" " more to the right" and "in the
centre" if they know where the right answer is.

This is a great way for students to absorb how to do circumlocution
because that is what you, the teacher, are modeling. "This is something
a French person eats with butter and jam for breakfast." or "an article
of clothing you would wear on a cold snowy day." The first time you
play, teach them the equivalent for "something" and other words you use
in circumlocution.

For upper level classes, play this like "Pictionary." One student on a
team is at the board, while the other team members are handed the
"answer." It's up to these team members to come up with the
circumlocution which prompts their team member at the board to find the
right answer. Each side plays separately and is timed, just like in

It can take a class period to play this game and the kids do not get
tired of it. There is also a whole lot of careful listening going on.
Try it, you'll like it!

Madeline Bishop


95/10 From -> Bob Hall <>
Subject: Re: activities that work

Another possibility is to use, instead of colored chalk, two different
colored flyswatters. Same set up (without the circles around the words);
but the kids face away from the board. The teacher or a student frames
the question, the players turn to the board, they search for the correct
response and once found swat it! Only one swat per question; so once the
flyswatter has hit the board it is over for the player wielding that
swatter. The different colored swatters? If both hit the word at the same
time; the color on the bottom wins.

Bob Hall


95/10 From -> Alice Bell <>
Subject: An activity

This is an activity that I learned about from one of Carol Armstrong's
workshops at a state conference (California) a few years ago and it's
fun. It's called "Changez de Place" and I use it for review of
vocabulary and/or functions (such as talking about past activities).
Students stand in a circle (for large classes you could have 2 or 3
circles). Teacher is in the middle to begin. Let's say you're reviewing
the past (last month/weekend or whatever time period) - the teacher
says(in the target language) "If you ate pizza (went to the movies)
(studied your French etc.), change places." The teacher then quickly
moves to take the place of a student who has moved out of the circle to
change places with another student. That student has to then make a
similar statement so that he/she can try to rejoin the circle.

It works well with descriptions and possessions too (if you're wearing
sandals, if you have brown eyes, if you have a phone in your bedroom,
etc.). I find that after about 5/10 minutes (depending upon level) it
starts to die down and I stop the game. It's also good because students
really have to listen to hear if the statement applies to them and also
it gets them moving. I think it would be a good activity about halfway
through the period if you're on a block schedule. Enjoy,

Alice Bell


96/01 From-> "Cindy A. Kendall" <>
Subject: good 10 min. vocab game!

This short game came from one of my students....

The example is in English for the benefit of the many languages of

Teacher thinks of a five letter word and writes the blanks on the board.
Teacher keeps word to self. (example: house _ _ _ _ _ )

Students then guess other five letter words, and the teacher writes the
guessed word on the board, along with indicating how many of the letters
in the guessed word are also in the corresponding position in the
teacher's secret word. The object is to figure out the teacher's secret

Example: Teacher's word - house
student guesses - crazy score - 0
paper score - 0
loose score - 3 (for the o,s,e)
mouth score - 2 (for the o, u)
horse score - 4 (for the h,o,s,e)

Eventually the students will be able to guess the teacher's word. This
reviews vocabulary randomly, or you could assign a specific topic if
your students have the vocabulary base to do so.

My 2 cents for the day....

Cindy Kendall


96/02 From-> Jeffrey Stein <>
Subject: Flashcard tip

A couple of years ago, I discovered that the local office supply giant
carried pink and blue 5X8 flashcards. I have used them ever since to
help reinforce which words are feminine and which are masculine. (I
know, I know. It's a bit stereotypical but the kids have completely
internalized what the colors mean in the French classroom!)



96/02 From-> Lauralie Munson <>
Subject: Re: Flashcard tip

>carried pink and blue 5X8 flashcards. I have used them ever since to help
>reinforce which words are feminine and which are masculine.

I have used pink and blue construction paper and mounted pictures on it.
So even at a pre-reading stage one can reinforce the concept of
masculine and feminine.



96/02 From-> Tom Gambill <>
Subject: "Nerf Vocabulary"

Fellow FL Teachers,
I started "nerf vocabulary" with my first year Spanish students about a
month ago and found that they really enjoy it and it really seems to
help them "quiz" each other better than other methods. I know people are
doing this or things similar, but I thought I would share anyways.
I went and bought 15 softball size nerf balls at a store. Each time we
start a new lesson I give them a sheet that has all the Spanish verbs,
phrases, and vocab on the right and the translations on the left....
separated enough so that they can fold their paper and really quiz both
themselves and each other... Then about twice a week we go to the gym
and spend anywhere from 15 - 30 minutes doing "nerf vocab", where they
pick a partner and throw the ball back and forth to each other. One
calls out a word and the other must translate. My advanced students try
to translate before they have to catch the ball. This really allows me
to listen for pronunciation as I roam around and they love it.... and I
was somewhat surprised to find out that they really take it seriously...

I get much more out of them than I do just having them sit and do it in
class! Give this a try.. I hope at least it helps new teachers who are
looking for ways to get their students more involved in their learning.
Please let me know if this works for you and if you have any
modifications that add to it. I have thought about organizing a nerf
olympics (where they compete for small prizes) but have not done so yet.
Buena suerte

Tom Gambill


96/02b From-> Bob Hall <>
Subject: Re: "Nerf Vocabulary"

>Fellow FL Teachers,
>I started "nerf vocabulary" with my first year Spanish students about a month
>ago and found that they really enjoy it and it really seems to help them "quiz"
>each other better than other methods. Please let me know if this
>works for you and if you have any modifications that add to it. I have thought
>about organizing a nerf olympics (where they compete for small prizes) but have
>not done so yet.

A possible next step is to play 'nerf' baseball. Most toy stores,
especially at this time of the year, have 'nerf' baseball sets on hand.
This is a game that can get kids really involved in both the
use/reproduction of the L2 and physical activity. If you're interested
let me know and I'll send you my game.

Bob Hall


96/03 From-> Janel Brennan <>
Subject: Tic Tac Toe Idea - Game

Hello! I just learned this great activity to use as a review for
conjugation or vocab or just about anything! It's from a Rassias mini
seminar that our FL teachers went to during our inservice day. By the
way, the Rassias Institute at Towson State University has some great
activity ideas, even if you don't buy in to the whole method! They give
seminars for teachers although, unfortunately, it costs about $200.

1. Make a big tictac toe board on the chalkboard. Put an infinitive verb
in each square   (depending on what you're working with)
2. Divide the class into two teams
3. Write a bunch of subjects on the board: "I", "My cousin and I", "you", etc.
4. Call on one person at a time to make a sentence using the verb (orally).
 If they get it right, put an X in the square (or an o)

The first team to get three X's in a row wins. You could also do this
with four in a row if you have a big class, just make the tictactoe
board bigger!

And you can use it with a variety of grammar concepts! I used it w/
level II irregular verbs in preterite.

My students seemed to enjoy this!

-Janel Brennan


96/03 From-> Susan George <>
Subject: Re: Tic Tac Toe Idea - Game


another option is from the Barbara Snyder workshops: same idea, tic tac
toe, but with partners, instead of teams. Just list the infinitives,
with more than will fit on the board. Students fill in individual
charts, placing the verbs wherever they like, but conjugated to the
person that you choose. You can use any tense you'd like.

then students call the game for their partner(s). in my class, it goes:
do you have he ate? (tienes el comio?) Si or no. the student calling
marks it off his list so that he doesn't repeat, and the student with
the board can place a marker or an x on his board, if it was one he had
chosen to write down. then they switch, and the 2nd partner calls for
the first.

i like it because it puts each student in charge of the game, instead of
me, and I am free to help those students who are struggling.

we have two versions: a small board (3 x 3) we call "gato" and the
larger boards (4x4 or 5x5) is "loteria".

Susan George


96/03 From-> Tom Gambill <>
Subject: Re: "Nerf Vocabulary"

First year Spanish - High School. Many people are surprised that it
works... but when faced with the option of going outside or to the gym
in pairs to review through Nerf Vocab... or sit in their desks and do
essentially the same thing... I convert everyone into an on-task maniac.
I really do find they get a lot out of it! College? They may prefer to
sit in the seats!... but please let me know if you find otherwise or if
your trying it with High School students - let me know how it goes.
One final note... if you go outside do not be within view of other
classrooms... those teachers that think learning can't be fun tend to
get upset. Tom

Tom Gambill


96/03 From-> Beverly Maass <>
Subject: Another nerf-like idea

I have used a beanbag (easily made with felt and rice) to practice verbs
with classes at all levels. I throw the beanbag to a student who must
give me an answer to whatever is being practiced. The students either
gives the answer or tells me, "No se". If he cannot respond correctly, I
continue around the room throwing the beanbag and looking for the
correct answer. Once someone gives the correct response, then I throw
the beanbag back to those who answered incorrectly, and now they have to
reply again, hopefully with the right answer.

