Thursday, 27 August 2009

Form up!

An easy number game, great for younger students. Have the students stand up around the room / space (outdoors is good). Call out a number, students have to form groups of that size. The race to form groups can make it exciting for little ones. Congratulate the group that forms the quickest!

Monday, 17 August 2009

What's the time, Mr Wolf?

A 3rd suggestion from Ida Harsojo. This is played the same as the normal version, but in the target language, of course! Great for primary classes & littlies...

I've taking this explanation from Wikipedia (click the link for variations)

One player is chosen to be Mr Wolf (the name usually remains "Mr Wolf" irrespective of the gender of the player). Mr Wolf stands at the opposite end of the playing field from the other players, facing away from them. A call-and-response then takes place: all players except Mr Wolf chant in unison "What's the time, Mr Wolf?", and Mr Wolf will answer in one of two ways:

* Mr Wolf may call a clock time - usually an hour ending in "o'clock" ("Three o'clock!").

The other players will then take that many steps towards Mr Wolf, counting the steps out loud as they go ("One, Two, Three!"). They then ask the question again.

* Mr Wolf may call "Dinner Time! (or, occasionally, "Lunch Time!"). "Midnight!" may also be used.

At this point, Mr Wolf will turn and chase the other players back to their starting point. If Mr Wolf successfully tags a player, that player becomes the new Mr Wolf for the next round.

(the version I played as a child was different again from the variations suggested on Wikipedia - another game with lots of different ways of playing!)

Unnamed! Suggestions, please!

Another game from Ida Harsojo! This is written with Primary MFL in mind, but could easily be adapted for older & more confident classes.

Divide the class into as many teams as you can, the more the better.

Write several questions on the board - for example:
1. Write 2 Indonesian words starting with S
2. Write a country starting with S (in English if Indonesian is too hard)
3. Write a big city starting with S (in English if Indonesian is too hard)
4. Write a fictional character starting with S

Every team should write their answers on a piece of paper. Once all finish, the teacher has to write their answers on the board so everyone can see the answers. Any answer that is the same only gets 5 marks, if a team comes up with an answer tht no one else has they get 10 marks. So the aim is to think of an answer which no one else thinks of.

Add the marks, the team who gets the most mark, wins.

Sunday, 16 August 2009

King Monkey

This one has been suggested by Ida Harsojo, from NSW.

Students sit in a circle. One is out (to guess later who Raja Monyet is) – so usually he/she is sitting outside the door of the classroom. The class, sitting in a circle decide who raja Monyet(King Monkey) is. The one who is outside is called back.
He/she asks someone else ‘Siapa namamu?’ (What's your name?) the student who is asked will say their names if he/she is not Raja Monyet. When the one who is designated to be Raja Monyet is being asked, he/she has to answer ‘Raja Monyet’, and he/she will be the one out. Keep track how many guesses the students do, the one who asks the question the fewest times win. The students love being the one outside, and the others are happy to be among Raja Monyet too. This is meaningful repetition for asking ‘siapa namamu’?

You can change the question into ‘Kamu dari mana?” The students can answer their origin, while the one will be answered dari ‘hutan’ (from the jungle - for orang-utan). And he will be out. The question can be ‘Berapa umurmu?’ (how old are you?) Just decide which number is the magic one depending on the ages of the students and decide a much older age etc.

Saturday, 15 August 2009

Key Words

Each student is given a word for the week (or fortnight, or even just for the lesson). Carry on your lessons as normal, but occasionally call out one of the allocated words. It could be done deliberately (eg call it out while students are doing some quiet work - if that ever happens!) or just mentioned naturally as part of the lesson depending on the words you use.
If the student recognizes it as their word and remembers to stand up, then they get a point or some kind of reward.
This can be a way to give weaker students a go - give them a word that is likely to come up more often.


this is pretty well known, and can be played orally as "Think Fast" (see below.) Otherwise, give students a time limit (between 15 and 45 seconds works well to keep everyone engaged and keep it "pacy" - but you can give longer limits if your students have the vocabulary and the attention span!) - I give a different limit each time, and don't always warn students how long they will have.

Give a category (things that are usually red, activities that don't involve a ball... the more creative the category the better, but you can stick with standard MFL categories such as words beginning with..., things you'd find in a classroom) and call out your "start!' word (in the target language.)

