Sunday, October 6, 2013

Adapting Children's Games for Language Learning

I have been a Spanish teacher for more than twenty years.  I no longer teach in the public school system, but rather give private and small group lessons in my home.  I am always trying new activities to keep language learning interesting, not only for the students but also for me!  I can't tell you how many times I have taught the colors or verb conjugations over the years! So to keep myself interested (and for the students, too) I am always looking to do new activities like using games or children's books to teach. Slowly over time I have been collecting games that can be adapted to language learning.

Last week my younger students and I played a game that I recently bought.  The rules are simple, but I modified them a bit to incorporate language learning. Elephant's Trunk is a great game to review a few colors, clothes, and some other vocabulary with preschoolers or younger elementary.  It can be adapted for other vocabulary simply by making picture cards of different items to put in the suitcases.

We basically followed the rules of the game except that I gave each player round discs with different clothing instead of giving them a set of discs with all the same clothing on it. That way they were using more of the vocabulary. We also didn't use the rule "consolation packing prize" that is listed in the instructions.

So basically you roll the die and if you get a color you can put one article of clothing in the trunk (suitcase) of that color.  I had my student tell me what they were doing in order to practice the Spanish. For example, "Pongo la camisa en la maleta azul." (I am putting the shirt in the blue suitcase.) There are some other rules that involve the elephant and the mouse that are located in the original instructions.  The object of the game is pack away all your clothing into the suitcases, but if you roll a mouse then you have to take the clothing that is in one of the suitcases.  That rule added a lot of interest to the game for the kids since a player could almost be winning and yet if they rolled a mouse they then had more clothing to get rid of. Here is a list of vocabulary that we used:

-la media*
-la camisa*
-la gorra*
-los pantalones cortos*
-el elefante
-el raton
-la maleta (suitcase)
-nada (when there is nothing in the suitcase to take out)
-A ti te toca. (It's your turn.)
-A mi me toca. (It's my turn.)
-Tira el dado. (Roll the die.)

*These words could be substituted for other vocabulary if you make small picture cards of the words you want to work on.  I am planning on doing this in the future.

This game was a hit!  Even if you play it in English younger kids will love it!  The fact that there were little tin suitcases added to the game for the kids (a very tactile experience).

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