Is there any sight better than a classroom full of smiling students?
Incorporating things your students love to do into language lessons will lead to effortless learning that may actually be—gasp—fun!
Chances are, the vast majority of them, no matter their ages, love games.
Whether their favorites are video games, board games, schoolyard games or some other sort, all students are jazzed to get in some playtime during classtime.
The Benefits of Spanish Classroom Games
Ever notice how the mind begins to wander and drift when it attempts to focus on boring topics?
Even if the topic itself is actually fascinating, if it isn’t presented in an entertaining and engaging way, it still feels impossible to focus and get the most out of studying said topic.
Filling your lessons with practical activities that your students will actually enjoy doing will give them a positive association with Spanish class and keep them wanting to pursue their studies. Keeping everyone motivated should be one of your primary goals as a teacher.
It’s extremely important to integrate a variety of activities involving listening, reading, writing and speaking practice into your lesson plans.
Games are extremely versatile, and can be added to most lesson plans without a second thought. They can be used as vehicles to deliver new language concepts or as a means of reinforcing recent lessons.
With games, learning won’t feel like learning: It’ll feel like playtime!
9 Grin-worthy Spanish Classroom Games for All Ages
We’ve got a lot to cover here, but first we’ll explore games to amp up your students’ Spanish vocabulary.
1. El Juego de Correr
To play this game, split your class evenly into two teams. Start counting at #1 and give a different sequential number to each member of the team. Then dole out these numbers to the other team’s players as well. If there are 12 students in your class, this means that you’ll now how two groups of 6 with students numbered from 1-6.
Have each team line up in a row. Next, say any English word and then a number in Spanish. For example, “apple” and “nueve.”
Both students numbered “nueve” should rush to the whiteboard and write manzana as quickly as possible. The winner is then awarded a point. The game continues until one team scores the winning number of points (determined by you or your students).
Not as in the farmer’s dog, although you could likely incorporate that song into class if so desired as well! This Bingo is a tried and true game that makes practicing new vocabulary engaging and interactive for students.
To play, print out blank or prepared Bingo grids for each of your students. You can fill out the grids with an assortment of vocabulary that you’ve been teaching lately. If the cards are blank, have the students fill in each blank on their grid with a different vocabulary word.
Afterwards, call out each of the vocabulary words. The first student to get an entire row (vertical, horizontal, or diagonal) yells out “bingo!” and wins. Once many students have a “bingo,” you can continue to play for “blackout,” meaning the entire board is crossed out.
3. ¿Qué es?
This game will get those neurons firing in your students’ minds as they try to guess certain Spanish objects.
For this activity, you’ll need a deck of cards with pictures of different things on them. You can do any category you like: foods, animals, colors, etc. You can then pick students one by one or ask for a volunteer to come up to the front and select a card.
Instruct the student to show the card to the rest of the class without looking at it him or herself. Then, the student will have to guess what’s on the card he or she selected based on clues from the rest of the class. This should all be done 100% in Spanish, of course!
4. Circumlocution Game
Ever have a word on the tip of your tongue, but you just can’t remember it? Or, do you ever want to describe something but you don’t know the word for it in another language? Well, this game is useful for just those instances!
At the start of class, divide your students into pairs or groups of up to four. Next, write a broad or specific topic on the board. For example, comida or, more specifically, frutas rojas. How broad the topic is will depend on how much vocabulary your students have learned and on how difficult you want the game to be.
Once all students have read the category, have all of the students in the group except one turn away from the board. Next, write some vocabulary words specific to the category on the board.
For the frutas rojas example, you could write manzana, fresa, tomato and frambuesa. The one student per group who can see the board must then describe the vocabulary words without actually saying them. This will force them to venture out of their vocabulary comfort zones and get creative with adjectives!
All set for vocabulary games now? Great! Let’s move on to some vivacious verb games.
5. Verb Tic-Tac-Toe
Tic-tac-toe, three in a row! Unlike the version of this game with which your students are already familiar, they’ll have to do a bit more work to win the Spanish verb version.
First, have your students pair up. Next, ask each one to draw a tic-tac-toe board with various subjects in the spaces. For example, they could write “nosotros” in one square and “yo” in another.
To play, students will need some kind of reference sheet filled with Spanish verbs. You could whip one up yourself to print and distribute in class, or you could have them use the index of a verb conjugation book or choose from a deck of cards with verbs written on them. To start taking their turns, have the students choose verbs by pointing to a random one on the give sheet, book index or deck of cards.
