Locations markerboard game

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El oso está en el estante. Está encima de las revistas y a la derecha de los libros.

Recently in Spanish 1 we had a quiz over location prepositions. Normally this falls within the boundaries of unit 4 which ends the first semester, but I missed over a week of school this fall for various activity and medical things. (Not all at once, thankfully! But a day here and a day there sure adds up.) So then I had this weird little section where I needed to cover things, but it’s not enough for a full sized test. A bonus to this conundrum is I was teaching the school unit – a particular target for teachers who argue against ‘legacy’ teaching. The argument against ‘legacy’ units like stuff around the school is that it’s not useful and super boring. But it doesn’t have to be useless or boring! After all, how many of us have to ask our students where their pencil is, where the paper is, and so on? It’s part of the normal classroom patter we use every day.

Thursday’s activity (after a few days of comprehensible input) was a simple game that you can play in your classroom with zero prep. Here’s what you do:

1) Use something as your main object to be located. In my case, I have a drawer full of various stuffed animals that I had placed around the room yesterday when we practiced as a group. (This is also a great way to reinforce animal vocabulary and if you’re feeling really spiffy, you can do some quick group mega-easy-by-now questions like ‘Is it a cow or is it a monkey? What color is the monkey? Is the monkey big or little?’)

2) Put your kids into groups. Give each group a markerboard.

3) Place the object somewhere around the room. Make a big deal out of it.

4) Set a timer for 1 minute per round.

5) Each group has to write a sentence about where the object is (no notes!). My very competitive period 3 class enjoyed trying to one-up each other. They went from something like ‘The bear is on the table.’ to ‘The bear is on the chair and underneath the table.’ To make sure everyone was participating and not just the superstars doing all the work, a different student in the group had to write each time.

6) Here’s where you can get creative. I gave one point per correctish sentence. (I didn’t take off for missing or incorrect el/la/de or spelling.) You could give more points for perfect sentences, correct use of accent marks, or bonus creativity. For example, if another group wrote the same sentence, their points cancelled each other out. I liked to put it in a place where there were multiple correct answers to get them thinking about different ways they could answer. Plus, this works on communication strategies – if you can’t remember how to say what you originally wanted to say, how can you restate it and still be understood?

7) Preferably, everyone writes great sentences and then they’re all winners!