With L3 and L4 I often practice a variety of tenses at the same time. I
will say to the students "ser-Ud.", and as I throw the beanbag to an
individual, I will say "imperfecto". The next student might get
"preterito" or "mandato familiar", etc. After practicing "ser=Ud." with
any many tenses as the class knows, then I will switch to another verb
and subject. This type of practice requires no translation and often
serves as a check for me on how the class is understanding verbs. The
students seem to enjoy the challenge.



96/03 From-> Kathy McGregor  <>
Subject: Re: Another nerf-like activity

The first time I ever used the nerfball technique was when I was a
participant in a French Immersion class. We knotted up socks and threw
them back and forth to our dyad partners. It's much cheaper (although
less esthetically pleasing, I suppose) than buying piles of nerf balls
or Koosh balls. Also, it's a great way to use up all those holey socks
that I can't bring myself to get rid of. Don't ask me what else I could
ever do with them...

Kathy McGregor


96/03 From-> Tom Gambill <>
Subject: "Board Pictionary"

I got a fair amount of response to my "Nerf Vocab" message last month so
I thought I would submit "board pictionary" to anyone who is looking for
another alternative method of reviewing. It is based on the Pictionary
game and of course is just one way of playing it.

You can start it off or have a student do it.. but pick anything in
Spanish that you have covered and you have to make a pictorial
representation of it on the board and the students try to guess what it
is. Ex: draw a sun and a student may guess "hace sol", draw a book and
they may call out "el libro" etc.

More advanced BP gets into phrases and verb conjugation or sentences.
The key is to try to stump the students... one student drew a man
holding a knife and running after another and a student finally answered
"el jugo" or juice (O.J.) When a student guesses the answer they get to
go up and draw one. I sit in the back and call on students who raise
hands while the person draws to bring "fairness" into it... and I ask
students to have something ready in case they go up to keep things

Obviously you will need to remind them about profanity etc in accordance
with your school guidelines... but the kids really enjoy it and it
provides an alternative to working from the book or listening to me
speak. It is also a great "review" item when you need something for the
last few minutes of class. Usually, I will have them draw from a list of
words that we are currently working on to keep them focused.

Tom Gambill


96/03 From-> Judy Robb <>
Subject: Spanish actividades

Hola -

Thought I'd pass on an idea I got from a French teacher at our school.
Perhaps everyone else is already using it, but it was new to me! We were
reviewing verbs which are irregular in the first person singular, as
well as a number of stem changing verbs. She suggested we play "Hangman"
(Verdugo), so we did.

I copied the alphabet several times onto a sheet of paper, and drew a
hanging stand (what do they call those things???) between each copy of
the alphabet.

On the overhead, I illustrated with:

___ ___ ___ = Yo ___ ___ ___

They asked: ?Hay un "d"?, etc. and I wrote in: D A R = Yo D O Y

They had no difficulty understanding how to play, or understanding that
they should vary the responses by changing the pronoun from "yo" to
"tu", etc. for the stem-changers.

Each student was allowed six errors, before he/she "died" and it became
the other partner's turn.

As they worked with stem changers, they got very tricky and would
sometimes ask for the "el" or "ellos" form, but other times would ask
for "nosotros" - where the stem doesn't change.

The follow up assignment asked students to write five sentences about
other students in the class, using the verbs we had been practicing.
This, too, worked well. Por ejemplo: Kayle *almuerza* con Carolina todos
los dias.

Judy Robb


96/03 From-> Laura <>
Subject: Re: Another nerf-like activity

James wrote:
>>in conjugating the verb! My purpose in posting this message is to please
>>remember that this is *not* a fun activity for everyone! There is some stress

And Lauralie added:
>I thought about what you said above and remembered seeing actual suffering
>in the eyes of a painfully shy student of mine when this activity was in progress.
>It was as though she stood there concentrating more on the possibility that the
>dreaded object might come her way than she was on language. I try to be aware
>of the poor little sensitive kids, but no activity pleases everyone. Most kids enjoy
>it, so I keep on.

I'd like to add: would having students in pairs help at all? They would
catch the nerf ball as a pair, then have to answer as a pair. This might
take time as they talk things out... Hmmmm... OR, you could assign
person A in the pair to be the catcher and person B in the pair as the

Laura Kimoto


96/03 From-> Susan Mitchell <>
Subject: Re: Another nerf-like activity/bananas/subs

No, you are not the only one with kids in the classroom who would soon
be pelting them at the "uncool" kids--they manage to do this anyway from
time to time either verbally or with something. And yes, some students
would not involve the whole class, but only keep it going among their

I try to do activities in which students have to involve as many as
possible in the classroom and if I notice that some people have not been
involved, then I step in and ensure that the next question or whatever
is directed to those left out. I do this either by changing the activity
(such as question/ or verb tense or whatever we are doing to vary the
answer and to make the students think) and then call on one of those who
have been left out and will also direct them to call on Juan or Pablo or
whoever. And please don't send flaming remarks about this---this is my
way of trying to make sure everyone in my class participates.

Susan Mitchell


96/04 From-> Stan Oberg <>
Subject: Re: Another nerf-like activity/bananas/subs

Susan George wrote:
<<<<<2) i agree with james, that still the idea of having to catch
something is indeed intimidating for many people, including myself

4) am i the only teacher who has kids in the classroom, who if given any
ammunition--kooshballs included--will quickly launch or drill it at the
nearest "not so cool" kid or only send it to their friends, thus
terrorizing or excluding the majority of the class?>>>>>

I may have some solutions to your concerns. A. Since a Koosh ball
doesn't roll, you could just plop it on the desk of the intended
student, thereby eliminating the worry over having to catch it. B. Have
the student return the ball to the teacher after answering, so that it
is always the teacher who chooses the next student.

This activity, it seems to me, can be used for DRILL (horrors!), as well
as for less structured, although still teacher-centered, activities.

I, myself have used short, quick drills, in a format I learned in a
workshop with John Rassias. To my way of thinking, these drills can be
valuable, but need to be done quickly, and for a very brief period of
time before moving on to other types of activities.

Stan Oberg


96/04 From-> Rita Lynn Watkins <>
Subject: Re: Another nerf-like activity

Two comments on nerf-type activities:
1. Speaking as a super-klutz when it comes to catching things, I can not
only identify with the problem, but offer a semi-solution. I use a SMALL
teddy bear instead of a ball. "Osito" must be handled very gently,
therefore when tossed it MUST be done with care so he doesn't fall. Yes,
these are kids in grades 9-12 and they adore that bear!

2. The bear is also used in another activity which I really prefer.
Desks are arranged in a circle and the bear is passed to music (cultural
opportunity). Depending on the level, the student who has the bear when
the music stops must answer a question or make a statement using target
vocabulary. A second bear is added if I want two answers in order to
involve more students more rapidly. Sometimes they receive points for
having answered successfully (therefore they don't try to throw him away
at the last minute. I also do this with word cards with the goal of
recognizing vocabulary/making sentences with it.

Rita Lynn Watkins


96/05 From-> Elma Chapman <>
Subject: Re: Reviewing vocab / kanji

I know nothing of Japanese and Kanji, but a good review game before
finals for any language is to put students in groups and then give them
a topic and give them three minutes to list all the words they can
pertaining to that category. Then each group reads its list aloud and
crosses off any words also on another group's list. The group with the
most words left wins. This encourages students to go beyond the obvious,
because they soon realize they'll lose those words in the end anyhow.
Categories can be related to grammar (irregular past participles),
vocabulary (things found in a school, foods, things that are purple...),
culture (landmarks in Paris, physical features on a German map. . .),
just about anything you have studied during the year.

