I am always a fan of repurposing things in my classroom. Why completely reinvent the wheel when you can just spin it in a different way? Playing cards are something that I always seem to have so I got to work trying to figure out how I can use them to get students speaking the target language. I always want to make sure that in addition to practicing vocabulary and language structures (initially) that activities and tasks also provide ample opportunities for authentic communication as well.
Last year I wrote a blog post about an activity that I crafted using playing cards. You can read the details of that those activities HERE. I was looking though Pinterest and saw that there was a math game that many teachers are doing using playing cards and I started thinking about how I could do this type of activity with my foreign language students. The teachers were having groups lay out the cards in a path of their choice and using them as a sort of playing board. I thought that this be easily modified for use with foreign language vocabulary and language structures and it also lends itself very easily to proficiency levels depending on the task and prompts given to the students.
In my previous playing card activity post I wrote about a reference sheet that I created for students that coincides with each card in the deck.
I decided to have students use this same reference sheet to engage in this new activity. Students have a chance to get a little creative with how they lay out the card path. Once laid out they get a copy of the reference sheet. This can be pictures, time, subject/verb pairings, questions…unlimited possibilities. In addition to the deck of playing cards and the reference sheet, each group of 3-4 students also gets one die and a playing piece, such as different coins or any small object that distinguishes the players.
Each player takes a turn by rolling the die and moving the number of spaces (cards) along the path. They find the box on the reference sheet that corresponds with the card they land on (4 of diamonds, king of hearts, 10 of spades, etc.) and speak using what is in the box. If students are novice they may identify with a singe word or phrase, but intermediate students could use the word or picture in a complete, discreet sentence.
The first student to reach the end of the path is the winner. This can sometimes move quickly, so I have students keep points by the number of wins and go back and start again each time there is a winner.
Be sure to keep this communicative by asking students to do more than say a verb form, time or vocabulary word. Consider what the proficiency levels of the students are and have them speak using the reference prompt in context and with the text type that is at their proficiency level.
You can get these card reference sheets on a number topics by clicking the links below.
- AR Verbs
- Regular Verbs
- Irregular Preterite
- Reflexive Verbs
- Class Objects
- 20+ additional verb form and vocabulary topics