Jazz Up Spanish Class with Some Unusual Games
Ever hear of Madlibs? These otherwise-sensible stories turn into hilariously funny tales when you fill in the blanks with random nouns, adjectives, and verbs. Just write out a couple of paragraphs on the board (do this before class begins) tailored to your students' grammatical ability, and erase at least one verb, noun, or adjective every sentence or two. It's okay to have more than one blank in each sentence if you like, but be sure to leave enough of the original story intact that your students can discern at least some its narrative arc. Number each of the blanks and note underneath the blank whether it should be filled with a noun, adjective, or verb.
Tape a large sheet of paper over the board so that your students can't see what you have written. On the paper, write the number and article of speech that corresponds to each blank. So this might look like:
1. Noun __________
2. Verb __________
3. Verb __________
4. Adjective __________
...and so on. Have your students fill in the blanks with random words (in Spanish of course). Give them a chance to ask questions about any words they don't understand. It's better to explain now than later when half of the class will be laughing themselves silly. For beginning students, you can write the narrative in English but have them fill in the blanks with Spanish words. For intermediate and more advanced students, do everything in Spanish.
Finally, unveil the partially blanked-out passage and fill in the random words your students chose. Then, read through the paragraphs with the new words in place. The result of solemn narrative combined with randomly inserted words makes this one of the most hilarious Spanish classroom games. The humor --and the absurd mental images it conjures up-- will help your students remember what they've learned.
Have a Rhyming Race
This Spanish classroom game is very easy, so it's good for beginner students. Think of it as "King of the Hill," the rhyming version. Have your students line up single-file around the room, then pick one to be the first "king". That student stands at the head of the line. You get them started with a vocabulary word of your choice, then the "king" and the next student in line take turns calling words out as fast as they can. Each word called out must rhyme with the last, and the first student who can't come up with a rhyming word within the time limit (keep it short; try three seconds) goes back to the end of the line. If the "king" prevailed he gets to face the next student in line. If he lost, he goes to the back and the next student becomes "king". Depending on your students' skill level, you might need to prohibit using infinitive verbs, which are very easy to rhyme.
Variations on this game include having your students take turns calling out:
- Words that begin with the same letter
- Words that contain a particular syllable
- A word that begins with the final letter of the previous word
- Words that fit a common theme (furniture, countries, names and so on)
You can also let your more advanced students challenge each other with vocabulary words. The oncoming students each call out one word in either English or Spanish, and the "king" has to provide its translation in the other language. If he can't come up with the translation (and the other student can), he has to sit down. If the other student can't come up with a translation for his own word, he sits down and the king keeps his place.