Elma Chapman


96/08 From-> Maureen Sloan <>
Subject: Re: Bingo

I have long used Bingo in my classes; except I call it "Lingo" for
"language Bingo." We call the free space "gratis." I use it for much
more than numbers, though. Students can fill the grids with any current
vocabulary--foods, verbs [or verb forms], clothing, adjectives, etc.
Frequently I'll have them make a 4x4 grid instead of 5x5, sometimes with
and sometimes without "gratis." Often what I call is not the word
itself--but a synonym, an antonym, or reference to a picture of the
item, etc. Students who win [usually homework passes] must not only call
out their words, but prove that they understand the meaning.

Another way I'll use Lingo is a variation on the interview activity. In
a standard interview, students are given a list of questions to ask, or
statements followed by a blank line. Eg., Find someone who . . . has two
sisters, is an only child, has two grandmothers, is married, has three
female cousins, etc., etc. They circulate around the room, asking
questions of classmates, getting a different signature for each item. In
the Lingo version, each of the "stems" is placed into one of the boxes
on the Lingo grid. Object is the same as before--get one signature for
each space. THEN, once everyone [or almost everyone] has signatures,
students sit down to play--but now I call out names of students in the
class [or my name, if I've signed, too, as in "married"]. Upon winning,
students must state what they've found out: "Mrs. Sloan is married. Mary
has three female cousins. etc." This version can be applied to many topics,
even subject matter.

The boxes might be: "________ knows how many protons are in a hydrogen
There are ____ protons." The signer must also fill in the answer to the

Usually, I'll continue a game, without clearing the boards, until about
1/3 of the class has won. Lots of fun, even for the students who are
having difficulty in the class!

Maureen Sloan <>


96/08 From-> "Jessica A. Roberts" <>
Subject: Re: Bingo

I think a great way to use Bingo is for learning verbs. Play the regular
game of Bingo using unconjugated verbs in the spaces. The student who
wins can only be considered the winner if he is able to conjugate the
verbs in his winning row. It is more difficult, but the game environment
makes learning verb conjugation more interesting.

Jessica A. Roberts


96/08 From-> Brian Bohlander <>
Subject: Re: Bingo

Jessica A. Roberts wrote:

>I think a great way to use Bingo is for learning verbs. Play the regular
>game of Bingo using unconjugated verbs in the spaces.

I do something similar. I put a list of 6 or 7 infinitives on the
chalkboard and my students put a conjugated form on their board (which
they can make out of scrap paper). I call out: "traer in the yo form".
If they have traigo, they mark it off. This isn't quick, but they enjoy
it and it is easy for me. I make cards ahead of time with what I call
off and pick them out of a bucket. I keep the cards from year to year.
That way I can verify what I called. The student only gets the reward if
all of the forms are conjugated correctly in the row.

Brian Bohlander


96/10 From-> Paula Christensen <>
Subject: Re: Let's trade Spanish I games.

Hi, My name is Paula and I teach Spanish (FLES) at Essex Elementary. A
game my intermediate students love is Espacio Vacio. It can be used with
any vocabulary words.

Choose 7 students to be up and one student to be the caller. Draw a long
horizontal line on the chalkboard and divide it into seven equal spaces.
One student labels a space Espacio Vacio, and the other 6 put in the
vocabulary word of their choice from the words being used. (ie. colors,
clothes, foods, etc.) All words should be different. The caller must
memorize or write down the words on the board. The seven then stand in
front of any word, they may move to one they did not write. The caller
is turned so he/she can't see who is in front of the words. The caller
calls the words at random and whoever is in front of the called word
sits down. The students may move each time a word is called, so the
teacher or a monitor must let the caller know when to say a word. The
last one standing becomes the caller for the next round. The teacher
must pick the next group to go up to the board to put up new words. It
is a fun game once the students get the idea, and they ask to play it
all the time. I limit it to just once or twice a month so it doesn't
lose it's appeal.

I hope this is a useful idea, I don't usually send messages to the whole



96/10 From-> "Novela 3525@AOL.Com" <>
Subject: Let the Games Begin!!!!!!!

Hola Listeros!

I have quite a few of games and activities to make my darling students
enjoy learning more!! I will share some with you. *****Some of these
games I have learned, some I have made variations to, some I have
borrowed, and some I have created .

Matamoscas (Fly-swatter Game):

1. I have feet and hands labeled left hand, right hand, etc. on the
walls in my room. I also teach them (TPR) arriba (or para arriba), and
abajo I make sure that the students practice this with TPR . This is
important because these are the only words they may use to help their
team mate.

2. Now get a transparency and write vocabulary words at random, zig-zag,
in different directions. I have used pictures for the reflexive, verb
conjugations, numbers, situations, pictures with feelings, etc.,etc. The
way I do the pictures is I paste them on paper and then I make a

3. Divide the class in two teams. Get 2 fly-swatters, and get the first
two students in each team. Have them stand on either side of the screen
and give them the word, conjugation,etc. The first student that "swats"
the correct word gets the point.

4. I only allow 2 swats per student. (otherwise they would be swatting
all over the place!!!!!)

5. What happens if the student doesn't know the word?? Well here's where
knowing your directions helps!!! The rest of the students get to tell
(more like yelling!!) their team mates to go left, right, up, down,....
They must use only Spanish.(or TL)

6. The first team to get 5 points gets whatever prize I have for them.
(pesos, candy, stickers, a hug, HW pass etc.) I usually play 3-4 sets.
That way they all can get a chance to "win".

Nilsa Sotomayor


96/10 From-> "Novela 3525@AOL.Com" <>
Subject: Let the Games Begin!!!!!!!

The kids (HS Students!) love this game. I also use it to review for
tests and for anything else I can dream up.

Toilet Paper Conversation--(Love my titles???) :-)- I first ask my
students to put away their backpacks and purses--anything that could be
used to stuff something into!!

Then I take out my toilet paper roll and unroll some. I keep what I have
unrolled and give the roll to the first student. I only ask them to
please unroll a piece keeping the amount they desire. I usually take
attendance and walk around the room observing the amounts taken. (at the
end of these directions, I have included some suggestions on how to
avoid the inevitable)

Once they have their own pieces I begin: For each piece of toilet paper
I have, I will make a statement, ask a question, or identify an object
in the classroom, on the wall, or ceiling! This way even the most timid
or lower level student can participate. (I tear a piece off of TP for
every sent., ques., etc.) While I'm doing this, I write it on the overhead
so they can also visualize my directions.


SENTENCE: Yo soy Nilsa Sotomayor. Yo comi arroz ayer. (I'm Nilsa
Sotomayor. I ate rice yesterday)

QUESTION: Eres un chico? Adonde fuiste ayer?(Are you a boy? Where did
you go yesterday?) (question may be directed to another student. If the
student answers correctly he/she may tear a piece of TP) VOCABULARY: Es
una silla. Es un periodico. etc. WARNING!!!!!!!!!!! Once the students
realize what they have to do, there will be some who will try yo
"dispose" some of their TP. Warn them that you will subtract points
rather than add.

WARNING!!!!!!!Once you have played this once, the little darlings will
try to take just half a piece of toilet paper!! Ahhhhhhhh but we
Language Teachers are smarter then they are--aren't we? :-) I fixed that
by: [BEFORE THEY KNOW WHAT THEY ARE GOING TO DO (you've got to stay 3
steps ahead of them. :-) ) ]

1. Changing the value of each piece of TP. 2. Instead of passing the
roll to the student behind, throw to a student I identify. That student
has to take whatever has unrolled. 3. Have students choose a number
1-20, jot it down, and then take the TP out (watch their eyes pop out!)
and unroll the number they chose. (Sometimes I stand by the door and ask
them for the number as they come in)

I came up with these alternate ideas because I have multiple classes of
one level and you all know how they can spread the word.

Well gotta go. I'm off to Mass. I shall return!

Nilsa Sotomayor


96/10 From-> Beverly Maass <>
Subject: Let the games begin

El Juego Silencioso (The Silent Game)

First of all I have to give my sister-in-law, Marilyn, credit for the
invention of this game. This is a great game because it is done in the
language and it is easy to set up.

I divide the class into groups of 4 or 5 students, partly by where the
students are sitting and partly to balance each group. All books,
notebooks, etc. are put away, and each group selects a secretary, who
has the only pencil and paper.

Then I announce a letter of the alphabet, and each group works together
to make as long a list as possible of words beginning with that letter.
The groups almost always work very quietly because it is a race. No
proper nouns or plurals are allowed, and only one form of an adjective
can be used. All infinitives can be conjugated in the tenses that have
been learned. The words must be spelled correctly and proper accents
added in order to be correct.