Students write down as many words as they can think of that fit the category. Students get one point for each correct word they have written by the end of the time limit.

A variation: Once you have stopped them (at the end of the time limit), ask the student who has come up with the most words to call out their words. If they call out a word that others have written down (they call out to say) doesn't count. All students need to cross out any words that anyone else has also written - this means students start getting creative and thinking laterally about what words to write down.

Another variation: as a team game. Give a longer time limit, and each team has one pen and one peice of paper. The paper can be sticky-taped up on the wall (each piece away from the others so that the other teams can't read them!). Students are grouped on the other side of the room so they need to run to the piece of paper, write down their word then run back to pass the pen on to the next person.

Of course, there are lots of other ways to adapt this one - please add your version as a comment below!


You will need a defined space for this one if playing outside. It can be played in the classroom with all the furniture left as is, or you can re-arrange or remove the desks.

Students stand up and spread themselves around the space.

The teacher asks a question and selects someone to answer (e.g. first hand up.) If the answer is correct, the student takes a step. If they can reach another student to “tag” them, the tagged student is out and must sit down. Students may chose to step further away instead.

Continue until there is just one student left standing, or until the students become a little restless.

Variations: If no one who is standing can answer a question but someone who is out can answer correctly, then that student can rejoin the game.

A magnificent answer (e.g. full sentence, demonstrating newly taught structure or something else unexpected but wonderful) earns the right to take 2 steps.

Thursday, 13 August 2009

Noughts and Crosses - From Anne MacKelvie

Set the vocabulary cards up in a noughts and crosses formation on the board. Split the class into two teams, one being the noughts and one the crosses. The pupils have to correctly name the vocabulary in order to place their 0 or X.

Students from all year levels like this one!

Hatschi Patschi

From Anne MacKelvie:
Students sit in a circle on chairs (all facing into the circle).
One student is "it" and has to stand facing away from the circle. The teacher gets all students in the circle to close their eyes and then proceeds to tap 3 kids on the head. All students may then open their eyes and the person that is "it" may come into the circle.
This student will go around the circle asking individual students a question in the target language. Each student is required to give a correct answer, except for the students that have been tapped on the head. When a question is addressed to them they simply call out "Hatschi Patschi", which is the signal for all students in the circle to jump up and run to a different chair (incl. the student who was in the middle).
The new student left without a chair is now "it" and the game begins again.

(Danielle's comment: I am looking forward to trying this one with my students. The basic circle & swapping seats idea is explored in different ways under the heading of "Fruit salad" further down the page.

With beginner learners, the question can be the same one repeated over and over as a way of drilling both the question and practicing responses, and swapped (or not) with after each "hatchi patchi". With students who have a wider knowledge of the target language, you can make a rule that students can't repeat a question.)

team whispers

Write a good selection of numbers on the board (depending on the age of your children) and divide the class into 2 teams facing the board.
Stand at the back of the classroom and call one student from each line over to you. Whisper a number from the board to the students, who then have to run back to their team and whisper it to the next person in their line.
The whispers carry on down the line until they reach the person at the front who has to find the number, slam it with their hand and shout the number. This game can also be used with any vocabulary being used (fruit, family etc) simply by putting the pictures on the board.
A great game for all ages which has never let me down!


Another one from Anne - a worksheet based game this time.

This fun worksheet activity is based on the popular anagram pencil puzzles. I've used it in Russian class for ages 11-13, but am currently adapting it for other languages and younger children.
Choose 10-12 vocabulary words that you would like to reinforce with your students. As you develop your list, have in mind a common idiom or well-known saying in the target language whose words contain letters found in the vocabulary list. Scramble the vocab words, placing the appropriate number of blank dashes next to each one.
At the bottom of the page, place dashes for each letter of each word of the idiom or saying that you want your students to "decode." Number each dash of the unscrambled letters that are to be transferred to dashes of the mystery phrase at the bottom. You can give clues for the anagrams, if necessary.
As your class unscrambles the words onto the dashes, they transfer the numbered letters to the dashes at the bottom, revealing the "code."
This activity is fairly quick and simple for a teacher to devise, yet also fun, reinforcing and informative for students.

