Spanish Games for Class You Need To Know About in 2019

Spanish Games for Class You Need To Know About in 2019

Inside: A library of top Spanish games for class, that are fun AND provide quality comprehensible input. 

Most of us know by now that games are essential for every language classroom. We get it: games get our students moving, make class fun, promote higher engagement, and create those happy vibes we all want, as teachers. 

And don’t believe for one minute that games are “fluff” or a distraction from learning: they can be as integral as stories and music in the language classroom!

“Scientists have recently determined that it takes approximately 400 repetitions to create a new synapse in the brain—unless it is done with play, in which case, it takes between 10 and 20 repetitions!”—Dr. Karyn Purvis, Texas Christian Univeristy

I already have a big collection of Spanish learning games, but today I’m pulling together a general library that focuses on input-heavy games. When we’re teaching to proficiency, through comprehensible input, we always want to maximize our class time and provide lots of input.

This giant collection features some of my favorite Spanish class games over the years, and what games are hot right now in the proficiency-based world. I’ve gathered as many videos as I could find for those of you who love to see ideas in action. 

IMPORTANT: I decided to keep the explanations of each game very brief, and link to videos or more detailed explanations. If a game interests you, you can quickly learn more without getting bogged down in long explanations as you scroll. 

 

Input-Heavy Games for Spanish Class

 

If I’m missing some must-use games, videos, or demos, please pass them along and let me know about them in the comments. I do my best to credit games where I can, but most of these have been recycled and reinvented so many times over the years it’s difficult to know. Always give me a heads up if a correction is needed!

 

 

Listening Spanish Games

 

We’ll start off with generic listening games that work for any level (novice – advanced), with any topic. Keep a few of these in your back pocket, and you’ll always be ready for an extra five minutes or surprise observation. The games here depend mainly on input from the teacher, so you adapt the language to what each class understands. 

Don’t forget these oldies but goodies:

  • Bingo
  • Telephone
  • Simon Says

And here are some that require some explanation:

1. Word Chunk Game

Invented by Tina Hardgaden and Ben Slavic, this can be year-long competition between teams. Briefly:

  • Divide students into groups of three. Each group chooses a gesture. 
  • Teacher says a word chunk or full sentence. 
  • Group decides what it means, raise hands, and cannot discuss further.
  • Teacher calls on first group, who does their gesture in unison. 
  • First group gets a chance to translate chunk and must answer in unison. Points are awarded for correct answers. 

Or, pair the game with trashketball and get more details at Totally Comprehensible Latin

Cyber Profe explains how her classes play. 

Tina Hardgaden explain how to play the word chunk game to her class. 

2. ¿Qué es?/ ¿Quién es?

I’ve seen many different twists on this, but here’s my version:

  • Students brainstorm and write down terms on pieces of paper (people, places, things, characters, etc) OR create your own cards. Stick to proper names or terms in English with lower levels.
  • Teacher describes the term on the card without saying the actual name. 
  • First student to correctly guess the term gets the card. 
  • Student with the most cards wins. 

You can add parameters such as giving a signal before allowing guesses to begin.

Señora Chase demos her version, The ¿Cómo se dice? game

Dreaming Spanish demos with guessing animals through descriptions.

Here’s another way to play if you need to review vocabulary in Spanish.

3. Change Seats If…

This one is fun and doubles as a good brain break if you have the space.

 

  • Students sit in a circle. 
  • Teacher calls out “switch seats if…,” followed by something relevant to her class (if you’re wearing white socks, if your birthday is in June), in the TL.
  • Students for whom the “if” applies must get up and find a new seat. 
  • You can leave it competitive, or have one less chair than people. The last person will be left without a seat– you can have them do something in the TL (count 1-10, etc.) or do something funny.

Quick and easy demo.

See how Señora Chase does this, with rich input throughout the game.

4. El Marcador

I like this one for small groups. Sometimes it can be hard to come up with good games that only require 2-4 players! This is a quick review that works for any topic.

  • Put students in pairs, across from each other, with a marker in the middle. 
  • State something– true or false. 
  • If it’s false, students should leave the marker alone. (If they touch it: -1 point.)
  • If it’s true, first student to grab the marker gets 1 point. 

 

Pro tip: make sure your students are sitting in such as way that they don’t bump heads when grabbing the marker! Here’s how Mis Clases Locas plays

5. Pop-Up

This quick quiz game is from Señora Chase and genius because it gets everybody listening closely. See her post for all the helpful details if you want to know more. 

