When I was out on maternity leave 13 years ago, I typed up a description of classroom activities for my substitute. I was looking them over the other day, and thought they might make a useful blog post for changing things up when kids need to get moving or need some socialization. I think most of these were made up by other people, do I am not going to take any credit for them. 🙂
DRY-ERASE GAME: Students are in groups of 3-4 by their seating arrangement. Each group needs a small dry-erase board, marker, and paper towel or clean sock. I draw stairs or a ladder on the board. Each group chooses a magnet from my blue basket of magnets. I give a sentence in English that practices as much vocabulary and grammar from a given unit or lesson as possible. I also like to throw in vocab and grammar from previous units. Students write the translation on their boards. When all are finished, I ask to see the sentences, and then I move the magnets of all correct groups up one stair. I have tried to think of ways to make each student responsible, but the thing that I do now is remind students to take turns writing the sentences. Students like this game. You need about 20 minutes for a good game, so if you have less than that, you can do board races or the translation game.
TRANSLATION GAME: Some students don’t care much for this game, but it is good when there is only 10 minutes left and you don’t want to start another activity. The first person in each row takes out a scrap of paper. You give a sentence in English and each person writes one or two words of the sentence in Spanish on the paper then passes it back. Every person in the row should write at least one word. When the sentence is finished, the row must hold up the paper, not their hands. If they are still writing or bring the paper down to write more, it does not count. The first row to hold up the paper and have the sentence correct gets a point.
BOARD RACES: Either divide the class into teams or use the note cards they filled out on the first day to randomly choose two people to go up to the board. In English, give them something short to write, like a current vocabulary word or grammatical concept, that they have to write in Spanish. Either the first one correct wins a point for the team, or stays up and goes against another student until he/she loses. I don’t do this activity very often because only 2 students are engaged at a time.
TEAM GAMES WITH CARDS: Divide the room into two teams. Pass out the cards with Spanish words on them to the teams. One team usually gets cards with red writing and the other black. Some students may have more than one card, but I don’t let any student have more than two or three. You stand at the back of the room and read a sentence in English. The first group go up to the front of the room and get the correct cards in the correct order gets a point. The kids like this game. It can get loud. I have also done with more sets of cards and students forming smaller groups. They spread the cards on the floor. I use this mostly when word order is different from English, such as with pronouns.
MATAMOSCAS: Put the overhead on the projector and put a transparency of flies with words in Spanish on the overhead. Divide the class into two teams. Call out a word in English and the first person to swat it gets a point for his/her team. If they behave inappropriately with the flyswatters, the game is immediately over. I got this from another teacher; I don’t know who the original author is. Here is my template:
“CIRCLE” GAME: I give each student a piece of scrap paper and have them all write a list of words in the target language randomly in multiple directions. Then they partner up, using one paper at a time (we can play 2 rounds). Each partner needs a different colored writing utensil. The teacher calls out a word in English and the students try to circle the word on their paper before the other person. At the end, they total up the number of circles in their color to see who wins. I have made game pages for the students using pictures, as well, such as this example:
TIC TAC TOE: I usually have the students work in groups of three, with one student having the answer key and playing the winner. The two students who are playing play a normal game of tic-tac-toe except that they must write the correct answer in the square in order to put their X or O. The person with the answer key tells them whether or not they are correct. If they are not correct, they do not get to put an X or O and that square is still available. Here is the template:
GRAB GAME: I have students make sets of flashcards on 3×5 notecards that practice vocabulary or grammar. You should enough cards for kids to work with partners, but you can also have them make enough for each student. The students can use the cards to like flashcards to quiz each other. Then they spread them out between them for a game. I call a word in English and they try to grab it in Spanish before their partner. Then I call in Spanish and they grab the English. They like this game, but it can get loud. I have also made them myself using pictures.
BLIND SEQUENCING: Each group of 3-4 students has an envelope of pictures. Keeping the pictures face down, they are distributed evenly among the group members. Each group member looks at his/her pictures only, and describes each to the group in SPANISH. Once every picture has been described to the group in Spanish, the group decides in which order the pictures should go chronologically, STILL KEEPING THE PICTURES FACE DOWN. Once the order is agreed upon, the pictures are turned face up to see whether or not the order is correct. Pick someone from each group to describe pictures aloud in Spanish.
SHOWDOWN: Students are in groups of 3-4. Each student has a scrap of paper, folded in half. Teacher asks a question and student writes response on paper without showing the other students his/her answer. The teacher says “showdown” and the students compare their answers with their group members. You can have them pick a score keeper and keep track of how many times the entire group gets one correct.
TWINS: Each student gets a card with information on it. Students must question other students about the information on their cards in order to find the person with the exact same information. They may NOT show their cards to others, just ask questions in Spanish. When they find their twin, they sit. It is a fairly quick activity if you only have 3-5 pieces of information on each card. Here is an example for beginning level 1: