Quid est Fabula?
This is another easy review game that works best at the beginning of the year with returning Latin students. As the only Latin teacher in my school, I am in the position where all my second year students know me but only know a subset of students in the class since they were in different classes last year. I find this is a good activity to help build community as well as review vocabulary.
To play this game, you need to put your students into groups of two or three. For each group, you need a word list of 10 words or phrases that the students learned last year - adjectives, prepositional phrases, nouns, and verbs. Make sure that two of the nouns are repeated in each list. Hand each group their list and a large piece of paper. Then have them draw a scene that includes all the words on the list. The picture should be a scene - not random objects floating in space.
Once they are done, they should then switch their picture with another group and see if they can label all the Latin words used in another picture. Then everyone takes their pictures and sticks them to the front board. Now you or a student who can speak loudly describes each scene in Latin to the class.
Now for the "story" part. Identify the noun that appears in each picture. My pictures usually contain puella et canis or puella et draco and see if you or your students can connect the pictures into a story. Let the students determine how to number the pictures. Which picture depicts what happened first? Which picture is the final scene of the story? Depending on the skill of your students and their comfort with oral Latin, this can be done entirely in Latin or just in short phrases. For example if in one picture the girl is in the field, you can see "Ecce - puella in agro est." In the other picture, if the girl is in the house - "Puella villam intrat." Therefore, the class determines, "puella erat in agro sed villam intravit."
This part of the activity can take a longer or shorter amount of time depending upon your students' interest in creating the story. Some classes have many creative ideas about how the pictures connect while others have less. Don't draw it out if the class is not engaged in this part. The important part is to describe each picture in Latin. The students love to look at each others drawings and by hearing and seeing words, a lot of vocabulary can reviewed in a short amount of time.
Four Round Review
This is an excellent game to review vocabulary when times are tough. When students are tired, bored and balking at doing work, this will save your sanity while providing actual instruction. Like many good ideas, it wasn't my invention. It was described to me by an English teacher many years ago. Thank you Ms. Lilly.
To play, you need a review list of about 50 words. The list should include just the Latin words without the English meanings. You also need to break your students up into teams of 3-4 students. If you have a group of "Latin stars," put them together and give them a more difficult list. Otherwise, as you will see, those kids "that know everything" will dominate their team and the other students will likely not participate.
To begin, break the students into teams. Instruct the teams to sit together in small clusters facing each other. Give everyone a copy of the list, and ask students to look it over. Encourage them to ask each other about words they don't know. They may write on the word list. Give everyone a couple of minutes to familiarize themselves with the list and clarify words that no one seems to remember.
Then explain that there will be 4 rounds to the game and each round will require a leader and a scorekeeper. These positions will rotate. During the first round, the leader will simply read off the Latin words while the rest of the team will call out the English meaning. For each word, the team knows, the scorekeeper will given them a point. During the second round, the new leader will read off the English meaning and the team will call out the Latin. The new scorekeeper will keep track of these points. During the third round, the leader will attempt to describe the word in English or in Latin without using the English meaning. This round is similar to the game, "Taboo." The last round is the pictionary round where the leader draws the word and the team attempts to guess based on the picture. I usually divide the board into 4-5 segments and give each team a portion of the board.
How To Lead A Round:
Teacher (addressing class broken up into teams): In this round, the leader is going to (do one of the things explained above) Does every team have a new leader and scorekeeper? Okay, ready - GO. Teacher then listen in in on the various groups and calls time when one of the groups has guessed most of the words. Everyone count up your points (wait a few minutes) Team I, how many points did you get? Team 2 Team 3? Teacher writes the tallies on the board. Okay, now switch leaders and scorekeepers. In the next round, ... repeat explanation.
Tips to Make This Game Work:
Whole Class Drawing
This is a relatively new activity in my classroom. I started using it several years ago and have repeated it many times since then. It has been successful every single time that I have done it and students often beg for "Bad Latin Drawing" as it is colloquially called in my class. You need absolutely nothing for this activity except a white board in front of the class. Colored white board markers help but they are not necessary. Below is one drawing that my 8th grade class did.
What it requires is that you speak in Latin to your students. Now before you balk, this is really easier than it seems. You don't need to give a Ciceronian oration in Latin but simply direct students what to draw. I know many teachers who are fluent Latin speakers, I am not one of them. When surrounded by Latin speakers, I appear rather dense and taciturn. Sometimes I speak Latin with a New York accent. It's not pretty. My point is - If I can lead this activity, you can too.