Each round of the game should focus on a particular verb conjugation. For example, “for this round, we’ll conjugate in the imperfecto.” When the student is up at bat and wants to put an X or O in a certain box, they’ll need to consider the verb tense you indicated, the subject in the square and the random verb that they and their partner selected. They’ll then need to do the conjugation for the selected verb properly. If they don’t get the conjugation right, they don’t get their square.
Whoever gets three Xs or Os in a row first wins!
6. Simón Dice
Touch your head! Uh oh, Simon didn’t say! You’re out! Surely you’ve played the game Simon Says at least once in your life, and it’s likely that your students have too. Simón Dice, the Spanish version of this classic game, is a perfect way for your students to practice mandatos and vocabulary simultaneously.
Ask for one student to volunteer or pick on someone to come to the front and be Simón. Simón will need to give commands to the rest of the class. Anyone who does an action that isn’t preceded by “Simón dice” is out!
Just in case Simón Dice didn’t provide enough mandatos fun for your students, there’s always the game Direcciones! The practical applications of this game make it an optimal one to play in class.
During this activity, ask your students to partner up. Distribute maps of cities and ask your students to take turns leading each other to destinations on the maps.
The student giving the directions should have a destination in mind, but they can’t share it with their partner. The partner being guided must listen carefully and make their way to the intended destination on the map. Mes-english.com has a simple option of a town map that works for this exercise, as does maps-kid.com.
Perhaps you’ve heard of (or have played) the card game “spoons.” This is simply the Spanish twist on the game, which can be used to teach or review Spanish verbs or vocabulary.
First, make a deck of about 50 cards for each group of about six students that’ll play in class. What goes on these cards? Well, that’s totally up to your and your current teaching topics. Generally speaking, you’ll want have 25 cards with 25 matching card. The first half might be infinitive verbs, and the second half might be conjugated versions of these verbs. Or the first half could be conjugated verbs and the second half could be subjects that match up with them. Once you’ve gotten your content created, print out the flashcards.
When the students can match two related cards, they can take a spoon from the center of the table (and try to do so without the other group members noticing). When other players notice that a spoon is being taken, they too may grab a spoon. Whoever gets the most spoons at the end wins!
This game is a little more active than the others, so get ready to move. Prior to playing Globo, you’ll need to track down a sports ball such as a volleyball or a beach ball. If you’ll be playing the game indoors, try to choose a ball that will cause no damage to indoor furniture. That being said, it’s probably best to play Globo outside or in a gymnasium, if available.
For this game, have students take turns throwing the ball. If the ball hits a certain object (for example, the wall or a tree), then the student gets a question corresponding to a specific category. You could say that hitting the tree means the student gets a grammar question. Need ideas for questions to ask? Check out e-spanyol.hu or take exercises from the textbook or workbook you use in class.
This is a nice, easygoing game that really doesn’t have winners or losers, it just gets everyone moving, active and thinking on their toes.
Another game that can touch on any topic that you cover in class is Jeopardy, which is sure to please any student. For further information on playing Jeopardy and other games, check out our previous Spanish grammar games post!
For even more resources on game or lesson ideas for the Spanish classroom, there are tons of sites that you can visit on the Internet.
Just get exploring!
As long as you’re ready and able to have some fun, games will become an effortless addition to your lesson plans.
And One More Thing…
If you already love the idea of teaching Spanish with high quality materials like these, another option is to use FluentU.
How can video clips aid Spanish teachers in class? FluentU takes real-world videos—like music videos, cartoons, documentaries and more—and turns them into personalized language learning lessons for you and your students.
We’ve got a tremendous collection of authentic Spanish videos that people in the Spanish-speaking world actually watch on the regular. There are tons of great choices here when you’re looking for material for in-class activities or homework. Plus, all the videos are sorted by skill level and are carefully annotated for students.
Each video has interactive subtitles. If a student comes across a word they’re unfamiliar with, they can hover their cursor over the subtitled word. That word’s definition, pronunciation and in-context usage examples will all pop up on-screen instantly. This is what your students will get after they click “watch” on a video. Clicking “learn” opens up a whole new learning experience for them.
In learn mode, all the vocabulary and grammar from the video is taught and reinforced through varied repetition (practicing the same concepts in different forms and contexts). They’ll play with flashcards, games, word matches and exercises like “fill in the blank.”
The best part is that FluentU keeps track of the vocabulary that they’re learning, and it recommends examples and videos based on what they’ve already learned. Every student has a truly personalized experience, even if they’re learning the same video.
If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to teach Spanish with real-world videos.