by | Feb 15, 2018

Today in class I came up with a fun way to take a break from the regular routine, and review some high frequency words on the spur of the moment.  This lead to  me thinking that it was time to do a blog post because I’ve hit on a few ‘instant hits’ lately with the students, and want to share.

Idea # 1 – For You/ For Me

This game is inspired by the slightly more ‘aggressive’ hand slapping game I played as a kid.  In the kinder and gentler adaptation of the game two players stand across from each other.  One player holds out their hands to the other player (my students pretend there is invisible chocolate in there hands).  The player holding out the ‘chocolate’ (we can call him Kevin) says in the target language “for you” to their friend (we can call the friend Bob).  Bob tries to grab the imaginary chocolate.  When Bob reaches for the chocolate Kevin yanks his hands back quickly and says in the target language (for me). If Bob does not touch Kevin’s hands before he takes them back.  Play continues and Kevin says ‘for you’ again in the target language (para ti/para mí).  If Bob touches Kevin’s hands (and the invisible chocolate) before Kevin takes his hands back, they switch roles.  Now Bob offers the invisible chocolate and Kevin tries to grab it.

My students LOVE this game and it is so quick that it is good for when there is a technology problem or I have to answer the phone. I knew ‘Para mí/ Para ti”  was a hit when teaching it for the first time to a new rotation of students (so I had taught this game to other 3rd grade classes, but not this particular class).  When I started to teach the game, one of the students called out, “Oh…so that’s what everyone was playing in the bus line.”  Hooray for Spanish!
Even better, they have acquired the language.  “For You/For Me” in class has allowed me to jokingly say “for me” when I see students with treats or trading cards in the hall.  They always yank them back and say “for me” in the target language when I do.  The other day I walked by students in the hall carrying a plate of cookies.  All of them yelled out “¿Para mí?”   Joking with students in Spanish is music “para mí” any day. 🙂
On a side note I’ve played this game with K-3.  


Idea # 2- 2 Minute MINI story

My students seemed like they needed a break, and looking at the ‘Super 7‘*  verbs I had written on my classroom door I had an idea.  I decided to make up a ‘2 minute story’ about a student in the class.  The student LOVED being the center of attention, the other students filled in the missing parts of the story by calling out an answer and were VERY interested/engaged, and the star student acted it out.  It was silly, it was high frequency word use, and it showed me how comfortable the students were with each of the verb forms.  It may seem simple and obvious (and I’m sure it’s been done before), but it was new for me, and I wanted to share the idea:
On my classroom door I have the Super 7 verbs (and a few forms) written in the following order (the order typed in the blog, not the order in the picture, the door has been updated since I took the picture)
Hay (There is/there are)
Es (he/she is)
está (he/she is)
tiene (he/she has)
quiere (he/she wants)
va (he/she goes) and…
le gusta (he/she likes)

The story was simple, and the activity is not that different from asking a story in TPRS.  The difference was we didn’t circle, it was quick and completely focused on a student, and the students quickly called out the ends to the sentences and we just went with the one that seemed the most interesting.   The whole process took only 2 minutes and everyone was extremely engaged:
There is a girl.
The girl is “Beth”.
Beth is smart and funny.
Beth is in Grand Rapids.
Beth is mad.
Beth has chocolate.  Beth does not want chocolate.  Beth wants a hamburger.
Beth goes to Burger King.  Burger King does not have hamburgers.  Burger King has chocolate.  Beth goes to Godiva.  Godiva has hamburgers.  Beth goes home.  Beth is happy.

Not that different from traditional TPRS, but the pace, and the focus on a particular student seemed to lead to very high levels of interest. 🙂

*The Super 7 are frequent use verb forms.  To read more about them click on the link above.

Idea # 3- ¿Are you a….? 

The actual game can be done in 5 minutes or less; however the movie talk I used to introduce the game was too fun not to share!
The movie talk opens with two men sitting across the table eating dinner. One of them asks, “Do you want to see how animals eat their food?” to the other. The video then proceeds to show the first man demonstrating how various animals eat their food. It may not sound like comedic gold, but it is quite funny. I pause it as it hits each screen, when students can read the name of the animal, but haven’t seen the action yet.
I point at the first person (that is eating like a person) and ask:
“Is he a boy or is he a lizard?” in the target language.
The students say back “He is a boy.”.
Then I point at the man pretending to eat like a lizard and ask, “Is he a boy, or is he a lizard?” (or whatever animal he is pretending to be)
The students say back “He is a lizard” or whatever is the correct answer.
Then we watch the action. We pause and talk about it and laugh. 

While we are watching two student actors are sitting at the front of the room with a bean bag between them for a ‘table’ (and plastic cups and plates). After we watch each scene in the youtube video, we pause and act it out with the students. NOW I get a chance to ask the student actors:
“Are you a boy or are you a lizard?”
student “I am a boy”
“Are you a boy or are you a lizard”
“I am a lizard”.
Then, only moving as I say, the student actors act out the scene. This was TONS of great reps and great laughs with my students every time I did it.
The Game
For the game, students sit in a circle. One student walks into the middle of the circle and pretends to be an animal (the movie talk will really inspire them). The other students can guess in the TL by saying “Are you a…”. The student answers with “I am a …..” or “I am not a ……”
For example:
The student in the middle is acting like a dinosaur (stomping around, waving their tiny arms, roaring, etc).
A student raises their hand and asks
“Are you an elephant?” (¿Eres un elefante?)
The actor replies
“I am not an elephant.” (No, no soy un elefante.)
Another student asks
“Are you a dinosaur?”
The actor replies
“Yes, I am a dinosaur” (Sí, soy un dinosaurio).

The student that guesses correctly either gets to go next, or gets to pick the next volunteer. In elementary most everyone wants a turn. You could replace animals with other things to (movies, books, weather, famous people, etc).


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