Basically, all you need to do is decide upon a scene to draw - a house, a road, a farm and field. Since I am currently using Ecce Romani, I tend to use the scenes that are described in the chapter - a road, an inn, a country house etc. In Latin, I then tell students what to draw and they come up one by one and add pieces to the picture. My commands tend to be:
Necesse est habere...
Necesse est delineare...
I usually start with Volo terram planam, which is simply a line on which we can add more things. Then Volo villam...Volo arborem prope villam... Volo agrum cum floribus. This activity is great for oral practice with prepositional phrases. Eventually we add different types of people, animals and items. Things quickly get bizarre. I might say: Volo in caelo deum iratum or Volo draconem qui edit puerum. Some students call out in Latin things that they want to add and then we add those. This activity can run between 15-20 minutes.
For those following the pedagogical debate between acquiring vs learning language, this activity definitely falls within the realm of language acquisition. If you wish to understand the debate, there are many language blogs on the topic quoting different aspects of language acquisition research. As none of the studies answer my overriding concern, "What am I doing tomorrow?" I will let others debate. However, proponents of both the grammatical and acquisition approach can agree that repetition builds retention. By dictating a picture that students can draw, I can repeat words orally five or six times that they might only encounter once or twice in the text. I can easily bring in other words particularly adjectives and prepositional phrases that they may not have seen recently. Regardless of language learning theory, this activity provides entertainment and instruction with almost zero preparation on the teachers's part. In my research, this experiment bears repeating.
Tips to Make this Activity Work
This activity works well to turn the rather banal but necessary activity of going over a worksheet into an engaging game. It requires no prep and if desired, can be easily conducted entirely in Latin.
The activity is based on a television game show called Hollywood Squares. In the U.S., it ran for many years (too many - if you ask me.) Nine celebrities, would sit in a balcony in a 3x3 grid - a giant tic-tac-toe board. The host, would ask two contestants questions and the contestants would call on the various celebrities to answer the questions. The contestants would then either agree or disagree with the celebrities. If they agreed with the celebrity and the celebrity was correct, a lighted X or O would appear above the box. If they agreed with the celebrity and the celebrity was wrong, then their competitor would get the square. The goal was to get three X's or three O's in a row - basically win tic-tac-toe. Below is a short video of the show so you can see how it works.
Luckily the classroom version of this is far more entertaining than the game show. The only preparation for the game is to create a worksheet that has either 9, 16, or 25 questions. The answers should be short and definitive. First, have the students do the worksheet. They can do this for homework, or during the first part of the class - whichever. Once the students have completed the worksheet, draw a grid on the board that corresponds to the number of questions on the worksheet. Number each square. Now announce to the class that you will be playing a game and that you need two contestants. Call your two eager volunteers up to the front of the room and put the names of the rest of the class into the squares of the grid. When you are done, you will have something that looks like this:
Before play begins, assign one contestant to be "X" and the other to be "O." Whoever is X goes first. I usually ask the two contestants to do a round of "rock-paper-scissors" to decide this. To play the game, the first contestant chooses a space in which he or she want to place an "X". Let's say my first contestant wants to put an "X" in space #10. He calls on Maria, who reads question #10 and tells the contestant what she thinks is the correct answer. The contestant then agrees or disagrees with her. If he agrees with her and she is correct, then the contestant gets an "X" in the space. If he agrees with her and she is wrong, then his opponent gets the square and puts an "O" in the space. Likewise, if Maria gives the wrong answer and he disagrees with her, then the contestant also gets an "X." Unlike the TV game show, the goal here is not simply to get 4 in a row, but to get more X's or O's than your opponent. Anyone who gets 4 in a row, gets an extra point. In other words, if one contestant succeeded in putting an X in squares 1, 5,, 9 and 13, then he or she would get 5 points.
Here is a picture of a game in progress:
The game is over when all the squares have either an X or an O in them. Add up the number of X's and O's, making sure to add a point for any rows and declare a winner.
Tips to Make This Game Work:
Growing up, I hated this game show. The "celebrities" were mostly actors in cancelled sitcoms who had trouble finding other work. I was embarrassed watching their attempts to be witty while answering stupid questions. Plus, the re-runs of the show seemed to take up far too many time slots after school when I was hoping to watch cartoons. As a classroom activity however, Latin Hollywood Squares has yielded many enjoyable classes and breathed new life into going over homework or review sheets.