Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Sentence Card Games {For the Classroom or Small Group}

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When I used to teach at a local high school one of the favorite grammar games of my students were sentence cards. Basically, I would take a grammatical concept, come up with sentences to practice the concept and then create a card for each word in the sentences. If I was doing the game in the classroom the cards were actually sheets of regular-sized paper. If it was a small group lesson then I would use half index cards. I would make two sets of cards (make the sets different so they are easy to tell apart by either writing each set of cards in different colored Sharpies or using two different colors of paper). This way you can have two teams by splitting up your group in half. I would set up teams and then call out a sentence in English. The first team to create their sentence correctly won that round. I would keep points for each team to see who came out with the most points at the end.

Here's the process for setting all this up:
{Yes, this takes a bit of time, but I am telling you, this is one of the most popular activities I have done with language students and what I love about it is that they really have to use teamwork, teach each other, and learn sentence structure during the game.}

1. Decide what grammar point you want to practice. Negation, verb conjugation, and pronouns (directs, indirects, and reflexives) are great concepts with this game. Any concept that is dependent on word order works well, too.

2. Decide how many students you will have on a team. I normally took the size of my class and split it in half. Ideally, you will need at least two cards for each person on a team.

3. Make a list of words you want to use to create your sentences. You want words you can use over and over again. You also need a variety of words to make complete sentences. REMEMBER: You need enough words so that each student has at least two cards if you are doing this in a classroom setting. To give you an idea here is my list for a sentence card game with negation:

siempre, alguien, algo, alguno/a/os/as, no, nunca, nadie, nada, ningun/a, yo, nosotros, ella, patinamos, trabajo, trabaja, habla, hablamos, a, escribo, escribimos, carta, cartas, en el invierno, en el verano, tomo, toma, el sol, con

4. Using the list make up sentences in English. Make sure you use all your words in your list at least once. Here are sample sentences for the above list of  words.

We always speak to someone.
We never speak.
She never speaks to anyone.
I don't write any letters.
We never skate in the summer.
I work with someone.
She never sunbathes in the  winter.
We write some letters to someone.
Nobody speaks on the plane.

5. Make two sets of cards, each a different color. If you are doing this in a classroom setting each person on the team needs at least two cards. In a  small group setting (teams that are no bigger than five people) then the whole team has the cards set in front of them to work with. Call out a sentence in English. The students then need to create that sentence with their cards. In a classroom setting I would have students at their desks and they would have to run up to the front with their card and get in order with their other team members to create the sentence. They would hold their card in front of them so we could clearly see the sentence. Reward a point to the team that creates the grammatically correct sentence first.

I saved all cards and the sentences in English for the game from year to year so that I didn't have to reinvent the wheel. In a small group setting with half index cards I even laminate them so that I can get as much use out of them as possible. No sense in doing all your work over again!

Enjoy! Who knew grammar could be so much fun?!

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