  • Number the students so everyone has a pair (1-1, 2-2, 3-3, etc.). (Pair similar-leveled students if possible.)
  • Line students up across from each other. 
  • Ask a question or state something in the TL. Then call a number. 
  • The first student to answer or translate correctly gets a point.

 

Señora Chase demos the Pop-Up! game. 

6. Slap-It

Also known as flyswatter when using images on the board, I prefer to play Slap-It with picture cards, as every student is engaged.  

  • Put students in pairs or groups (2-4 is best). 
  • Give each group the same set of picture cards, face-up on the table.  
  • Call out the word, or say a sentence that describes it/uses it. 
  • First student to slap the card gets to keep it.
  • At the end, students with the most cards in each group wins. 

 

7. The Reading Game

Another genius game from Señora Chase, this one gets students reading texts several times.

  • Put students in small groups and give them a text to read. 
  • The group should work together to make sure everyone understand the whole text. 
  • Students take turns being the representative for their group, going to the front, and answering questions about the text. 
  • Students who answer correctly get to draw a card for random points, which keeps the game interesting and competitive to the end. 
  • Group with the most points wins. 

 

Be sure to check out the full details on The Lucky Reading Game, where Señora Chase has slides to assign points for the deck of cards. 

 

Collaborative Writing Games

 

These Spanish games for class require some writing from the students, which is used throughout the game and read by other students. Scaffold as needed by giving prompts, outlines, or even letting students copy phrases from texts you’re using in class. With more advanced students, you can give them more creative freedom!

Most of these games are low-prep or no-prep, perfect for those days when you’re not feeling well. They also work well when your administration or parents are looking for more output and collaboration between students. 

8. Two Truths and A Lie

You’ve probably played this popular game in English, but it’s a great one for Spanish class too!

  • Model first, by writing down two true things and one false thing. Let the class guess which one is false. 
  • Have the students write their own sentences (and make an answer key). 
  • Gather the students’ writing, read aloud, and the class guesses the answers. 
  • You can declare a winner by whomever’s sentences stumped the class the most.

 

Sarah Breckley has a great version here, that involves more interpersonal communication and a super-creative point system.

 

9. Draw, Write, Pass

This is another fun party game than translates perfectly to the language classroom. 

 

  • Put students in groups of 4-6.
  • Students make up or copy a sentence on the top of a paper. Then, directly below it, they illustrate their sentence.
  • Students fold the paper so only the drawing is visible. Pass papers to the right. 
  • Students look at the drawing, and write a sentence that describes it. Pass papers again. 
  • Students read, and do their best to draw what they read. 
  • Repeat until everyone has their original papers back. I usually have the groups vote on funniest evolution and most accurate beginning-to-end progression. 

It sounds hard to understand, but if you watch the video it’s really simple! Think the game telephone, except through writing and drawing.

 

10. Memory

Memory is a great quiet game that works with any age. If you are working with high school students, here’s a way to take it up a notch with richer language. And for the teacher, it’s no-prep!

  • Put students in groups of 4-6 and pass out paper squares.
  • Students create matching cards. These could be questions and answers, Spanish and English translations, or sentences and illustrations. (You set the parameters: students should copy text from a novel or story, use info from a certain lesson, etc.)
  • Students check cards with teacher when ready. Early finishers do extra cards. 
  • Then let them play in groups! The activity should be self-monitoring since the students themselves made the cards.

Señora Chase has a way to play this whole-class you might want to check out!

 

Collaborative Speaking Games

 

These games require some speaking from the students, or create a context for more interpersonal communication. When we are ready for students to produce output, Spanish games for class are a wonderful way to do that.

Although there are lots of games that require students to speak (i.e., get up, find a partner, speak for two minutes, switch), they can sometimes feel artificial. My favorites are activities that naturally require communication in order to advance or win. These games are a more natural context to communicate and negotiate meaning.

 

11. Mafia

Mafia is the darling of the CI community right now, and for good reason: it’s SO engaging. It can last an entire period, so it’s perfect for those days when you have an odd day before spring break, or when half the class is out sick. The only catch? It takes a while to understand and explain. I’ll describe it briefly, but checking out the attached videos and links should help you get this one. 

