7 Guessing Games for Spanish Class

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Guessing games! They are engaging, can be competitive, and an awesome source of interpretive communication. There are so many ways to use guessing games in a proficiency-based / CI focused Spanish class. Here's a run down of how I've used them with my high schoolers, levels 1-4.
  

How to Use Guessing Games?

To start, you need clues that use target language (TL) description. There are two ways to go about this. I can be the sage on the stage, presenting clues on the fly while individual students guess. This is pretty fun, and easy to do when you have little time to prepare or a short bit of class time to work with. But it may end up leaving distracted or less engaged students behind.

My other option is to put my students in charge of giving the clues. The challenge here is that more novice students likely don't quite have the language skills to produce great clues. Also, I want to give them as much input as possible without requiring too much output quite yet. My solution is to help them along with clues that are already set up for them. 

I do this by making a set of written out clues in the TL. Yes, this takes a little time investment, but it is worth it, as there are so many ways you can use them once you have them. Here are some pics of what I use, but you could easily just make a list of clues in a word doc, print, cut up strips to give out to students, and call it a day. These clues are for sale in my TpT store.

Clues I wrote for novices learning food vocabulary

Another idea for saving time: I've had my more advanced students make their own clue cards (or have them make cards you can use with lower levels!). I have advanced students each write a clue card as a class warm up, then check their clue with a partner for accuracy, and boom, you have a game set of 20 - 35 cards ready in a few minutes. Another option is to download my guessing game card sets in my TpT store. 

Having students work with pre-written clues can enable them to work at their own pace if they have individual or group sets of clues. It is a way to hold all students accountable for active learning, rather than the sage on the stage option where some kids might zone out as you give verbal clues. Finally, pre-written clues make students engage with the language description in writing as well as speaking. 

Set Up

Once you have the clues written, prepping the cards is a great task for a TA / student worker if you're lucky enough to have one! Or there is no shame in having 1st hour students (or fast finishers) help be the setter uppers - cutting and organizing the cards.

  • I print the cards out on brightly colored card stock.
  • I print multiple decks, each in a different color. This will helps me keep the decks organized. How many sets you print depends on your classroom set up. I print a set for each of my groups of 4, so for a class of 36 students, I print 9 sets, each on a different color paper.
  • I laminate the cards to use year after year.
  • I store each deck in a little envelope. But you could also use ziplock bags or punch a hole in the cards and us a ring to store the set.






Activity Ideas

Here are some game structures that have worked well for me with my high schoolers at all levels.

1. Quiz Quiz Trade

  • Give each student a clue card. 
  • Allow them some time to find the answer and consult a peer to be sure they have the right answer. Let them ask you if they're not sure, so everyone feels good about the answers. 
  • Students get up, move around the room and find a new partner. 
  • Partner 1 reads their clue to Partner 2 who answers (or is coached to answering by Partner 1 as needed). Then Partner 2 quizzes Partner 1 and coaches. This is "quiz - quiz".
  • Then partners trade the cards and find a new partner. This is "trade".
  • Here's a video of how it works.

2. Describe y Dibuja 

Students work in groups of 2. Each pair takes a few clues and a piece of printer paper and colored pencils. Partner A is the describer and Partner B is the drawer. Partner A reads their clue aloud and Partner B draws what they hear described. Then they switch roles so Partner B describes and Partner A draws. After about 5 minutes, teacher calls time and goes over the answers. You can also see which groups were able to draw the most correct responses in the time given.

3. Pictionary

Similar to Describe y Dibuja, but students work in groups of 4. Each group gets an entire set of clues. The teacher sets a timer for 2 minutes and the whole class starts at the same time (I project the timer on the overhead through my computer). One group member is the drawer. They pick a card from the set, read it, and then draw the item described. The other group members guess in the target language until they get the right answer. Then the drawer picks another card and draws again, trying to get as many correct guesses in the time as possible.

Be sure to assign a checker to each group. This is someone from another group who looks over the drawer's shoulder as they draw to be sure the rules are followed!

Pictionary in my Spanish 1 class. Photo used with student permission.

4. ¿Qué es? Center

Provide several sets of clue cards at a table center, along with paper for students to write down their answers. Students might work independently or with partners. If partners do the activity, I like to have them alternate reading the clues to each other and writing the answer. This helps insure both partners are on task and practicing both speaking and writing.

5. Round Robin Warm Up

Students work in groups of 4. Each group gets a set of clues. With round robin (here's a video), students rotate reading through the cards one by one and guessing what each one describes. This is an oral activity, so no need to write anything down. I set a timer for 5 minutes and ask groups to keep track of how many correct answers they are able to get through in the time. Timers always help keep everyone on task!

6. Scoot

This is a fun game that many teachers use with task cards, so it works perfect for guessing clue cards, which are essentially the same thing as a task card. My friend Emilie describes how to play scoot in activity #5 on this blog post.

7. Free for All

Take one set of cards and post them all around the classroom (maybe even in the hallway if that's allowed). You can simply tape them to the bulletin board or be creative and silly finding hiding places for the cards too. Definitely spread them out because the idea will be for students to get up and move to find the cards. Each student needs a sheet of paper numbered with the total number of cards out there. Give students a set amount of time (10 minutes?) to write down their guesses for as many of the cards as they can. When time is up, go over the answers and see how many they were able to get.


There you have it! Once you've taught your students how to play these games the great part is that you can use them again and again throughout the school year, without the learning curve involved the first time trying them. I use these games when we work with different units on foods, clothing, school, physical descriptions, family, house, and body parts. Check 'em all out on TpT.

I would love to hear more about guessing game activities that you use, please feel free to leave a comment with your experiences and ideas.

6 comments:

  1. Can you share the cards you've made for level 1?

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    1. Hi Lori, I have sets for foods, clothing, school, physical descriptions, family, house, and body parts that I use with level 1. You can check them out here: https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Spanish-Task-Cards-Que-es-Vocabulary-Game-BUNDLE-3270493

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  2. I love these quick, fun card activities that promote verbal participation, however, I have very low level students that would struggle being able to give descriptions or read clues. Do you have any suggestions for beginning language learners that would encourage speaking?

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    Replies
    1. Great question. One idea is to match students for guessing activities with mixed-ability groups. So you have a strong student paired with a weaker student - they can help each other along. Another idea is to first do the guessing game as a whole class, where you the teacher model the pronunciation and description giving, and student just interpret your language, with you providing scaffolds (gestures, pictures, more target language description) as needed. Then you move the activity to individuals and/or groups. Hope those ideas help. :)

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  3. Fun ideas! Do you have answer keys visible to your students in any of the small group activities? We just played Head's Up today with my 2s and they loved it, so I'm thinking something like this may be in order soon!

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    Replies
    1. Hi Ashley, With the centers activity I've taped the key underneath the desk, so studnets have it but are not encouraged to "cheat". Another option would be to assign a "key keeper" - a student who you trust - and students check answers with that person. I hope you all have fun with guessing games!

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