I’ve learned there is a magical word that will make pretty much any grammar topic, or math skill, or vocabulary list appealing to students and the word is “game”.
Anytime a teacher utters these four words – “Let’s play a game!” – students stop to pay attention.
Since getting kids to speak is a hard task, why not use fun speaking games to get them to work?
This is the first post in a series of fun speaking games posts, in which I’ll be sharing how to get the most out of some popular games.
Fun Speaking Games Series
1. Time Bomb
Some people call it “hot potato”, but I prefer “time bomb” because I use a timer that sounds like something exploding. However, I have to agree that “bombe à retardement” might not have the same ring to it.
So feel free to call it whatever works best for your classroom. No matter how you call it, I bet your students will enjoy AND they’ll get good practice out of it!
Have students use the focus vocabulary, grammar structure, or even math skills of your choice.
What you need
A timer (I’ve always used my smartphone with a very loud alarm sound), a bean bag (or any other safe “throwable” item), and a list of ideas.
How it works
- Arrange standing students in a circle.
- Tell them you’ll be setting the timer to “explode” in 1-5 minutes. The time will vary according to the number of students and their language proficiency. I’ve never liked to make it super long because it takes a bit away from the fun of it. I’ve always preferred to play it a few times instead of one long time.
- Let them know what the topic is. I’ll share a list of ideas below.
- One student starts by saying something related to the topic while throwing the bean bag to another student, who catches the bean bag and proceeds in the same manner. For example, let’s say you’d like them to practice vocabulary related to spring. They each have to say a word that is connected to the season while throwing the bean bag.
When it ends
The round ends when the “bomb” (timer) goes off. The student holding the bean bag loses. Originally, that student would leave the circle, but I’ve never felt comfortable about it for two reasons: the student feels bad about having to leave, and the student will be missing out on important practice. Instead I suggest you divide the classroom into teams, give all teams the same number of starting points, e.g. 5 points to each team, then have a team lose a point when a member “explodes”.
Rules and variations
- Basic rules: have students say a word related to the topic. They should not repeat words within a round unless there is a limited amount of words to be used, e.g. colors. In those cases, have them not repeat words until all of them have been mentioned once. They should also avoid throwing the bean bag to the same student over and over again.
- Make it easier: have the words listed on the board so students can refer to it if they get stuck for ideas.
- Make it tougher: read specific tips in the next section
What you can practice
- French Vocabulary lists related to a topic: clothing, animals, classroom vocabulary, colors, countries, professions, fruits and vegetables, places in the city, and so on. If you want to make it more challenging, have students say the items in alphabetical order or mix two categories such as clothing AND colors. You can also have a student throw the bean bag while saying a singular word and the student catching the bean bag say the plural of that word before throwing the bean bag again while saying another singular word in the selected category.
- French Grammar: -ER/-IR/-RE verbs, verbs related to a theme (e.g. things you can do at the park, things you can do in the classroom, etc), adjectives to describe (e.g. adjectives to describe a cat, the teacher, etc), antonyms and synonyms. You can use the same structure described in the previous bullet, so student A says a word and throws the bean bag to student B who says the opposite of the word student A used and throws the bean bag, while saying another word, to student C, and so on. That would work best if there were a list of the words to be practice on the board.
- Math: skip-counting by 2s, 5s, 10s, and any other skip-counting variation, counting backwards, saying the names of geometric shapes, mental addition and subtraction (e.g. start with a number and tell students that they should follow a pattern or adding 3, subtract 1, adding 3, etc – you can vary the pattern), and more.
I hope you have enjoyed this idea.
If you know any other fun speaking games, leave me a comment below.
Thank you for reading!