This is an excellent game to review or teach targeted vocabulary. I again
learned it from a Spanish colleague (magistra callidissima). In Spanish
class, they seem to use it to teach body parts but I adapted it to verbs -
more useful for my purposes.
To play, choose 7 verbs that can be associated with hand signals to suggest
the meaning of the word.
Four were new and three they had previously learned. With the class
sitting in front of me, I taught them a hand signal for each verb:
scribere - pretend to write in the air
legere - put your palms together and then open them up like a book
spectare - put your hand to your brow like you are looking for
lacrimare - rub your eyes like you are crying
dormire - put your palms together under your head like a pillow and
tilt your head
intrare - using your index finger and your middle finger "walk" them
discedere - same as before except walk your fingers away from you
Note: No need to use infinitives here. I used the third person singular
because it was the only form of the verb my students knew at the time we did this game - use imperative forms if your students are familiar with them.
We practiced these signals for a few minutes until everyone seemed to get
it. Then I told them that they verb "capere" meant to take and this would
be the "signal." ("For what?" they asked. "You'll see," I said.)
After this, I divided the class in half and had them sit cross-legged on the
floor in two rows facing each other. Each person sat directly across from
someone else (about a foot apart). Three can play if you have an odd
number. In between each pair, I placed a small ball.
(Actually it was some dried walnuts, decorative
wooden yams and some other random stuff that I
found by turning my house upside down at 10 pm the
The object needs to be durable, not roll around on
the floor, and small enough to be grabbed and
covered by one person's hand so that the other
person can't grab an end and start a tug of war.
A haki-sac would have been perfect if I had owned 10 of them...
To play the game, you yell out the verbs and have
the students make the various signals for the verbs.
You then yell out "capere" and both partners have to
try to grab the ball/ walnut..whatever. The winner is the one who grabs the item first. Rotate partners and play as long as you can stand it. I was pretty bored of yelling out verbs long before the class tired of it. We also had one line move up so that everyone got a new partner every two rounds. To the right is a diagram of how to set up the game. Verb mastery in 15 minutes!
If moving desks is too difficult, you can place the item in the middle of a desk and have the students stand on either side of the desk instead. I have not personally tried this but may the next time we play.