  • Play whole class. You are the director of this role-playing game. 
  • The gist: the mafia is trying to eliminate all the citizens, especially the police. The police want to save the town. The citizens want to survive and eliminate the mafia. 
  • Tell the class to “sleep” and secretly assign roles to the class: mafia members, citizens, police, doctor. (See Martina Bex’s printable for this and to understand the role of police and doctor.)
  • Class sleeps, the mafia choose their first victim to eliminate. That student is out. 
  • Tell the class to wake up. Make up an entertaining/interesting narrative about the poor victim’s demise. 
  • This is where it gets fun: after each “murder,” you allow a few accusations. If a student accuses another students as being mafia, they must state why. The accused get the chance to defend themselves. Everyone still in the game votes on who they think is mafia, and the person with the most votes is out. 
  • Class sleeps again, the mafia eliminates another player, and another round of accusations/defenses begins. 
  • Game is over when all Mafia has been eliminated OR all citizens/police/dr. have been eliminated. 

Whew. There’s more nuance than I included, but hopefully you get the idea. My students LOVE THIS GAME, and there are endless twists.

Good Mafia explanation from an ESL context. 

Setting up Unicornio Malo for the first time, with La Maestra Loca.

Setting up Mafia with La Maestra Loca. 

Full game of Mafia, with a small group. 

12. 20 Questions

This game is a nice way to let the students communicate with questions. The teacher can facilitate and re-state as needed to make sure students are getting quality input. 

  • Choose one student to sit in front of the class and choose a person/thing/animal, whatever you allow.
  • The class asks yes or no question to guess the answer. 
  • More than 20 questions- student wins, class guess in less than 20- class wins. 

You can switch this up by taping a famous character or person onto students’ back and they have to walk around asking each other questions, to figure out who they are. 

Alternatively, you could let the students tape something onto your back (maybe pick a trusted student to be the appropriateness judge), and you ask the class yes or no questions to figure it out. 

Dreaming Spanish demos a guess-the-character game.

Señora Chase shows us 20 Questions in a whole-class setting.

13. Guess Who?

Guess Who is really similar to 20 Questions, except played with a board. If you make your own board, you can put anything on it- people, objects, animals, etc. 

  • Put students in partners, each with matching boards. 
  • Each player secretly chooses one image/square. 
  • Players take turns asking yes or no questions, to eliminate possible squares. 
  • First player to correctly guess the opponents’ selection wins. 

 

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14. Charades

Charades doesn’t involved much speaking, but it is lower on the input-scale and students have to speak to answer. Charades is especially good to use if you do a lot of TPR, and have lots of motions the kids all recognize. There are LOTS of version!

  • Divide the class in 2 or 3 teams and prep pieces of paper with words or phrases. 
  • Bring a representative from each team to the front.
  • Each team takes a turn guess terms. Give the representative 30 seconds, for example, to pick papers and act out as many terms as possible.
  • When the team guesses correctly, he/she picks another paper. Each paper counts as a point. 
  • The next team gets a turn.

You can reverse this by having the teams act the phrases out, and the representative must guess. Another option is to have one actor all the teams watch, and the first team to write the answer on a whiteboard and show it gets a point. 

See how Sarah Breckley plays reverse charades. 

Up the target language with a combo of taboo and charades!

15. Mano Nerviosa

It’s common for students to be able to mindlessly chant lower numbers, but not recognize them out of context. Fix that with Mano Nerviosa! Is this game input-heavy? Not exactly, but it is very fun and effective. 

  • Put students in groups of 3-6 and give decks of cards.
  • Students begin laying down cards in the center, in a circle. They recite numbers 1-14, one-by-one.
  • If the number said matches the number laid, the first person to slap the cards in the center gets them all.

 

See the video to understand the game in a snap, or to show your students how to play.

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Cultural Brain Breaks for Spanish Class

Cultural Brain Breaks for Spanish Class

Inside: Cultural brain breaks for Spanish class, perfect for kids in elementary classes. 

Today I’m welcoming Carolina Gómez, an elementary Spanish teacher from Colombia. She is the blogger behind Fun for Spanish Teachers, a space where she shares teaching tips and resources. She loves spending time with her family and two dogs.  In this post she shares three Brain Breaks to use right away with your students!

(Looking for older student and more game ideas? See brain breaks to use with high school Spanish classes or a big list of Spanish learning games!)

