Sunday, June 28, 2015

Board Game for Vocabulary Review

I am indebted to Val Baggaley, ELL Instructor at the Centre for Excellence in Immigrant and Intercultural Advancement for sharing this great board game template. In this version that I'm sharing in the BLANK TEMPLATES section of my free resources area, I have inserted royalty-free clipart images as sample placeholders. If you have a newer version of MS Word, you can simply right-click on any image and choose "Change Picture." The new picture that you insert will then automatically size itself to fit the cell. How cool is that?

I am in love with this board game. I use it with my literacy learners either by filling it with images from the unit they have just finished (e.g., furniture and parts of the house, articles of clothing and weather) or by leaving in one item for each letter of the alphabet. The alphabet version is especially useful when we have new learners join the class who are still familiarizing themselves with the alphabet and related sounds. This is why, as you will note in the sample template, the five vowels are represented by words beginning with the short vowel sound and not the long. (Otherwise I surely would have used ice cream for "I" instead of igloo, a word my learners will perhaps never need.)

One reason I find this board game especially valuable is that it accommodates a multi-level group, as my literacy class seems always to be. Students roll a die and move coloured markers from START to FINISH. After landing on a square, the learner must at least name what is in the picture. Students are encouraged by me and by their peers to use as much English as they can muster in talking about the picture. Other players can encourage them with questions regarding colour, like/dislike, etc. When that player has run out of ways to talk about the picture, play continues clockwise.

In addition to finding this game a fun way for literacy learners to review sounds and vocabulary, I have had success using it with the seniors class. Their speaking/listening skills are at about CLB 3 while their reading ability and grammar knowledge are much higher. In general, my morning class does not like to play games, but they make an exception for this one. Well, they don't like using the dice or markers, but they readily grab copies of the game board and sit in small groups to quiz each other on the terms of the unit we've been covering. Whatever works!

For game pieces, I find that plastic-covered paper clips work wonderfully since there are many colours in a pack. I just bend one part so that it is perpendicular to the other part. This way the paperclip has a foot to rest on and a little handle by which to grab it and move it around the board. If you have game pieces from board games picked up at yard sales, all the better!

Tip: If you have a group that tends to rush through this too quickly, announcing "teacher, finished!" before another group has even made it to the halfway point, give that group a penny instead of a die. Heads = move 2 spaces; tails = move one space. Heh, heh. ;)

If you end up using Val's board game, please leave a comment to let us know how it went over with your learners, what level they are, etc. If you come up with successful variations on this game, let others know!


Val said...

HI. I am so glad you like and use this template. The game gives ESL literacy learners practice rolling the dice and moving their own marker the appropriate number of spaces. For many, this is a new skill and the game gives them an opportunity to practice. Thanks, Kelly, for this post!

Kelly said...

No, thank YOU. This activity is especially useful in multi-level classes. K