- Laura Lee
Games for Spanish Class | Simon Says
Need students to follow your commands in Spanish class? Play a game of Simon Says!
Find the resources you need to support your Spanish commands unit and make learning fun!
Can We Play A Game Today?
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." (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 it's 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!
List of Spanish Commands
Post a Command Word Wall on a bulletin board to support learners at the beginning of the year. Use these basic commands when giving daily classroom instructions. There are many more commands you can add to the list! Print an extra copy of the word wall cards to use during the game as you give commands.
List of Spanish Formal Commands:
Simón dice... abran el libro (hold hands like an open book)
cierren el libro (close hands shut)
bailen (do a dance move ~ salsa, merengue, floss, or nae nae!)
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)
Act It Out
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. Alternate saying or not saying "Simón dice" throughout the game. No one is called out this round. This is pantomime, so students are not speaking, but listening. Before starting the game, remind the class that we play games for two reasons: to learn & have fun!
Call Students Out
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, some 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. (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.
Playing Simon Says is a great way to add MOVEMENT in Spanish class. It's also fun early in the morning to help students wake up or to use in the middle of class as a brain break. For another great movement activity, try "Stand Up If..."
Hope you've found a game that you and your students LOVE to practice basic Spanish commands! Happy teaching.
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