Games have the power of teaching through fun. When done right, you can have a while class happily using grammar and vocabulary in context without even realizing they are practicing your targeted items. I always feel a bit like the sneaky chef when playing games in class; I'm introducing spinach (the grammar I want them to practice) by hiding it inside a big, delicious smoothie (that's the game). You can take many of your favorite childhood games and turn them into instant language class activities. Scategories, I spy, 20 questions, and more can be used without having to prepare anything beforehand.
When I was a kid, one of my favorite games was Battleship. I took this basic idea and modified it for the language classroom to develop two new games, Exploradores del Mar and Foto-Safari. In these games, students have a search and find board with different animals they have to find using either sonar waves (Exploradores del Mar) or with their camera (Foto-Safari). Voila! No violence! They use the verbs and subjects provided to search for their opponents animals. In advanced versions (good for middle school and up) they have to conjugate the verb using the small grammar box provided. In simpler versions, the verbs are already conjugated and they can their practice pronunciation.
I find that once they start, students can easily spend fifteen to twenty minutes speaking in pairs without using English. Teach them a few game terms like Me Toca, Te Toca, and off they go! How often can we get our students to speak in the target language for that long? It's hard but this game gives them the structure and scaffolding they need to do it!
If you would like to give it a try, you can get our free version by clicking here.
What are your favorite classroom games?
Thanks and happy teaching!