Thursday, 27 December 2012

Snowball fight!

This idea was shared by Carissa Peck, in her blog, Trying to Teach.

Snowball fight!

Basically, get each student to write a relevant question in the target language on a scrap piece of paper. (You could use vocabulary items instead of questions if you want - but in either case, the answer should not be written down, just the question.)
Then, they scrunch the piece of paper up into a ball and wait for a signal from you, when everyone is ready.

then - 30 seconds of chaos while they throw "snowballs" at each other.

When time is up (I'd recommend a VERY clear signal!) each student grabs the "snowball" closest to them. Select students to read out and (try to) answer the question.

I personally like Carissa's suggestion of making it into a team competition - divide the class into two before the snowballs go flying, on opposite sides of the room. "At the end if they answer their review question right, their team gets 10 points. If they don't get it right, let their team help them out and if as a team they are correct they get 5 points. (Let the other team steal after that for 5 points if you wish)"
Carissa has a couple of other suggestions for different versions on her blog. Her version in full is here.  You have to admit that it would be a memorable lesson, which the "teaching the brain" theorists state is a key part to get students to remember what they learned in the lesson.  Have fun!


  1. So glad you found this activity relevant. I agree that student swill be sure to remember it AND it is easily adaptable for all levels!

  2. I personally am not a fan of this strategy... I guess it's a little too much chaos for my teacher-brain to handle! BUT I think I could be convinced to use it when doing something like a novel study using "La Guerre des Tuques" where it fits right into the theme!

    Thanks for sharing!

    Mme Aiello @ Teaching FSL

  3. Hi Mme Aiello,
    I agree it's not an activity for everyone, and certainly not for everyday. Maybe this would be something to save for if it's one of those days when the students aren't concentrating - too close to holidays, the morning before an afternoon sport carnival or excursion or when it's really too hot to hope of students doing more traditional learning - or, as you say, if it fits your theme.
    Thanks for reading & commenting!

    1. I agree with both of you! It can be chaotic. You need to have the right control of the class. has some techniques. If your students are used to settling down quickly then you're OK.

      But if the class goes well, you have the time, and you're reading about the trenches in can work well!

  4. I was introduced to another version of this on a course for French teachers in France in April this year (with Langues & Terres, to give credit where it's due!).
    In this version, the first stage was for students to write 3 sentences about themselves (I have 2 sisters, I like swimming, cooking and sleeping, My favourite food is chocolate). They do NOT write their name, and should keep their sentences secret.
    Then the snowball fight, after which they take turns to read out the sentences on the piece of paper they have picked up, and everyone has to guess who wrote it. As a variation, the person who reads it out gets first guess.
    I've since played it a couple of times with my classes & have been really impressed with how well they listen & participate (I do have a tendency to over-think the "what could go wrong with this game?" side of things with new games!)
    With a weaker class, I gave sentence starters once, and with a different group I gave topics (1 sentence about your family, one sentence about your favourite activities, one sentence about X). These both worked well also. :) Snowball fights have become a regular (but not quite frequent!) part of my classes!