Another "code" you can use when starting out with learning numbers is to assign each letter of the alphabet a number, then write the numbers out in words, if that makes sense. (So, if you go with the standard A=1, B=2, C=3 etc then the word "great" would be spelled out using "seven eighteen five one twenty" - but in the target language. eg, "tujuh delapan belas lima satu dua puluh")

(I've done something very similar by typing in a list of words, sentences or a message in Word (or similar), then changing the font to Webdings or wingdings, and providing a key at the bottom (the alphabet in both webdings and "normal" font.) Students love codes, and this has always been popular! I used it a couple of times in Saya Bisa! - Danielle)

Hot and cold

From Anne again!
This can also be used for teaching anything that needs chanting (e.g. counting numbers). One person leaves the room and the other pupils hide an object. As the person comes back in the pupils start chanting louder as the person gets nearer and quieter as the person is further away until the object is found. When the object is found, another pupil gets to go out.

(this one is also one of the games on "short & simple ideas for MFL classes - the link is on this page under "Other fun and games" - it's very much worth checking out! - Danielle)

Living bingo

Thanks again, Anne! You're a star!

You will need 2 sets of cards, one set with the Indonesian word and the other with either a picture or the English word.
Hand out the Indonesian words to the students and divide the class into groups of 4 or more. I usually divide my class into 4 groups and have each group stand in a corner with their cards. Then call the English word or show the picture. The person with the Indonesian card gets to sit down.
The first team with all its members sitting is the winner (Bingo!).

Tidak ada (What's missing?)

Thanks Anne for this one too!

Put some objects on a table, for all the class to see.
Go through each item in Indonesian, then ask a pupil to remember all the items on the table, get that pupil to then leave the room.
Take an item off the table and then get that child to come back into the room and tell the rest of the class what item is missing in that language.
If it is correct they get to choose what item to take away next time.

Anjing, anjing, kucing (or duck, duck, goose!)

This game is played with the children sitting in a circle. You start with one child walking around the outer edge saying selamat pagi, selamat pagi and sampai nanti! or anjing, anjing, kucing (or any other combination).
Whoever the child taps on the head and says ‘sampai nanti’ or ‘kucing’ to has to get up and chase them around the circle. Obviously, to make it a surprise who will be the chaser, the student walking around the circle doesn't need to say "kucing" / "sampai nanti" / "goose" on the third child - but it can be a useful rule that they can not go around the whole circle more than once!

The winner is the child who sits down first or the child who tags the other. The other child repeats the process.

Works really well with littlies - although Year 10s have been known to suggest it as a game to play!

Budi Berkata...

Another one from Anne! It's also great for parts of the body and sports as well as drilling classroom instructions.

My Year 5 and 6 beginners love this one! Just like Simon Says, but use ‘Budi Berkata’ instead. The instructions I use are berdiri, duduklah, berjalan, berlari and berhenti – but you could add many more! When students start getting too clever, pick the ones that are slowest to move or move even a little. I ask the ones that are already out to help me pick the others, to give them something to do.

Scavenger Hunt

I love this one as a game that can be used with upper school students - we often tend to forget to play games with them, plus you can add more variety of objects. This can also be used as a dictionary practice activity of you give vocabulary items that they haven't yet come across. Thanks to Anne MacKelvie for reminding me of this one!

Make a list of items in the target language. Send students in teams to find one only of each item. First team back (or the team who has found the largest number of items from the list!) is the winner. (Perhaps agree on a finishing time or you may never see your students again!)

Another variation on this one is to provide clues in the target language for students to follow around the school - this can be simple directions or puzzle clues - it is up to you how cryptic you want to make them! Either the students list the places they go, or the next clue can be left with someone at each location (kind of like The Amazing Race on TV)


Thanks very much to Anne MacKelvie from Victoria for emailing me the instructions for this one! I have also had fun with this with my classes in the past (I first saw it in Inside Indonesia when there was still a print version) - give it a try!

Anne's instructions:
This is a great game to learn numbers. All students stand in a circle. Choose one student to start counting at ‘satu’. They may say up to 3 consecutive numbers ie 1, 1 2 or 1 2 3. Next child has their turn, choosing to count the next 1, 2 or 3 consecutive numbers. The idea is NOT to say ‘sebelas’ because if you are forced to say this number, you are out and have to sit down! After someone says sebelas, you start counting at 1 again. Last one standing is the winner. Make it a rule that students are not allowed to tell other students how many numbers to say in order to get someone out.