Games We Play
When I think about the games we play in Spanish class, the one that my students love the most is "Simon says" or "Simón dice." (And these are middle school kids!) It does not matter what unit we are working on, students will ask to play. I usually introduce this game at the beginning of the year when we are learning or reviewing class commands. I love it because it involves TPR, has lots of repetition and is FUN. This is a game where everyone will want to participate. It's also a great way to quickly assess students' comprehension of class commands. You'll be amazed at how quickly they learn!
To begin, act out a motion or gesture that corresponds with each command. Students imitate and repeat several times. It is much easier to learn when you associate an action with a word. I find myself automatically acting out these commands whenever I give directions to the class. (Muscle memory!) Next, do a practice round to help students get comfortable with the gestures and routine of the game. No one is called out this round. This is pantomime, so there is no speaking involved. Before starting, remind the class that we play games for two reasons: to learn & have fun!
Here is a basic list of formal class commands I use with my group. Use these commands when giving daily classroom instructions. There are many more you can add! Alternate saying or not saying "Simón dice" throughout the game.
Simón dice... abran el libro (hold hands like an open book)
cierren el libro (close hands shut)
bailen (do a dance move ~ salsa, merengue or dab!)
busquen (hold hand over brow to search around)
canten (hold a microphone with two hands)
escriban (write in the air)
escuchen (hold one hand behind ear)
hablen (point to mouth while mouthing hablo español)
lean (hands like an open book but closer to your face)
levanten la mano (raise hand)
levántense (stand back up)
miren la pizarra (point to eyes)
presten atención (hold hands to frame the sides of your face - like a horse
wearing blinders to tune out all distractions)
siéntense (actually sit down)
tomen apuntes (hold palm out flat & write with other hand)
trabajen (pound your fist into palm like a hammer)
You may notice students pointing out others' mistakes and saying, "They're out!" So remind students "if you call someone out, you are out." That usually settles it quickly. A student is out when they perform an action that is not preceded by “Simón dice.” When calling someone out say, "Oh, lo siento, siéntate por favor" and they can play again next round.
Also, many students will copy what others are doing. I allow that initially for a very short time. It only works until the one being copied makes a mistake. Then, both students are out. (You may want to move native speakers to the back of the room before you begin.) After several rounds it is time for the "eyes closed" or "ojos cerrados" round. This part is really fun!
Gradually increase the speed of the game until you are giving rapid commands and students are following along. Be tricky! I like to pause and say "Ok, good job...siéntense." They'll think you are done with the game, but you did not say, "Simón dice!" Once you've led the class in a few rounds, assign a student to be Simon.
Resources created to go along with this activity:
More games from Señora Lee: