7 German Classroom Games That Make Learning Fun
Have you ever heard of classroom ants?
They live under your students’ seats and only come out when your students sit still for too long.
They crawl all over learners and make them really restless.
Sounds awful? It is. But you don’t need to call an exterminator.
There is an easy solution to deal with these critters. After every half hour of sitting, just before the ants come out, get your students to loosen up and move it!
The best way to get rid of these ants is by playing fun classroom games like the ones mentioned in this post.
Ready to have fun and stop those pesky classroom ants from biting? Read on to learn more.
The Incredible Variety of German Classroom Games
Games are great fun, and you can find literally thousands of them online, either as virtual games or as worksheets you can print out and present to your classroom.
But this diversity has its own pitfalls. To find the best and most useful games for your German language classroom, you have to spend hours upon hours sifting through all these sites and options.
Or, you can take a look at our list of awesome classroom games.
Here are seven German games that require little to no preparation and can be played at any level and with any number of students.
7 Awesome German Classroom Games for Your Next Lesson
Low energy? Tired students? Insufficient preparation, forgotten materials, technical malfunctions?
If you have these games up your sleeve, nothing can surprise you. You can turn any situation into a wonderful game-playing extravaganza, teaching your students German in the process.
Talk about a win-win situation!
1. Vocabulary Dice
Let’s start with one of the easiest possible classroom games: a game of dice.
You name an English word and ask a student to provide the German translation for it. If they get it right (one try!), they get to roll a six-sided dice and acquire a number of points according to the result; if they don’t, no points for them.
Go through all participants until the round is over. Whoever has the most points at the end of a predetermined number of rounds (5 or 10 are good numbers) wins the game.
You can divide your students into groups or let them play against each other individually. If you don’t want to cover vocabulary alone, ask about grammar rules, German traditions or about the names of German cities. As long as you can come up with enough quick questions to fill a decent number of rounds, this game works like a charm.
Oh, and if everyone forgot their dice that day, roll some digital dice instead.
2. Who Am I?
“Wer bin ich?” is a popular German office or party game, and you don’t need much to adapt it to the classroom.
Each student gets a post-it with the name of a historical German person taped to their forehead and has to find out who they are. To do so, they can only ask (in German, of course!) yes/no questions from other people, who can see and read their name.
Questions like “Am I still alive?” (“Lebe ich noch?“), “Was I born before 1900?” (“Bin ich vor 1900 geboren worden?“) or “Am I a scientist?” (“Bin ich ein Wissenschaftler?“) are all perfectly acceptable. As long as it can be answered with either yes or no, everything goes.
You can either have your students ask questions in turn or give them a limited number of questions (10 is reasonable) they can shoot off in a row. Whoever manages to get it first or with the least amount of questions wins!
This is naturally not limited to historical personalities: you could also assign every student a profession, a German city, a Bundesland etc.
If you really want to enhance this game, and enhance your German lessons as a whole, start teaching with FluentU.
FluentU takes authentic videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language lessons.
Offering a perfect blend of reality and language learning, FluentU enables you to teach German using authentic material. Students consume actual German material made by Germans, for Germans. Video clips of popular German movies and TV shows, news articles, German pop songs, commercials and other authentic content has been converted into interactive curriculum. Not only does this make the learning experience more fun, it allows students to learn German the same way a native would.
Register for a free trial today to bring FluentU into your German classroom.
3. Four Corners
You ask a question with four possible answers which correspond to four different corners of the classroom.
Once the question is asked (or projected on the wall), students have 10 seconds to get to the corner with the right answer—and there is no guarantee that following the majority will get them there.
Award one point for each one in the correct corner, and continue playing rounds until one student reaches 10 points (or whatever goal you wish to set).
As an alternative variant, you can choose two corners or two sides of the room and ask true/false questions.
You can even replicate the same activity in the next session, but in digital form. Use Socrative to recreate the same questions, then let each student answer them on their phone or laptop. You get immediate feedback and can easily see who answered what for which question.
This can be extremely helpful in identifying areas of knowledge to focus on. Especially if the majority of students get specific questions wrong.
4. Board Games
Playing a board game with your students might not get them out of their seats, but it will put them on the edge of it.
There are numerous German board games you could play, from Mensch ärgere dich nicht to Die Siedler von Catan—the German love for board games is famous and has produced countless classics. Playing them in a classroom setting allows you to introduce new words in a playful context, and it requires your students to pay close attention and understand the rules in German.
If you want to get an even greater teaching effect, why not choose a game that is specifically designed for teaching? For example, how about Alles über mich/All About Me or Familie/Family?
The rules are simple, but your students still need to listen and be alert. In addition to that, they have to tell something in German about themselves or their family on nearly every field they land on.
These games are also faster than many of the more complex commercial board games and don’t need any setup except for a printed out playing field, some tokens and regular dice.
5. Organized Chaos
This one involves a bit of preparation and might be a waste of paper, but it is great fun and most of the prep is part of the game.
It is also a wonderful tool to review your students’ progress and reinforce what they have already learned; basically, a class exam disguised in the guise of a game.
You write eight questions that cover last session’s topic, then copy these questions eight times. You now have 64 sheets of paper, although I would recommend printing several questions on one sheet, so you end up with smaller pages for each question.
Hand out the sheets and ask your students to crumble them and throw them around the room. When the classroom floor is all good and covered in paper balls, your students each get a blank sheet of paper and put the numbers one to eight on it.
Now, the action begins. Against the clock and against each other, all students in the room can rummage through the paper balls, unfold them and write the answer to the question under the corresponding number on their sheet of paper. They then crumble the paper up again and start fresh.
This goes on until the students have each found and answered all eight questions, at which point you can sit them down and go through the questions with them.
Oh, and don’t forget to clean up the room together! Put the wastebasket in the center, and your students might feel like basketball pros while they gather the balls and throw them.
6. Mock Dialogue
This game comes with a prepared worksheet, but you can very easily come up with your own sentences and situations as well.
Using the worksheet, you begin with part one, where your students try to decide on a meaningful continuation of a number of short dialogues.
In part two, the students now work in pairs to come up with their solutions to one of the presented dialogues. Students then enact their dialogue in front of the whole classroom, which is then opened up for discussion.
If your students are more advanced, skip the options and just present them with the first line of dialogue or the question asked. They can then go freestyle and use their creativity to find hilarious or strange answers.
7. Hot Potato
What could be more German than a potato?
Hot Potato or Heiße Kartoffel normally refers to an athletic game where players pass a ball (the titular “hot potato”) around to music or a timer and try to avoid holding the ball when the music or the timer ends.
There is no reason why we can’t adopt this to the classroom, is there?
Print numbered “hot potato” cards for each of your students and have them sit in a circle. They pass the cards around while a short song plays. And once the music ends, you call a number.
The student with that card of the number you called must then answer a question related to the session’s topic, after which the music plays and the cards are being passed again.
You can make it more intriguing by either have students sit out after a wrong answer or assign points to those who answer correctly.
And there you have it. Seven fantastic ways of getting your students off their chairs and on their feet. Goodbye classroom ants, and welcome classroom fun!