Spoons! is an old card game but has been used in language learning for many years. My student teacher, Alex Simrell, taught it to me last year and I have repeated it several times with my other classes. I have since learned that both the Spanish and Mandarin teachers were already using this game in their classes. Basically, I am the last to know. Spoons works well for both simple grammar and vocabulary retention. To play a game of spoons, you need to make a set of cards that has between 48-52 cards in the deck for each group of players. Students are going to be collecting either two pairs, or three or four cards that clearly go together. For this reason, you can make a deck that has the following:
Divide students into groups of 3-5 players per group. Give each group a deck of cards and one less spoon then there are players in the group. For example, a group of four students would have three spoons.
Now, if the goal is for students to make groups of three, then each student should be dealt three cards. If the goal is for students to make groups of four cards or two pairs, then students should receive four cards. Now, the person to the right of the dealer draws one card from the remaining pile and then passes a card that he or she does not want to the next person.
This person then takes the card and either keeps it and passes another card to the next person or passes that card. Everyone should have the same number of cards in their hand that they started with.
While the passing of the cards is taking place, the spoons should be placed in the center of the circle in the manner pictured above.
Passing the cards should happen quickly. Everyone should be simultaneously recieving and passing a card. Students should be looking to make 2 pairs or three of a kind or four pairs. So let's say for example, you are playing with a deck that has principal parts. A student who has cards that say dico, dixi, facere and cepi should pass either facere or cepi while hoping to receive dicere and dictum.
Now once a person has gotten four of a kind ( if you are using principle parts), he or she grabs one of the spoons from the center. Now everyone else must grab a spoon as well (even though they don't yet have all their cards matched.) The person who didn't grab a spoon in time gets an S. Second time, they get a P. (You are spelling out SPOON here).
Now simply repeat the process. Collect the cards, replace the spoons in the center, shuffle the cards and redeal and restart. This game can be played for about 5 rounds (about 20 minutes) before it gets old.