There is a time limit that I set. Sometimes it is 45 secs, but more
often it is 2 to 2 1/2 mins. When I call time, each group stops and
passes its paper to another group to correct their list of words. I
circulate to help check the answers.

Boy, do they closely check each other's spelling, and that is part of
the value of the game! The groups circle the incorrect answers (so the
errors can still be seen) and count the correct answers and score the

Papers are passed back and each group tells me their score, which I post
on the board. Then another round can begin with a different letter. I
keep adding to the scores on the board as each round is played. Usually
we do about 5 to 6 different rounds. Sometimes I have a student do the
scoring on the board for me. Also a great vocab. review.



96/10 From-> Jenna Keller <>
Subject: Spanish Games


It is the Spanish version of BINGO. Sorry again if it is a repeat. I
learned this when observed in a Spanish I and IV class. It was used as
an exercise and as a review.

Make a series of boxes similar to bingo but do not put the letters above
them. Gano is simply used when the student wins and yells "GANO" The
teacher I observed left all of the spaces blank. She would put a list of
words down at the bottom of the paper (more than needed to fill the

The students get to pick the words they want and fill in the spaces. In
Spanish I the words were adjectives such as alto, rubio, moreno. The
teacher then would say phrases that described people. Often she had
photos of famous people to aid in the phrases. The students had to
finish the sentences or answer them. they would cover the appropriate
word, if it was one they had chosen in the beginning. a lot of fun and
gets all of the students involved. For Spanish IV, the game was used as
a review for a geography test. the students filled in the spaces with
words from the list. The teacher would say descriptions or point to a
highlighted part of a map.

The game was also used as a time filler. When she found she had an extra
5 or so minutes she would pull out the GANO and review the days

Buene Suerte,


96/11 From-> Denise M Jones <>
Subject: Re: class activity

My 6th and 8th graders do a calendar project. I give them a grid and the
requirements are as follows:

1. Label the days of the week, the month, and the year in the target
2. Spell out the numbers of the days ( use an English calendar to make
sure you are starting the correct day for that month - e.g. Nov 1 is
on a Friday)
3. Write in target lang. holidays, birthdays, etc.
4. At the top, draw a seasonal picture, you can label it with a target
lang. weather expression. Also show people speaking the language in
cartoon bubbles.

This is a good review of greetings, numbers, weather, days, months, and
holidays. Each students does four different months. I give them a couple
days in class and the weekend to finish their project. I have received
some wonderful results!

Denise Jones


96/11 From-> Steven Langlois <etienne@LON.HOOKUP.NET>
Subject: Re: Just a fun game idea to share with you...

Dear Colleagues,

Here's a game idea for the weeks coming before Christmas. If your
students get restless and you need a fun idea, try this one out! Tell me
what you think or tell me of something similar you may have done.



The classroom is set up with a first, second, third and home base, as
well as an outfield area for the defensive team. One team begins in the
outfield, as the other is lined up behind home plate, ready to bat. Each
member of the outfield will receive a glove with a vocabulary word or
conjugated verb written inside.

"Le batteur" rolls a die and "l'arbitre" (umpire-a student designated to
keep score) calls out the number (in the Foreign language, of course.
We'll use French as the example).

1= single 3=triple 5=une prise (strike)
2= double 4=homerun 6=une balle (ball)

If the die indicates a number between 1-4, the batter may advance as
indicated if he/she successfully identifies (for vocabulary) or
conjugates (verbs) the ball thrown to him/her by "le lanceur" (the
teacher). If the die indicates a 5 or 6, "l'arbitre" will write the
correct mark on the board - "une prise" (strike) or "une balle" (a
ball). If a batter, in one at-bat accumulates 3 strikes he are out (this
is highly unlikely). If the batter accumulates 4 balls (even more
unlikely), she may advance to first base.

After the batter has rolled a 1, 2, 3 or 4 and is ready for the pitch,
the "lanceur" throws a pitch by handing the batter (student) a ball
containing a vocabulary picture or a pronoun and verb to conjugate. The
batter is then required to successfully identify the vocabulary word or
conjugate the verb on the ball. If the answer given by the batter is
correct, she/he may advance as far as the die, which was previously
rolled, indicates.

If the batter fails in this regard, the teacher shows the defensive team
the ball with the picture or verbal conjugation and says "Pop up!" At
this point, an outfielder who believes she/he possesses the "glove" with
the proper matching vocabulary word or verbal conjugation may respond,
"I've got it!" The teacher then asks the student to read her/his
"glove." If the glove does indeed provide the correct answer, the batter
is out. If the student who says, "I've got it!" has the incorrect
"glove," or if the student with the correct matching glove fails to
respond, "I've got it!" and identify the answer within five seconds, the
play is considered an error and the batter advances to first base.

There are 3 outs per inning. The "umpire" is in charge of marking the
balls and strikes as well as the score, on the board. Runs are scored by
force only! This means that runners can only be pushed in, by "un
ailier" (base runner) who is advancing from behind to assume the
position presently held by another base runner. After three outs the
team at bat takes to the field and gets a glove from an outfielder on
the other team who is coming in to bat.

You can play this game for oral comprehension and manipulation practice
with any thematic vocabulary or verb. One of the many possible
variations to this game asks the students to spell the word or verb
and/or use it in a sentence.

Play with this, change it. Make it work for you!

Have fun and they will too,

Steven Langlois


96/12 From->
Subject: Classroom games

Papas Calientes

This game is played in a circle or up and down the rows. Give the
students a category such as all the new vocabulary in the current
section, food words, clothing words, etc. The first student says a
Spanish word - the next student must say the word in English. Each
student has only 5 seconds (or any specific time) to respond. If the
student does not respond he/she must stand up and also receives a point.
The one with the least points wins. If a student cannot respond the next
student must give the correct answer or he/she also receives a point.
The student may sit back down if he responds correctly the next time his
turn comes around. (I tried this in class and the kids loved it. Another
version that we also tried at the students suggestion was to use related
words instead of words in one category. For example: manzana, rojo,
azul, cielo, viento, llueve, impermeable, falda, chica. Each word only
has to relate to the word that precedes it.)

Dawn Smith


96/12 From->
Subject: Classroom games

Tarjetas Corridas (Racing Cards - do I have this right?)

Make a set of cards as follows: Make two sets of matching cards. For
example an "a" set and a "b" set. On the back of each "a" card put one
item with a matching item on the "b" card. For example: the same number
on each pair of cards, the same letter on each pair of cards, the same
picture of an animal, food, or the same color on each pair of cards
(glue on a piece of construction paper to show colors.) etc... Give each
student a card. Make a set of calling cards (like in Bingo) that
includes 2 - 3 of each item included on the student cards. (I have two
sets that I use constantly - one set with numbers and "a" or "b", and
another set with letters and either 1 or 2.)

To play the game ask review questions, then pause to give everyone time
to think. Then say one of the words on the card. The two students with
that card will race to give the correct answer. Students will be on
either the "a" or the "b" team depending on which card they have. To
receive a point the student must tell me in Spanish which team he is on.
They get a kick out of this as students often forget to say it in
Spanish when the game is close. If a student calls out an answer out of
turn I take a point from their team.

This game really keeps them on their toes because the teacher may call
their card 2 or 3 times during the game ... sometimes twice in a row. We
used to play until the calling cards ran out, but lately we've been
playing to 15. I hope these instructions make sense. I came up with this
game last year and use it often. I like the fact that it reviews two
sets of vocab at once, the question set and the set on the cards. I have
also used this successfully with Geography classes and US History.

Dawn Smith


96/12 From->
Subject: Great vocab review game (any language)

I had my Spanish 3's spend the entire hour pouring through their notes,
looking for words and phrases -- all because they thought they were
playing a game (which they were! I love having a hidden agenda, heh
heh)! We reviewed 12 weeks of vocabulary (including phrases) this way.
Here's the set-up:

1. Divide the class in half (two equal teams). Pick a "Vanna White" to
keep score.

2. Set up six chairs in front of the room (three for each team).

3. For each "round," three students from each team occupy these seats;
they bring their notebooks with them. (I'll refer to them as the

4. First, the three players from Team A put their notebooks under their
seats. Each of the three players from Team B asks the Team A players one
vocabulary question, which any of the Team A players can answer. The
Team A players, each in turn, can request either a 3-point or a 5-point
question, to wit:
3 points: "?Que significa ____?" (Span ---> Eng [easier]) 5 points:
"?Como se dice ___?" (Eng ---> Span [harder]) Team A is only given one
attempt to answer the question. If the answer is wrong, we proceed to
the next question (the correct answer is revealed at the end of the
round, but no points are awarded for it at that point). If none of the
three Team A players wants to venture a guess, then any student from the
Team A side of the room (and they DO have access to their notebooks) may
volunteer the answer, for 1 point. This gets ALL the students looking
through their notebooks constantly, looking for the answers as well as
searching for questions THEY will pose when it is their turn.

5. Then, the 3 players from Team B put their notebooks under their
chairs, and Team A gets to look through their notebooks and pose
questions to the Team B players, as described in step 4.

6. At the conclusion of a "round," the six players return to their own
seats and the next 3 students from each side come up and become the
"players" for the next round. This way, everybody gets a turn to pose as
well as answer questions, and no one student is ever completely on the
spot alone.

I hope it is clear that, while the 6 players bring their notebooks with
them to the "hot seats," they may only have access to them while they
are POSING questions, but not while they are ANSWERING questions.
The motivation for requesting a 3-pointer instead of a 5-pointer every
time, is this: In any round, the maximum points a team could earn is 15
(for three 5-pointers). However, if none of the 3 players can give the
correct answer to a 5-pointer on the team's one-and-only attempt to
answer it, they've lost their chance to earn 5 points, whereas they
might have been able to answer an easier 3-pointer. Generally the
players requested a 5-pointer if they felt confident that at least one
of the 3 seated players was a pretty strong student (since ANY of the 3
seated players can answer the question).

I hope these directions are clear. It worked GREAT in my classes. Happy
holidays to all,

Stephanie Campbell


97/02 From->
Subject: Re: BODY PARTS


Using that same Twister mat or a shower curtain and the pictures from
the Basic Vocabulary Builder (NTC) , you can create your own "Body Part
Twister game.

What you do is enlarge the pictures in the book. Trace them onto the

Buy 2 spinners--the kind that's transparent or the kind you can write on
with a permanent marker. Label one with the different body parts and the
other with left foot, right foot, etc.--all in the target language. To
play spin both spinners and call out the result. I have photos of my
students playing this game that I will use as "blackmail" in the
future!!! :-) There's another book--Practical Vocabulary Builder (NTC)
that has additional pictures. Both books are very good. They have all
the vocabulary in Spanish, French, English, Italian, German. Russian, and
Vietnamese. It's got teaching suggestions and activities also. I've used
both books to make flashcards, transparencies, game cards, etc...

Nilsa Sotomayor


97/03 From-> John Fain <>
Subject: Re: Game techniques for classroom exercises

A game that I use when I feel that my students are beginning to doubt
that they know any Spanish words is a very simple vocabulary game.

1. Put the students into groups (2-4 usually) depending upon class size.
[If you're like me, most classes have a prime number (9, 11, 13, 17,
etc.) of students and groups are never even.]

2. One piece of paper per group and one writing utensil. 3. Give
criteria for the words they must produce. For example:
En un minuto, escriban las palabra que...
1. empiezan con "r" [begin with 'r']
2. tienen tres vocales [have three vowels]
3. tienen tres consonantes juntos [have three consonants together]
4. empiezan y terminan con la misma letra [begin and end with the same
5. refieren a un viaje por avio'n [refer to a trip by airplane] etc.
etc. The topics become more difficult at increasing levels but I always
start with a simpler one as a warmup.
6. After the time period is up collect the papers and give points by the
number of correct words on their list. Watch out for duplicates!

My students really like this game. Other teachers to whom I have
introduced this game have really liked it to. A side benefit of this
game is that it is a quiet game. If you're playing topic #4, very soon
after someone yells out, "Ah, romper," the kids learn how to whisper.



97/03 From-> Janel Brennan <>
Subject: Re: Game techniques for classroom exercises

This is a very simple game I heard about at my inservice yesterday:

Have students in a group. Have one student with a paper and have them
write the alphabet down the side. Tell them what the topic is (for
ex-food) Then they pass the paper around to the others and have them
write a word they can think of that starts with that letter until they
have exhausted all possibilities.

Another variation on this is to play music as they are passing around
the paper and when the music stops they could switch to a different
topic, or count up the words they have.

You can do this w/ verbs also: have one student write a verb in the
infinitive and a subject next to it: hablar (yo) pass it to the next
person , they conjugate the verb and then write a new one with a subj
and pass it along.

Also at the inservice, a teacher presented a really creative way to
review vocab. (one down side is that it requires A LOT of preparation)
She hangs "stations" around the room - pieces of paper with a
description in Spanish of their vocab word. ie: Es una cosa que llevas
en la cabeza. _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _. There are many of these hung all over the
room and the students are moving around solving the puzzle. At each word
there may be a number under one of the letters. At the end of the
activity, students use these numbers to come up with a secret word. (She
uses proverbs) This is just a larger version of those regular paper
puzzles. I think it would be wonderful especially since we our classes
are 78 minutes every other day and I need as many activities like this
that I can find!

Janel Brennan


97/03 From-> Roxann Trenda <>
Subject: Re-game techniques/directions for Clue

Cathy Quinn asked about the game of Clue. I have used two different
types - one a copy of the original board game with all the rooms,
suspects and weapons done in French, but the other is an adaptation for
classroom vocabulary.

1) First I choose the vocabulary categories I wish to work with that
could fit into one basic sentence. For example, PEOPLE, PLACES, and
TRANSPORTATION, could fit into a sentence like "His mother is going to
the beach by car". You need about 6 variables for each category, giving
a total of about 18 words. I find a picture to represent each of the
words (I copy them from our text or ask a student to help make a sketch)
then I put all 18 pictures on 2 or 3 pages of 8 x 11 paper. I make
enough copies to have a complete "deck" to cut up for each group of 2 or
3 students. I use just plain colored paper, which works fine, but stiff
paper or laminated copies would last longer.

2) Next, I have the students write out their own "Detective Notes" which
is a list of all the variables and a space to check off those used
during the game.

3) To play, each group has ONE deck of cards and each player has his own
Notes. First, all the cards are sorted by category into three piles,
then, one category at a time, with the cards FACE DOWN, and without
showing the picture side, one card is chosen from each category and
hidden (under a book, etc) from everyone's view. The three hidden cards
form the "secret sentence" the students will try to discover during the
course of the game. Still face down, the remaining cards are mixed and
dealt out equally to each player.

4) Each player secretly records on his own Detective Notes what cards he
holds (which of course, therefore, CANNOT be any of the three hidden
cards in the secret sentence)

5) Players then take turns asking each other for a "clue" about the
cards in their hands in order to discover the secret sentence by
eliminating those which cannot be in the hidden spot. They ask for
example "Is his father going to the mountains by train?". The second
player needs to show only ONE card (even if he has more than one) to the
first player if has any cards in the sentence.

6) Game continues until some can guess the secret sentence correctly to
win. I set a time limit and have the students repeat games if necessary
until I say "stop". Those who have not finished at that point can take
one last guess each, then look at the cards for the answer. As a
variation I sometimes use a larger set of pictures and play with one
side of the class against the other. I remove the three cards that form
the "secret sentence" without revealing them. I have the two sides of
the room turn their desks and FACE each other, and the students take
turns asking me for clues. I show the card asked for to that one team
only. I also have a "mistake" card that I show to a team if they have
formed an incorrect sentence, which of course results in no clue for
that turn. The students seem to enjoy either variety of the game.

Roxann Trenda


97/03 From-> Mary Young <>
Subject: Re: Game techniques for classroom exercises

>How do you play Clue? I would like the detatils of how to play it. Do you
>turn the classroom into a whole house? How are all the students involved?


Here's what I did with my French I classes. This is a classroom
adaptation of the boardgame.

I divided them into groups of 4.

In each group I had them choose a floorplan to play from (they had drawn
floorplans of their own house or a dream house as homework the night
before). The house had to have eight rooms (not counting rooms with

I distributed 3x5 cards cut in half (16 of them).

On four of the cards they were to write & draw a rope, a wrench, a gun,
a dagger. (One item per card.)

On four other cards they are to draw stick faces and label them Mme
Leblanc, Mlle Rose, M. Prévert, and Col. Moutarde. (Again, 1 item per

On the remaining 8 cards they write the name of each room on the

(I don't know why you couldn't go with more than 4 weapons or suspects,
except that I only wanted play to last about 15 minutes).

