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Ewww...Gross! eyeball

Warning: this game is not for the feint hearted!

by Atley Jonas

Here's a brand new lesson that I designed while trying to "think like a kid."  Kids love gross things -- at least my friends and I did when we were growing up.  It was always fun trying to figure out new ways to gross out your friends.  We even had a "gross-out" contest once during lunch hour when I was in elementary school.  If I remember correctly, I won that one... Don't ask me how, though.  That part I don't remember.

Some might call this lesson "slang" but really, I don't think it is.  These expressions are so commonly used in everyday speech, especially by children, it's probably more natural than the textbook correct "Do you like....? / Yes, I do. /No, I don't" patterns.  Even now, I catch adults using these phrases on a daily basis. 

The goal here is to produce natural responses in English rather than stopping to think about the "correct" English usage. It's a variation on several Genki English themes, e.g. strange foods, "Do you like...?", "What's that?", to name a few.  This lesson may be taught anytime, though it might also make a great alternative Halloween lesson for those kids who have already done the standard ghosts, witches and bats lessons.


Click the words for the pdf flashcards:

(It was a real toss-up as to which items to use...  I tried to think like a kid but since I want this lesson to be rated PG instead of R, I had to show restraint.  These are probably fairly tame, but I've also noticed that quite often, Japanese kids tend to be a bit more sensitive about scary or yucky things than Western kids.  We don't want anyone running home, crying).  I also included green peas.  Why?  Beats me!  I just know that kids love SAYING "green peas."  Maybe Japanese people think that it's got a nice ring to it, I dunno.  But just about in every class I have more than a few kids who dislike green peas, making it a pretty good addition to the list.

Target language

"What's that? / It's (a/an) __________ ."

Responses: Cool! / Gross!

How to teach:

The way I've been approaching this is to tie this in with the "Do you like ____ ?" lesson that my students have already mastered.  I explain to them that kids back home often react very strongly to things they like or dislike and use words like "gross" to describe something they think is awful, or "cool" for things that they are fascinated by.  I try to get them to tell me what they say in Japanese in such cases.  (Some possibilities are: "yadda" for something gross and "kakkoi" for something cool).  Once I've established the "cool/gross" responses, I bring out the flashcards and encourage the kids to respond with one of the target responses.  Then we go over what the items are, in English. Once the kids know all that, move onto the game.  Most of the vocabulary is not terribly difficult, but the word "booger" is especially challenging for Japanese speakers, as is any word that ends in "-er" as it tends to get changed to "-ahh".

Game: Gross-out!

Objectives: To gross-out your friends and score 10 points before you get 3 "gross" items on your own list.

Materials:@This game requires each student to have both a full set of mini-cards AND a score-sheet.  (See PDFs)

Method:@First, each student circles 3 things on his/her score sheet that he/she thinks are the most gross.  Then, they select 5 mini-cards from their set of 8.  The object is to go around, choosing random (unseen) cards from a friend's hand and asking, "What's that?"  Their friend answers, "It's a _______ ! " and shows them the card they chose.

The student responds either "Cool!" or "Gross!" depending on whether they previously circled that item on their score sheet.  If the answer is "Cool!" they get to fill in one of their 10 "cool" points.  If the student chooses a card corresponding to one of their circled gross items, he/she says, "Gross!" and checks off one of the "gross" boxes on their score sheet.  In addition, the student who showed the gross card also gets a "cool" point because of course, it's cool to gross out your friends!  This should encourage all students to participate both in asking AND answering questions, as you can score points both ways.

To win, you must collect 10 "cool" points before you get "grossed out" by checking off all three "gross" boxes.  If that happens, the student is "grossed out" and is OUT for the remainder of the round.  Start a new round by using the other half of the score sheet, choosing 3 new gross items and 5 new mini-cards.  You can start/stop the game to do this, but I usually just run the game seamlessly, and when students show me that they've won or lost I tell them to "try again" with a new score sheet.  At the end of the class we do a tally to find out who the winners were.

 *NOTE:  If you are finding that too many kids are losing the game too quickly, you can invoke this optional rule:  If a student draws a card that he/she has already been grossed out by once, he/she still says "gross!" and the student who showed the card still gets a "cool" point, but he doesn't have to fill in a second "gross" box.  So far, I haven't had to do this but each class is different.

 Copyright notice:  All the above materials, including any written text, descriptions of games, clip art images and PDF files contained in this lesson are the creative and intellectual creations of Atley Jonas.   This work by Atley Jonas is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.

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