Playing the Game
Divide the students into two teams. I’ve used front vs. back, left vs. right, boys vs. girls, etc. Each team will send one representative at a time to the front of the room. If you have an odd number of students, you can appoint one student from the larger team to be the score keeper. That student will stand in the front and record the scores on the board for all to see.
The representatives for each team will stand at the front of the room, facing the board or screen. On that board or screen will be a list of vocabulary terms in one of the arrangements described above. I try to space out the words so that they cover most of the board; you don’t want them to be too close together or it will be easy to cheat.
Give each representative a magic wand. (This is where it gets really fun – you haven’t lived until you’ve seen two teenage boys argue over who gets the wand with the sparkly pom-pom on top.) Each representative must hold the wand behind his or her back and face the board. The aim of the game is a race to identify the correct vocabulary term before the other team’s representative does it. As a result of the high-speed nature of the game, you will need to establish yourself as the Grand High Poobah of the Magic Wand Game before it starts: your call is the final word on the winning score. (At times, I have been known to shut down the game and give them something boring to do if they complain too much about my referee skills. Do this once and they will remember next time.)
You are also the Host of this game, so your role is simple: say the vocabulary term out loud and wait for them to identify it on the board. Here are some examples of how this will go, for each arrangement of vocabulary that you use:
- Spanish words on the board: You say the word in English, the student has to be the first to touch the corresponding Spanish word with his or her wand.
- English words on the board: You say the word in Spanish, the student has to be the first to touch the corresponding English word with his or her wand.
- Pictures on the board: You say the word in Spanish, or even a sentence in Spanish using that word, and the student has to be the first to touch the corresponding picture with his or her wand.
Notice that I said “touch the corresponding word with his or her wand," not “slam the wand into the board or screen so hard it almost breaks." Sometimes the kids get a little rowdy, but I tell them up front that anyone who breaks my wand owes me a new one. They tend to calm down after a warning, if they get too rowdy.
As you call out the words, make sure you space them out so that they aren’t all in order, or all on one student’s side of the board. This makes the play time fairer for all involved.
After each vocabulary term is called, one team wins a point for being the first to identify. Every once in a while, I call it a draw, and they go again. Either way, after a point is earned the winning student stays at the board while the losing student sits back down with their team and that team sends up a new representative. This gives more students an opportunity to participate directly in the activity. I also remind the students left in the audience that they may NOT help their representative; it is all up to that individual in the moment of game play.