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Preparation for the Games
Students play a very active role throughout this method of learning vocabulary. They aid in providing material for the games by collecting and bringing to the classroom those supermarket flyers which are regarded as junk mail by many people and are often discarded. Those very flyers will help them to learn vocabulary for food, clothes, household articles, toys and a host of other words. Flyers obtained from Hispanic supermarkets are great since they present the items in both English and Spanish.
Teachers provide picture dictionaries with Spanish vocabulary. For at least one lesson a week, teachers choose various categories of vocabulary for the games. Students may also use poster board to cut out and color large letters of the alphabet. Let’s choose for the first two lessons the categories of "Food" and "Parts of the Body and Clothes." Teachers have four different games to play with students.
In the first lesson, students will learn or refresh their learning of vocabulary by looking through the picture dictionaries and noting at least five words under each letter of the alphabet in their notebooks. Teachers may assist those who are having difficulty in finding words by supplying them with vocabulary.
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Word Skill Race
The first game after students have studied and noted their words would be a word skill race using the whiteboard. Words used here are in a general category. Students are divided into three teams, and each team picks a leader. The leaders approach the board and at a command from the teacher, each of them writes as many words as they know under any letter the teacher calls. They have 30 seconds in which to write their words. At the teacher’s command by whistle, bell or calling "Stop," students must stop writing. The student who has written the most words wins points, which can be added to points for other games or a small prize donated by the teacher. It is possible for a student to write as many as 10 words during those 30 seconds. Before the game begins, the teacher may provide a sample of the type of words he or she needs. For example, if she calls the letter "A," students may write:
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A second game involves the use of those "junk mail" flyers which students would have provided. Students are again divided into teams and work on the category of "Food" for this lesson. They would find pictures of milk (leche), juice (jugo), cherries (cerezas), potatoes (patatas), apples (manzanas), etc. They should name as many items of food as they remember without the use of a dictionary in the space of 10 minutes. The team with the most words wins and gains points.
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This third game requires two teams to face each other. Each student holds a letter of the alphabet behind his or her back. Students may use any letter of the alphabet they wish. Each team agrees on the letters the team would use. Teams toss coins to decide which team would start the game. A word category such as "Clothes" or "Parts of the Body" is chosen by Team 1. At the word “Go" from the teacher, the first person in Team 1 holds up a letter and the student facing him on the opposing team must call a Spanish word in the category chosen. Students collect points as they answer correctly. At the end of the first round, Team 2 gets the chance to choose its category and show its letters.
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Guess the Word
A final game which can be played is "Guess the Word." Teams may stand in the same position facing each other and the first person in Team 1 starts spelling a word. His opposing partner should call the word before he completes spelling it. For example, Team 1’s leader wants to hear the word botella – bottle, and he starts spelling ‘b-o-t-e…" By the time he reaches the letter e, if the first person in line in Team 2 does not reply or replies incorrectly, another member of Team 2 may call the correct word in order to gain points for the team.
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Adding the Articles
The only game in which the definite and indefinite articles would be included is the one in which students named items from memory in the flyers. None of the other elementary Spanish word games called for articles. For reinforcement, these games can be replayed in another lesson, this time with students adding the definite or indefinite article as desired.
- The author's own experience.