 

Three Cultural Brain Breaks for Spanish Class

 

Brain breaks are quick activities meant to re-energize or focus the class, and they last no longer than 5 minutes. I like using Brain Breaks that are low prep and engage the whole group. I teach elementary school, and brain breaks come in handy usually with my afternoon classes or when I see the class is low in energy and children seem sluggish or less likely to engage in class.

Here are three cultural brain breaks for Spanish class I have used successfully, and are definitely student approved!

 

energizers for Spanish class

 

Pares y nones

 

This is based on a traditional Latin American game. Assign a student to call out the numbers.  Students make a circle and sing a simple chant that goes like this:

A pares  y nones  To even and odd numbers

vamos a jugar,         we will play.

El que quedo solo, The one who ends up alone,

solo quedará. alone will stay.

When the group is done chanting, the  designated student will call a number and everyone else has to make groups according to the number. I usually suggest they call numbers lower than eight, but it all depends on the size of the group. The students who are left without a group will be out of the game. Continue playing the game until the group is down to two people standing up.

 

Tierra y mar

 

This is a great game to practice left and right in Spanish. The class makes a line. Anytime you or a designated student says “tierra” o “mar” the students in the line must jump. Let’s say you’ve assigned tierra on the left and mar on the right. The students in the line will have to jump to the correct side. The students who jump on the wrong side will be out of the game.

 

El director de la orquesta

 

The orchestra conductor, a game that can also be played under the name “el líder,” is a fun game where everyone participates. The class makes a circle. One student leaves the room. While the student is out of the room, another student gets appointed to be conductor of the orchestra. The conductor is in charge of making movements or sounds that the other students will imitate. The student who has left the room is called back in, and his/her task is to figure out who the conductor is. They normally get three turns (but you can modify the number) to guess who is “conducting” the class. Once the student finds the conductor, choose a new student to leave the room as well as a new conductor. You and the class can decide when to end the game.

Ready to try these brain breaks for Spanish class next time you see your students? I promise your class will have a lot of fun!

Check out Carolina’s posts on energizers, chants, and breaks for even more ideas!

 

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Fun Spanish Games for Kids (Preschool & Early Elementary)

Fun Spanish Games for Kids (Preschool & Early Elementary)

Inside: Fun Spanish games for kids (preschool and elementary), to learn Spanish. 

 

I have a ton of Spanish learning games I’ve collected over the years. But I’ve been missing a list just for younger kids! 

Here are games that are easy to explain, not-too-competitive, and require more listening than speaking. These are best for preschool and early elementary, before drawing and writing skills are ready to go. 

Little learners have tiny attention spans. In my experience, they’re even shorter in a foreign language class. So keep it moving along, and end the game if the interest is waning.  Anytime you are working with young kids, I recommend lots of songs, puppets, and movements. If you are looking for preschool, you may want to see my Spanish preschool series

 

Fun Spanish Games for Kids

 

1. Musical Cards

 

This one is similar to musical chairs, and requires a set of cards with images of the target vocabulary. 

If you are studying numbers, for example, hand out number cards to all of the students. (It’s okay if several students have the same number.) Turn on music and allow them to move around. When the music stops, call out a number. Whoever has that number sits down, and play continues until one student (or one number) is left!

(I saw this game discussed in the Facebook Group Teaching Spanish to Children, run by Munde de Pepita. Definitely join if you haven’t already!)

 

2. Where is the button?

 

Again, prep a set of picture cards. (Credit to Susan O’Donnell Bondy for the idea!)

Have the students sit in a circle, and spread the cards out, face up, in the middle of the circle. Tell the students close their eyes, and hide a cut-out of a button (or whatever object you choose) under a card. The students take turns guessing which card it’s under. This sounds like an output-heavy activity (the students have to say the word), but you can provide a ton of input here: A ver, ¿está debajo del queso? ¡No, no está debajo del queso! ¿Dónde está? Or, if someone says el pollo, point to the zanahoria  and ask, ¿Éste? ¡Ay no, no es el pollo!

Susan shared that she has a chant that her students do. In Spanish, it could be something like Boton-cito, boton-cito, ¿dónde está?

 

3. Bingo

 

Bingo is fun for all ages, but doesn’t always work with younger crowds. If your students aren’t able to grasp the concept of 4-in-a-row, simply play to fill the boards, without a winner. They’ll still enjoy playing, and it’s a great listening activity. 

 

4. What’s missing?

 

I’ve played this one for a long time, but I love Julie’s take on this one from Mundo de Pepita. Read her post for a full explanation, but here is the basic explanation of how I play: have a set of objects or pictures in front of the students. Have them close their eyes (or turn away!), and remove one object. They open their eyes, and guess which object is gone. 

You can maximize the language opportunity here by chatting about their guesses. ¿La manzana? ¡Uy, la manzana está aquí! No es la manazana… ¿qué es, clase?

Spanish learning games

 

5. ¿Qué hay en la bolsa?

 

This is another fun guessing game, and best if it’s a real object or toy. I like to call up one student to put their hand in the bag, and feel they object. They can guess what it is, and if the answer isn’t correct another student gets to try guessing. 

For slightly older classes who know some basic like colors, big, small, you could also give them clues about what’s in the bag, and have them take some guesses after each clue. 

 

See these Spanish learning games in action!

Sometimes it helps to just see an activity instead of reading about it. You can check out this FB live I did, where I explain in more detail how to teach a class using these fun Spanish games for kids. 

 

What other fun Spanish games for kids do you like to use? Let me know in the comments below!

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Hey! I’m Elisabeth, a teacher and mom raising two bilingual kids in the Peruvian jungle. Read our story here. I love digging up the best Spanish resources for all you busy parents and teachers!

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Find Your Blob: A Fun Brain Break for Spanish Class

Find Your Blob: A Fun Brain Break for Spanish Class

Inside: A fun brain break in Spanish for the language classroom.

I’m working hard this year to make sure I break up our classes with some sort of movement. I came up with Find Your Blob for something that’s quick and ties into the lesson. The students are speaking the TL, but because it’s related to their opinions and preferences, they get into it. (It’s also LOW-PRESSURE. I don’t consider it a brain break if an activity creates anxiety for the participants!)

How to Do “Find Your Blob”

The idea is simple: Come up with a question related to the content you’re working on. ¿Qué te gusta hacer?, for example.

Then, list or brainstorm 4-6 answers (depends on your class size). Me gusta: correr, dormir, leer, viajar, etc. The students silently pick their answer. 

When I say so, everyone stands up and walks around asking the question. If the answers match, those students stick together. Then those two look for more people. Everyone with the same answer has to be in the same blob (or group of people), until the whole room is sorted into four blobs.

That’s it! I like to erase the two most popular answers, and replace them, so everyone has to mix it up again. Most everyone in Spanish 1 this morning, for example, chose cansado in response to ¿Cómo estás? So we erased that, and added in more creative options. Once they get the hang of it, you can add in things like ¡Yo también! or ¡A mí también! 

If the groups are interesting (perhaps one person is alone, or one group is huge), it can make for some fun conversation and helps you get to know your students. I ask what the groups represent, which could bring in ¿Qué les gusta hacer?, and then Nos gusta… I’ve really liked this because the language is organic and memorable. Sometimes we do two or three rounds of responses, and then sit down, ready to work again.

You can do this with anything– any tense, any topic. Some more ideas:

If you could be any _________, what would you be?
If you could have a superpower, what would it be?
What would you like to do this weekend?
What’s your favorite _______?
You’re going on vacation. Where are you going?
Which book would you like to live in?
If you had to wear one outfit the rest of your life, what would it be?

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Find You Blob, a Fun Speaking Activity for the World Language Classroom

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10 Awesome Icebreakers for High School Spanish Classrooms

10 Awesome Icebreakers for High School Spanish Classrooms

Inside: Icebreakers for high school and middle school Spanish classrooms.

 

As a semi-introvert, most icebreakers terrify me– all the ones that make you remember everyone else’s name, think of a clever adjective for yourself, or THE WORST KIND: make up a dance move. I’m not sure super-confident people can really comprehend what that situation can feel like.

 

via GIPHY

(This is me. ^^)

Icebreakers can be tricky in the World Language Classroom. They reflect the tension we feel most days: how can we stay in the target language, connect with our students, communicate effectively, and make the whole process enjoyable? No wonder we’re tired! In those first days, I do think it’s important to establish a couple of things:

 

  • We speak in the TL as much as possible. This isn’t a class about Spanish; it’s a class mostly in Spanish.
  • I care about you. You’re safe here: safe to try new things and make mistakes.
  • My job is to make sure Spanish is comprehensible, and yours is to pay attention and stay with me.