The object of the game is to guess who killed M. Lenoir, in which room
and with what weapon. This information is "determined" by drawing a card
from each of the 3 categories without looking at it, and putting all 3
cards in an envelope out of sight. The cards that remain are mixed up
and passed out to the players.

In the meantime, each student prepares a grid listing all 4 suspects,
all 4 weapons, and all 8 rooms.

Once everyone has their cards each one goes through his/her own grid and
checks off the cards s/he has in his/her hand, because they know these
cards are not in the envelope. They have to figure out which cards *are*
in the envelope, thus finding out who killed M. Lenoir.

They will find out from their teammates which cards *they* are holding
in this manner: (this is different from the board game) A player
announces, "Je vais à la cuisine" and moves his playing piece (a coin,
a paperclip, etc.) to the kitchen. There he says, "J'accuse Mlle Rose
dans la cuisine avec le poignard." He then turns to the player on his
left. If that player has a card for Mlle Rose, la cuisine or le
poignard, he must show it to the first player (not to the rest of the
players). He only has to show one of the cards, if he has more than one.
The first player eliminates the card he was shown from the potential
solution by checking it off on his grid. He shows this to no one else.
Play moves to the left, with each person taking a turn moving to a room,
accusing someone of committing the crime in that room, identifying the
weapon, finding out which cards are in the others' hands, etc.

If the player to the left doesn't have any cards to show, then the
player to *his* left must show a card, etc. When you have guessed and no
one has any cards to show you, you can open the envelope. If you are
right, you win. If you are not, you obviously can't guess anymore, but
you must show your cards to the others as they guess.

_Fortunately_, a lot of your students know how to play this game. These
instructions look pretty complicated. My purpose in doing this game was
to get them to use the rooms of the house a lot. There is plenty for
each person to do to construct the game: drawing and making the half 3x5
cards, making the grid-- this also gives them a chance to write the
words again. And when they play and are asked to show the cards there is
more reinforcement.

Since the play is so closely scripted they don't have to ad lib much if
they are shy.

I kept their games in envelopes so we can use them again. I've had them
play twice so far during this unit on the house. It went much more
smoothly the second time.

You may be able to pick up a used Clue game at a garage sale, or at
Target or KMart for not too much money. That might make more sense.

To demonstrate this before having the whole class do it, I would suggest
an overhead of a floorplan, some cards or pictures or wordstrips to
represent the cards, and a couple of students to role-play the other

I bet this could be adapted away from a murder to other settings and
vocabularies. Maybe "Chefs": Who put the secret ingredient in the menu
"J'accuse Mlle Escoffier d'avoir mis le poivre dans la bouillabaisse."

Ah, the possibilities are endless.

Good luck,



97/04 From-> Julianne Baird <>
Subject: Easy Vocab Game (semi-long)

I played a vocab game with my German 2, 3 and 4 classes this week and it
went really well. The kids like it so I thought I would share it with
the list.

Items Needed: Game Board (described below), 1 marker for each team,
vocab list or vocab cards, 1 chair for each team, and overhead.

1) Divide the class into teams and position 1 chair for each team around
the overhead in the front of the room.

2) On a transparency make a game board. The board is simply a grid. I
mine was 7 columns by 5 lines. On my grid 5 teams could play and they
would have to translate 7 vocab words correctly to win. The next time I
play, I think I will make 10 columns. The first column is the starting
column and the last column is the "Finish Line."

Rules of the Game
1) One person from each team sits in the team chair at the front of the
room. That person can stay for no more than 3 consecutive turns, and
then must trade with another team member.

2) Each team will be given a vocabulary word starting with team 1. Only
the person in the team chair may answer. If the translation is correct,
the team advances 1 square. If the translation is incorrect, the team
moves backwards one square (or stays on the starting line).

3) A team can challenge another team. When it is Team X turn, instead of
receiving a vocab word to translate, the team X member in the chair
yells "Challenge" or something appropriate to the target language. That
team can call on ANY member of Team Z and ask him or her a vocab word
from the list. If the team Z member answers correctly, team Z advances 1
square, but if the answer is incorrect, team Z moves all the way back to
the starting line.

In my upper level classes this game moved quickly. We played several
times by having the winning team member become team capitans of the next
round. The capitans picked new teammates. In German 2 we had 6 minutes
left after we finished the game. Instead of sitting and talking to
others, the kids wanted to start a second game. I know this game isn't
communicative, but it helped tremendously with learning the vocab and it
was a nice pick-me up for my students this time of year.

The way that I handle the vocab list is that I put the list next to the
overhead and I use a die. I start at the top and roll the die. If I roll
a 6, I count down 6 words and use that word. The next roll might be a 4
so I count down 4 words from the last word used and keep going this way.
This method works well for me.

Julie Baird


97/04 From-> Susan <>
Subject: kooky bingo

As my students called it in exploratory German....kooky bingo -
cause.....Ms. Finkel had to play bingo a different way. Students make a
grid like a regular bingo game - 25 spaces. Have students number from
1-25 out of order. Then, the teacher will call out numbers randomly and
then here is where you get creative. You can use what ever to test the
students. I used this to review body parts, all kinds of vocab, etc. I
have had student draw the items in or write them in the target language
or in English. Where it gets kooky is when i have the students put their
answers not in the space i call out but in the one to the right of it or
the left. This really tests whether students are following directions
and it allows for students resusing these bingo charts a few times in



97/04 From-> Steve Quick <>
Subject: Re: kooky bingo

I do bingo every once and a while and do the same kooky things but I
always use different letters of the alphabet on the top, especially the
vowels for the beginners. Kids love to play.

Steve Quick
Naselle, WA

I also enjoy the alphabet game, but we use names, cities and object.
Ariel lives in Arles and sells apples. Use any language you like.


97/04 From-> Ian Wright <>
Subject: Vocab Game

Hi All;

Just a little game I did the other day which worked out better than I
thought. I did it as a pairing exercise but in retrospect it looks good for
vocab. review. See what you think of it.

a) Hand out slips to each student with a word to be reviewed. (Or new
word, in which case they can look it up in the dictionary.) There must
be two of each word , so there are two students in the class with the
each word.

b) Give 5 minutes for them to write a sentence using their word. They must
leave a blank instead of the word, only using the first letter. The sentence
must illustrate the word as unambiguously as possible. (Eg. My mother
always sends me a peanut butter s________ for lunch. )

c) The students then circulate saying their sentences to their
classmates until they find the one with the same word.

d) Students stand up in their pairs and read their sentences to class.
Class must try guess what the word is. (Can be done in teams)

Ian Wright


97/08 From-> "Jean L. Pacheco" <>
Subject: Games

Here are two more games that can be used by elementary foreign language

l. Fairy Door--The teacher places vocabulary pictures in different
places in the room. One child is the fairy and has the magic wand. He
touches a picture. Another child names it. This is a good game to play
before recess because then the children can go through the door.
2. Witches Brew--One child is selected as the witch and wears the
witch's hat, or the teacher may dress up in a witch costume. The other
children help her stir the brew. The game is for about 6 players. (You
need a black cauldron which you can easily buy this time of the year).
The children form a circle around the witch and chant with her, "Stir,
and stir, and stir my brew." They keep repeating until the witch claps
her hands. Each child reaches down and picks up a picture from the
witch's brew in the cauldron. Each child gives the name of the picture
in Spanish. If he gets it right, he keeps the word. If not, he puts it
back. The winner is the one with the most words.

Jean Pacheco


97/08 From-> "Jean L. Pacheco" <>
Subject: Games

I meant to include these games in the posting that I did earlier :

1. Hunting--This activity can be done with a small group and with the
basic vocabulary pictures from National Textbook Company. Pass cards to
all but one of the children. Children hold up their vocabulary pictures
(or words) so that they can be seen by the others. When all the cards
are in sight, the teacher names a picture held by one of the children.
The child who has no card goes hunting. If he can find the vocabulary
picture he takes the card and sits in the chair. The child whose card
has been taken becomes the hunter. This is a good way for young children
to practice vocabulary.

