I think most of us know the power of using puppets or dolls as an “excuse” for really shy kids to get a touch of confidence. Shyness just means “the degree to which you can communicate” and is of course the thing we have to help shy students overcome.
Using puppets for every kid in class can become a little expensive, but Malaz in China has come up with this great game idea using sponges.
I came up with Sponge Talk a couple of weeks ago.
I have a large class and not much room to move around so more sponges, mean more action.
1. You’ll need a set of thick kitchen sponges
(number of sponges about 10-20% of your total class)
(preferably with two different edges, brightly colored)
2. And a set of vocab / conversation cards attached with conversational suffixes, ie..”having a cup of tea” etc…
3. Say we have a set of conversations with “How about…” being the implied prefix.
The cards with the suffixes are attached to the sponges;
1 sponge, 1 suffix.
4. The sponges are then given to random students before the game begins.
5. The students are then instructed to pass forward or backward in the row repeating the “How about…” and then adding whatever the sponge says. e.g. How about … watching a movie tonight?
6. The receiver of the sponge can then opt to say “No, thank you”
or “yes, I’d like to” If the receiver says “yes” then they get the sponge and repeat the process.
if they say no, then the sponge is passed to the person opposite.
7. If both the person in front and behind the student say no, then the sponge is passed across the row from the student.
This was a really effective way to practice our lesson.
I also added an element of chaos with “Mr. Frog”
1. A stuffed frog is given to a student (whether or not they have a sponge)
2. They pass Mr. Frog until it reaches a student with a sponge.
3. If a student possesses both a sponge and Mr. Frog, they must then have the conversation with Mr. Frog, deciding for or against the proposition.
4. If the student decides Mr. Frog would like to “have a cup of tea”, then Mr. Frog is tossed to another student, if they decide Mr. Frog would not like a cup of tea…or whatever else…then Mr. Frog is thrown back to the teacher, who then puts it back in circulation.
I’ve found it helpful to participate as well.
This game is supposed to played sitting down. If you allow the kids to stand up, they’ll all end up hovering around whoever has Mr. Frog and the students who don’t have a sponge will begin floating around, not really paying attention.
I realized, while putting this game into motion that I could add several more elements which would keep almost every single student occupied at once.
A balloon, for example, tossed into the mix and given the function of reversing the order of the conversation if it hits a student with a sponge.
Thanks Malaz for that! Of course you can also use the game for just about any language point you wish to teach.
It would be really cool to make a list here of funky phrases to use after “How about…” Funny or off the wall ones always go down well, have a try writing a few up in the comments below!