 

To see a comprehensive list of games, check out my page on Spanish learning games

 

Icebreakers for High School Spanish Classes

 

I really think it’s important to do low-pressure icebreakers those first days, especially if you’re trying to do so in another language. Games that build community, look for things in common, and ease everyone into the target language can be a great way to start. Hopefully these will help!

 

1. The Glob Game

 

This is a low-pressure get-to-know-you game. Call out (perhaps show) a term like “eyes,” “number of siblings,” or “favorite subject” and the students with the same answer stand in a group. If two “globs” form over the same things, they should join. If students are upper-level, use words they know in the target language (TL). If they are new, use pictures to make it comprehensible.

This is good for getting to know each other and finding out things in common. (From Cult of Pedagogy)

 

2. The Cognates Game I

 

Mark one side of the room as “I like” and the other as “I don’t like” (in the TL if desired). Call out cognates (like “chocolate” and “animales” for English-Spanish) and student stand on the side of the spectrum that shows how they feel about it.

Alternatively, put a line down the middle of the room. Students stand on the side that matches their opinion/answer.

This game, of course, only works for languages that have cognates. It’s a good way to show students they can understand many words right away, even when they are brand-new to the language.

high school spanish games

 

3. Strip Bingo

 

This one is more innocuous than it sounds! If you are planning to start off with an “About Me” presentation, or an intro to the syllabus or procedures, spice it up a little by with this one. Choose about 5-7 key words from your presentation, words that will be repeated frequently. Write those words on the board, and tell students to write them down in a horizontal row on a piece of paper, but in a random order. As you give your presentation, tell students they may tear off the key words as they hear them, but ONLY if the word is on the outer edge. If the word if blocked by a word to the left or the right, it can’t get torn off. The first student to tear off all the words gets a prize. (From from Martina Bex at the Comprehensible Classroom.

 

4. Games with Music in the TL

 

These don’t require speaking– they’re just for fun. Ending the first day of class with games played to really good music in the TL just makes everyone feel good about class, and leave with a good feeling about the language! (Grab some songs in Spanish from my music page.)

  • El Hueco: This one was a favorite dinámica back in Peru, and requires no speaking.  Arrange chairs in a circle, and everyone sits down. Make sure there is one extra chair, so it will be empty. Start the music. That chair will have two people on each side. When the music starts, they grab hands (optional) and run to get someone to sit in the empty chair.

    Of course, when those three sit down, two new people will have an empty chair between them. The point is to never be sitting next to the empty chair, so they then run and grab a person to sit between them. 

    When the music stops, whichever two people have an empty chair between them are either out or get a “punishment.” In Peru, the castigos were pretty embarrassing; I’d suggest something light like high-five the teacher or count  to 10.

  • Musical Chairs

  • Islands: Set out several newspapers around the room. This is similar to musical chairs, except that when the music stops, everyone tries to stand on the newspaper. Each time, the newspaper gets folded in half, and whoever isn’t touching the paper is out. There will be as many winners as there are newspapers. Obviously, this is more physical, so use your discretion!

 

5. The Cognates Game II

 

This is another version of the cognate game. Use my PPT bracket outline to project onto the board, and list cognates on each side (extreme right and extreme left). Do a tournament to see which cognate beats all the other ones. Start on the outside, and have students vote for the top or bottom choice by going to the left or right side of the room. This game is fun because you can introduce cognates and get to know one another as well.

2

 

If desired, use the TL and make it comprehensible with pictures, so that you can have more useful terms for finding out student preferences (hobbies and pastimes, for example). If you are calling out the terms in the TL and pointing to them, you can stay in the TL the entire time, and they will understand you. This is either great review for returning classes, or a good way to show new students they can understand the new language, even on the first day.

If you have more advanced classes, you might choose a category like “things done over the summer.” Let students share what they did, and vote on favorite activities. For a more ironic group of students, you could have them compete for most boring summer activities, the worst part of summer vacation (and trick them into remembering what’s good about the school year). 

For Returning Classes that know each other:

 

6. Human Bingo

 

Prepare a board that has questions your students know from previous years. Remember to keep them simple, and include picture clues if necessary. The students must go around the room asking questions to their peers. (Do you have a cat? Is your birthday in September? Are you a new student?) If someone answers yes, they write their initials down in that spot. Whoever gets Bingo first wins.