2. Ball bounce--The children stand behind their chairs. Each child has a
vocabulary card which he puts on his chair. One child or the teacher
bounces the ball to another child who catches it and says the word. If
he names the picture correctly, he picks up his picture and another
picture is placed in front of the child. At the end of the game, the
child with the most cards is the winner.

jean pacheco


97/09 From-> Richard Snyder <>
Subject: Re: Flyswatter activity

YES! I do this in my German classes with juniors and sophomores. Write
your vocab words, or put pictures, or numbers, or months, days of the
week, adjectives, whatever, on the board (via overhead or markers/chalk)
and call out the words. First to touch the word wins! GREAT for TPR
activities. I put the English word on the board; later i will switch to

Richard Snyder


97/09 From-> Carole Baker <>
Subject: Re: Flyswatter activity

>YES! I do this in my German classes with juniors and sophomores. Write your
>vocab words, or put pictures, or numbers, or months, days of the week, adjectives,
>whatever, on the board (via overhead or markers/chalk) and call out the words.
>First to touch the word wins! GREAT for TPR activities. I put the English word
>on the board; later i will switch to pictures.

Instead of calling out the words, I like to describe the words (give the
definition, etc.) in the TL. This gives the kids listening practice as
well as vocab. practice.



97/09 From-> Andrea Merrifield <>
Subject: Re: Flyswatter activity

I just started using this in Middle School. If you have metal
boards---you can put those little sticky magnets on laminated cards or
pictures. I made two different colored sets and had a contest. The
winner took the card with him/her, and the team with the most was
declared the winner. An extra advantage--the team that was ahead had
fewer cards to look over to find the next answer.

Andrea Merrifield

"No act of kindness, however small, is ever wasted." Aesop


97/09 From-> Mary E Young <>
Subject: Re: Bingo

Here's a low-tech solution from someone who hates to waste printer ink
or xerox paper on 40 copies of something I'll use once or twice.

I have them make their own bingo cards as a sponge activity. I direct
them in L2 to divide their papers into a 5x5 grid (folding or drawing
lines). They use the targeted vocab from their homework or from the
glossary in the book. I have a typed copy (or xeroxed from the book), so
I can cut apart the words. I draw a word, give the clue, and lay them
out roughly alphabetically.

(Once we've done this as a sponge, I can assign it as homework and have
them find magazine pictures when they can.)

They might draw pictures or write the words. If I've had them draw, I
just say the word. For less concrete (drawable) vocab, I have them write
the word and I give a simple definition in the L2, or a "tiret" sentence
: "La famille met des sandwichs et une salade dans un panier pour
faireun --tiret-- a la campagne" (answer: pique-nique)

I have them make a mark in the corner of the square so they can re-use
the sheet at another time.



97/10 From-> Kimberly Huegerich <>
Subject: Re: Guster activities

I do a really fun activity called "corbatines y cuadros" (bowties and
squares). Use words that the students are familiar with and scatter them
on a piece of paper. Each student has a paper. As the students walk into
class hand some a bowtie (piece of black construction paper in form of
rectangle with two notches cut out to look like a bowtie), some a square
(you must have an even number) and some get nothing. Those students with
a bowtie must be addressed formally; those students with squares must be
with a partner who also has a square and be addressed as a group, and
those with nothing will be addressed informally.

When you are ready to begin, everyone at the same time asks each other
"Do you like _________?" (Fill in the blank with something from the
paper) If the person says, "No, I do not like __________." then you go
to another person. If the person says "Yes, I like __________." then
that person signs his name under that item. You continue until all items
are signed.

A follow-up is to bring all the students back together again and ask
questions in the third person. "A quién le gusta el fútbol?" This is an
excellent way to use all forms and the kids love to get up and move

Kim Huegerich


97/10 From-> Mary Johnson <>
Subject: Re: Guster activities

A good gustar activity to use with eighth graders or any lower level
student is one that I use every year. Integrate "me gusta" etc in an
oral activity dealing with food items. You may also be able to work in
how to ask questions with gustar at the same time. If you happen to have
Burger King menus in Spanish, the kids really like telling you what they
like and dislike. You can find the Burger King menus in Spanish at
Teacher Discovery.

Mary Johnson


97/10 From-> James Yoder <>
Subject: Re: Gustar activities

One thing that I did to introduce the concept of "Me gusta..." and "No
me gusta..." was a big hit with my kids (also 8th graders). They had a
lot of fun, and they ALL knew instantly what it meant.

I brought a bunch of cups of to the front of the classroom (enough for
all my students.) Inside the cups I had some type of drink and I had
kids come up one by one to taste the drink. As they did, I asked them
"'¿Te gusta?" (Inside the cups I had either Sprite or Club Soda.) It
was funny to watch the expressions of horror on the faces of the kids
who had the Club Soda, and the faces of relief when a student drank the
Sprite. I didn't tell them before-hand what was in the cups, so they
just had to wonder. Of course the first ones who came up were unaware
of any trickery on my part.

As class was over, I gave each student one of those "Cry Baby" gum-balls
that taste disgustingly sour if you suck on them. The kids love them,
but they taste horrible!! I gave it to them and told them that they
had to suck on it, they couldn't chew. I asked them again: "¿Te

They had to respond with either "Sí, me gusta" or "No, no me gusta."

They were out in the hallways during passing time telling my next
classes about the "fun" lesson we had today. I swore them to secrecy
about the contents in the seemed to work because my 7th period
class was unaware.

James Yoder


97/10 From-> Liz Klem <>
Subject: Re: Guster activities

<< As the students walk into class hand some a bowtie (piece of black
construction paper in form of rectangle with two notches cut out to look
like a bowtie), some a square

I use my husband's discarded neckties (some of them quite interesting)
to signify that the student must be addressed formally. Even the girls
like to wear them. (?) They are an obvious symbol and reusable.



97/10 From-> Pat Kessler <jimkess1104@WORLDNET.ATT.NET>
Subject: Re: Guster activities

>I just spent the past 45 minutes searching through the archives looking
>for gustar activities and I found nothing. Would any of you be willing to
>share your wonderful ideas? I teach 8th grade Spanish 1. Any ideas or
>suggestions you may have will be very much appreciated.

An activity I recently did that my high school students loved was to
push all the desks back out of the way & divide the room into 4 separate
quadrants. The 4 sections were divided into 'me encanta', 'me gusta', no
me gusta', and 'me disgusta'. The students all bunched together in the
middle of the floor & I would call out an activity or some vocabulary
item they had already learned in the target language. The students would
physically move to the quadrant which matched their personal preference
regarding that particular item. We did this for no more than about 5
minutes. For example some of the topics I called out were: limpiar mi
cuarto, ir al cine, hacer la tarea, bailar, jugar futbol, comer pizza,

As a follow up activity at their seats I had a paper which I had
sectioned off into the same 4 quadrants and they had to come up with
their own lists of 20 different items and place them on the grids
according to their personal feelings.

Teacher's Discovery sells a funny video called "Me Gusta" which uses
lots of old movie clips and other funny scenes.

Pat Kessler


97/10 From-> BETH DAMASCUS <>
Subject: "Almost no preparation time" game

Hola listeros!
I just played the "Match game" with my Spanish I students today - it was
not only a big hit, but it involved ALL of them at the same time -
got a little crazy sometimes, but it was great for review! This is what
I did - if you don't care- don't read!:

I had the students line up on opposites of the room, seated in their
desks (desks were facing the middle of the room). I had two desks at the
front of the room with the backs to the rest of the class. Each student
had a marker and about 10-15 small sheets of paper. Then, one member of
each team sat at the front of the room. I called out a description, and
EVERYONE had to write a word that fit the description. We were reviewing
vocabulary from Chpt. 10 of Voces y Vistas - which is mostly animals. So
my descriptions (in SPanish) were:

Name an animal with four legs
Name an animal with two legs
Name an animal with lots of hair
Name an animal that's the same color as the grass Name a person
Name something in the sky
Name something that is man-made
Name something in nature - not an animal or a person

They had to think of vocabulary from the chapter and write the article
and the noun. Once I gave the description twice, I counted to 5. Then,
they ALL had to hold up their paper at the same time. Each team received
points depending upon how many "matches" there were among the team with
the person at the front of the room. If the person at the front didn't
spell the word correctly, used the wrong article, or just didn't use a
word appropriate to the description, then the team didn't get any
points. Each time a different member of the team went to the front of
the room. They could NOT talk during this game! (Of course, there was
talking between descriptions and BRAVOS for the winning team each time)
Preparation time? It took me all of about 5 minutes to come up with the
categories - and I ended up making more on the spot because we had time.
What was great - the category that they missed the first time around, I
made sure I repeated again - this time they KNEW the words! BOY were
they listening! BTW, this was with a class of 23 students. If it were a
larger class, I probably would've had only 5 or 6 students on the
"panel" each time ... but maybe not. Anyway - it worked for me and it
can be used at any level for anything!