 

7. If You Were on a Deserted Island…

 

Give this classic question a language twist by telling students to think of three things they’d bring to a deserted island– but only using words they remember from the year before in the TL. Everyone writes down three things, and you collect the cards. Have everyone guess who wrote which card.

 

8. Two Truths and a Lie

 

Students write two truths and lie about themselves in the TL, on a note card. They write their name at the top, and give them all to you. If their language isn’t perfect, you can correct errors and make the sentences comprehensible as you read them out loud. Don’t say the name, but let the class first guess who wrote the sentences. Once everyone understands them all, and knows who it is, have the students guess which sentence is a lie.

 

9. The Salad Game

 

Write celebrity names or any terms on slip of paper. Students sit in a circle. Divide the class into 2 or more teams by counting 1-2. For each team’s turn, set a time (1-2 minutes).

1st round (verbal clues): The first team begins. One students draws a slip of paper, and describes the person or word to his or her team without saying the actual name. As soon as the team guesses, the next team member draws another slip and play continues until the timer goes off. Then the other team gets a turn. Once all the slips are used up, tally the points for each team.

2nd round (one-word clues): This round is the same as the second, except that the students must only use one word to get their team to guess the celebrity or word.

3rd round (actions): Similar to the first and second round, except that only gestures may be used as clues.

This game would work to explain circumlocution, and also to talk about proficiency levels. You can discuss how being a “novice” might mean only being able to communicate in isolated words or phrases (and/or gestures), and moving up in proficiency will mean putting words together and then communicating through more complicated sentences.

 

Games in English: 

 

10. The Circumlocution Game

 

Ok, this is basically Taboo. Prepare slips of paper with words on them, and divide the class into two groups. Set a timer (1-2 minutes). One student draws a slip of paper, and tries to get his/her team to guess the term without saying the word itself. After the word is guessed, the next team member draws a word, and so on until the timer goes off. Count the slips up and give those points to the team.

Use this game to talk about circumlocution, talking “around” a word you don’t know in to avoid resorting to English. Establishing an expectation of circumlocution is a big part of staying at least 90% in the target language.

 

 

 

What are your favorite icebreakers for high school and middle school? Let me know in the comments below. 

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Icebreakers in Spanish Class

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10 Interactive End-of-the-Year Games for the Spanish Classroom

10 Interactive End-of-the-Year Games for the Spanish Classroom

Inside: End of the year games for Spanish class.

 

The end of the year can be… interesting, right? Everyone is tired, you have run out of ideas, testing has already been done, and summer is on everyone’s mind. Here are some ideas that work with ANY unit or theme and put all the summer energy to constructive use. 

(And check out my Spanish learning games page for even more ideas!)

End of the Year Games in Spanish

 

1. The Marker Game 

 

Divide the class into two groups, and assign numbers to each group (so you’ll have two 1’s, two 2’s, etc.) Have paired numbers sit across from each other, with a marker or object in between.

Option 1: Tell the students to do something– touch their own eyes, sing, say hello, etc. Then randomly say “Agarra el marcador!” and the pairs race to grab the marker (or soft object) first. 

Option 2: Call out true/false statements. True statement, students race to grab the marker, and false statements they don’t touch it. See the video below to understand how to play and keep score!

 

2. 20 Preguntas 

 

Play Veinte Preguntas to review people, places, and words from the series. (Give the students some basic structures and phrases if necessary: ¿Es una persona? ¿Es un lugar? ¿Es una cosa?)

 

3. Bracket Activity

 

Do a bracket tournament and vote on any topic. It could be food, songs you learned this year, etc. Use my March Madness bracket PPT here to project a bracket on the board and list the items. Designate one wall for the upper choice and one for the lower choice. Call out “¿Agua con gas, o café?” for example, and the students vote by moving to one side of the room or the other.

 

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Or make it beautiful like this one!

 

 

4. Serpiente 

 

Divide the class into two groups. Write a word on the board, and draw a slash after it. The first team has to write a word that starts with the last letter written, then draw a slash. The second team writes word starting with the last letter of that word, and so on. No words may be repeated, and you can adjust the rules for what words are allowed (ie, they must contain at least 3 letters).

 

5. Teléfono escrito / Draw, Write Pass

 

This is like the game Telephone, except with drawings and written words. You can review anything, and it’s a zero prep activity. 

 

 

6. Manzanas a Manzanas

 

This game is awesome for practicing opinions and adjectives. I have a free download with instructions to play, or you can make your own cards. To play, you will need adjective cards and noun cards. For the noun cards, use whatever vocabulary you want to review.

Put the green adjective cards in the middle, face down. Deal 5-7 red noun cards to each player. Designate a “judge” or juez for the first round. The judge turns the first green card over, and the players put the card they think the judge will pick to match the adjective in the middle. The judge mixes the cards, turns them over, and picks his or her favorite. Whoever that card belongs to keeps the green card as the first point. The leftover red cards can be recycled into the red card pile. The play continues in a circle, with the players taking turns judging.

Model for your class how judges would talk about the cards they are evaluating. For example: La manzana es pequeña. El elefante no es pequeño. or, if it’s something plural: Las manzanas son pequeñas. Los elefantes no son pequeños.

 

¡Manzanas a Manzanas! (2)

 

7. Celebrities

 

This one is FUN when you have a year’s worth of inside jokes and references as a class. Students sit in a circle and write phrases on slip of paper. Divide the class into 2 or more teams by counting 1-2. For each team’s turn, set a timer (1-2 minutes).

1st round (actions): Team 1 begins as a player draws a slip. That student acts out the phrase. When the team guesses correctly, the next player on Team 1 draws another slip and the play continues until the time is up. The timer is set again for the other team, and turns continue until all the slips are gone. Count the slips and give those points to their teams.

2nd round (verbal clues): This round is the same as the first, except that the students must use clues in Spanish. If the slip says va a la casafor example, the students could say cuatro palabras, es como camina, corre o advanca, donde vivo, etc. This will be very difficult for beginners, so you may want to let students make word webs for the phrases before playing, to brainstorm and think of related words and synonyms. This is great practice for circumlocution.

3rd round (one-word clues): This round is the same as the second, except that the students must only use one word. If the phrase is va a la casathe student could say vivoand the team has to guess the phrase from this one clue.

*In the original game, the actions are for the third round and that’s supposed to be the hardest round. For students learning another language, that is probably the easiest, so I made it first.

 

8. Categorías

 

Choose a letter of alphabet. Set a time limit (probably 2 minutes) . Everyone should think of a word that begins with that letter for each category. The trick is to try to think of creative words, because at the end of the time limit the students take turns reading their answers out loud. If anyone else has that word, it gets crossed out for everyone.

Example: The letter is M.  la comida: manzana, la ropa: medias, en la escuela: mapa, los adjetivos: malo, los verbos:  mirar

The first student reads his or her words. Other students have also written malo and manzana, so those words are crossed out. Three words are left: the student got 3 points that round. It is best to arrange students in small groups of 3-4, and have them compare answers at the end of each round.

Get free game sheets for Categorías here!

 

categorías (6)

 

9. ¿Quién es?

 

Choose an object (anything small). Choose one student to be it, and have them go out to the hall. Give the item to one of the students. “It” comes in, and asks yes/no questions to find out who has the item. (It may help to have everyone stand up and sit when they are ruled out. For example, it says: Es un chico? It’s not, so all the chicos sit down.) The competition can come from seeing who can guess in the fewest number of guesses.

 

10. Mafia

 

My students absolutely love this, and it’s probably my favorite end of the year game (though it works anytime!). Martina Bex has a free printable and good explanation. It includes everything we want: comprehensible input, interpersonal communication, and listening. The printable includes detailed instructions, but here’s the gist: this is a role-playing game, in which certain students are assigned to be the Mafia, other as citizens, and some as doctors and police. The mafia is trying to eliminate the entire “town” before the citizens discover them and vote them out of the game.

You have to check out Martina’s post! It’s a perfect way to end the year and let the students loose with everything they have learned.

 

 

If you have a few weeks that need some fresh content, the BBC’s beginner’s Spanish series Mi Vida Loca is also a great option. Most of the ideas below are gathered from my series on Games and Ideas for Mi Vida Loca. I have free activities from Episodes 1-5 available, and an entire Activity Pack available as well.

 

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End of the Year Games in Spanish Class

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End of the Year Spanish Games

Welcome

Hey! I’m Elisabeth, a teacher and mom raising two bilingual kids in the Peruvian jungle. Read our story here. I love digging up the best Spanish resources for all you busy parents and teachers!

Spanish Mama Newsletter

Books in Spanish for kids

songs in Spanish

movies and shows in spanish

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