Any other ideas for "almost no preparation time" games/activities? Why
not share them with the list? I'm sure others would be interested.

Hasta luego!
Beth D.


97/10 From-> Cherice Montgomery <>
Subject: "Rock & Roll" Game

>Don't know about the $10,000 Pyramid; but I use tic tac toe, pick up sticks,
>baseball , basketball and a game that I call Rock y Roll vocabulario for vocab


You fully intended to elaborate on that "Rock & Roll" idea, but just
forgot right? ;) Might as WELL tell us about pick up sticks while you're
at it, don'tcha think?

Looking forward to being enlightened!

Cherice Montgomery


97/10 From-> Bob Hall <>
Subject: Rock Y Roll Vocabulario

For those of you who have requested them: Here are Rock y Roll
Vocabulario and Pick Up Sticks:


Do you use dice games? I developed one which I call 'Rock y Roll
Vocabulario'. The name is a little misleading since it can be used for
many things.

A pair of dice(one of one color and the other of another color) A game
board (sounds real uptown don't you think?) The game board is actually a
sheet of paper divided into 12 squares and numbered 1 through 12. I
usually have my students use 'junk' notebook paper because after the
game it goes into the 'basuero'.

Divide your class into groups of 4 (your 'familias' possibly?) They are
playing individually/for themselves. They fill in all but the #1
square (can't roll a 1 with two dice) with current vocabulary and, then,
exchange game boards. Student A rolls the dice. Let's say that he rolls
a 6. He looks on his game board and attempts to give the Spanish
equivalent for the English word in the #6 square. If his opponents are
satisfied with his answer he puts his initials in the #6 block on his
game board. The idea is, of course, to practice their Spanish; but also
to have their initials in the most boxes. Therefore, if the same student
rolls a 6 on his next turn he may play off one of his opponents game
boards; and, if successful, initials the #6 box on the opponents game
board. At the end of the allotted time each player counts the number of
times his initials appear on all four sheets. The one whose initials
appear the most wins! I'm sure you can see the possibilities. (The
following is one use that I used two years ago). I used it with my 3rd
year the other day to review the subjunctive with verbs like querer,
aconsejar, desear, etc. I had them put any infinitive in the 11 blocks
except those that cause the use of the subjunctive. They had to
construct subjunctive sentences as they played.

Pick Up Sticks

For this game I use a set of wooden pick up sticks that are fairly
large. I ignore the rules on the container choosing rather to award
points in my own way (explained later). I always tell my students that
we are not playing a game but rather playing Spanish.

Play of the game:
I divide my classes into two equal teams giving each team a name (Tigres
vs. Leones). Again the normal rules(letting the sticks fall where they
may) is ignored. I place the sticks making sure that picking a stick
will not be a breeze. The team that wins the coin toss begins play. I
select the first player to whom I may ask a question (difficulty of
questions vary depending on the class). If the student answers correctly
he automatically gains one team point and has the opportunity to gain
another by picking a stick up without moving any of the others. Caution:
You as the teacher will make the decision about moving sticks so be
prepared to have your eyesight come into question! From this point teams
alternate play for a duration determined by the 'vampire' (read: umpire)
that would be you!

I have also played this game in groups of 4 ; but must admit quality
control is greatly diminished!

Bob Hall

10. Writing.

95/09 From -> "Catherine. Bass" <>
Subject: writing activity --fun

This is another activity which I have used a few times with my French
classes. I used it after having studied "foods" and reviewed articles
and imperative forms.

I give the students a French recipe that i basically cut into many
pieces, i.e. they get a handout with the picture of the cake or whatever
else the recipe is about + a bunch of lists:

- a list of ingredients

- a list of pots and pans and utensils needed - a list of quantities (in
a normal recipe you are given the
ingredients with the corresponding quantities, I like to give 2
different lists so that my students get to play with article rules too,
they know the rules and need to show me that they know how to use those
rules by adding the articles needed)

- a list of verbs (in the infinitive form) - a list of adverbs/adverbial
expressions (the ones that are in the original recipe)

- a list of link words (d'abord, ensuite, puis, apres, enfin, etc..) - a
list of times (the times indicated in the recipe, sometimes there's
more than one)

the students will work in groups:

1) they have to write the recipe, decide what pot to use for what. Same
with the utensils. They also need to decide what ingredients get mixed with
which others and in which order. In other words, they have to try to
come up with a recipe that will produce what's in the picture.

2) they are told to pay attention to articles and verbs (i usually ask
them to conjugate them in the imperative form), and they have to use every
single element given in the different lists. It's up to them though to
use some elements more than once (adverbs for instance)

For one of my recipes (for crepes mousseuses aux pommes), I gave them
the following lists:

pommes golden
sucre en poudre

30 g
1/4 de litre
2 cuilleres a soupe
3 cuilleres a soupe
une pincee

laisser reposer
laisser cuire

sans cesse
jusqu'a epuisement de
en neige ferme
en deux
au fur et a mesure
tamise(e) prealablement
jusqu'a ce que ce soit bien lisse

un fouet
un saladier
une spatule
une poele
un couteau
une louche


Once they have written the recipe, I give them the real recipe, to
compare theirs with it.

If the class in not too large, I ask each group to read their recipe to
the rest of the class. This can be very interesting when you have a
group in which nobody is very good at cooking.

Once, I have given them the original recipe and collected theirs, I give
the following HW assignment:

Write a recipe for Best friends, best teacher, best parents, happy life,
great trip to France, how to become very successful in learning French,
or a recipe for something much more practical: brushing your teeth,
driving your car, playing softball, etc....

In this recipe, they have to give a list of ingredients, describe every
single step, and use as many verbs and other expressions as possible,
just like in the recipe I gave them. Make it a real nice recipe.

Some of the recipes I have received from them, were really cute, some
were very poetic. With my smaller classes, I have been able to gather
all of the recipes and xerox them for every student to see them.

I grade on originality, work well done and on their good use of the
grammatical forms studied.

By the way, I forgot to mention that you may ask your students to use
the recipe they wrote to make the "cake" (not my original recipe but
theirs) and try to make the cake that way, and report on the result or
even bring in the result to class.  That could be very interesting,
unfortunately I have never asked my students to try this.


Catherine Bass


96/11 From-> Michele P Back <wmoutofbnds@JUNO.COM>
Subject: Neato idea

Magnetic Poetry (you know, those little magnet words on other people's
refrigerators---or perhaps your own--- that you can't keep your hands
off of) has made up kits in Spanish, French, and German. They're pretty
pricey but I thought they would be great for teaching anything from
gender agreement to conjugation to poetry. As we all know, kids like
anything that's not on 8 1/2 x 11 sheets of paper. If you want to order
a few kits, you can call them at 1-800-720-7269. I don't know if anyone
else has made this recommendation, as I'm no longer subscribed to the
list, but I thought it would be a good thing to share. Now I just need
to find something flat and metallic upon which to place all of these
little words...

Michele Back (who's fallen in love with teaching inner city high school
kids about the joys of second language acquisition, much to her
surprise. She even liked Homecoming.)

Michele P Back


97/02 From-> Dianna Janke <>
Subject: Student-made FL Newspapers -Reply

This is a good semester project. I have used it several times with final
semester of third year. Look back over the semester and use:

-literature for reviews,

-grammar for kids corner puzzles or an article on a topic which requires
a certain structure,

-vocabulary for articles which would require their use of specific
clusters of vocab studied,

-I have required an oral presentation of at least one of the articles as

It's a nice wrap up. They can produce some outstanding, clever



97/02 From-> rgurnish <>
Subject: Re: Student-made FL Newspapers

Hi Irene: with regard to student made newspapers, how about things
closer to home? I've had students interview other kids and write up the
interview. They've also written about their own
basketball/baseball/sport team. We've even tried our hand at horoscopes
with a local flair. We took pictures of the kids we interviewed and
included them too. If you've got a scanner, they'll turn out a lot
better than ours did! (we just copied the black and whites so the
shading wasn't the best). Because my kids got such a kick out of it,
they all signed their names on one page and it became something of a
keepsake for them.


Back to Activities That Work Table of Contents


Return to  [FLTEACH Main Page]


W3 page maintained by address & address
Copyright © 1998 Jean W. LeLoup & Robert Ponterio