Games are such an important part of the classroom when we teach kids, and they’re sorely unappreciated when we teach adults! I make them a part of all my classes, with some changes of course, but there’s nothing like a game to grab children’s attention and to inject some enthusiasm and laughter into the adult ESL classroom.
Today I want to share with you my Phrasal Verb UNO game. It’s so ridiculously simple to make and you’ll have it in your teacher’s materials forever. All you need is a pack of UNO cards (which we’ll use for many different levels and age groups so read on), some scissors, a glue stick and either a printed version of the language points you wish to play with, or some colored pens to write directly on the cards if you prefer. One pack of UNO cards will be enough for many different classes and grammar points, but soon your students will be hooked and you’ll find yourself making more and more.
So far I’ve made this version with phrasal verbs for an elementary/pre intermediate level. You can download the list I used here: phrasal verbs for uno game. Note that there are some extra ones in case some might be too difficult for your students or in case you accidentally cut one in half (hey! it can happen right?!):
1) Print or choose the vocabulary or grammar you will use. Download my phrasal verbs list for elementary/pre intermediate students here.
2) Cut out each part of the phrasal verbs and paste one part on a card and the other part on another card.
(If you don’t have access to a printer feel free to write directly on the card. But use a pen or marker of the same color for the entire deck, you’ll see why in a moment).
4) Play UNO with your students following the normal rules with one exception: they can match the cards according to color or by making a phrasal verb correctly. Tell students they need to forget about the numbers on the cards. To sum up, only colors or a correct phrasal verb (any that make sense, not necessarily the exact pair from your list).
Here’s the beauty of this new version of UNO, although students can simply match the colors, they will make a huge effort to find the phrasal verbs (this happens naturally and it never ceases to amaze me). I’ve heard comments from 9 and 10 year olds saying “Oh well I have to match the color, what a bummer” They will always, always try to find the phrasal verb and you’ll hear them practicing pronunciation as well while they scan the cards they have in their hands to see if they have a match. Behavior will be wonderful as well. Out of all my games this by far creates the most peaceful students, believe it or not.
You can now create lists of any grammar points (where you have many options, enough for all the cards) and add them in the same deck of cards. Make them in a different color this time (if the phrasal verbs were in black do your next batch of strips of paper in blue or red for example) and place them in a different part of the card. When you play simply tell the students what color they are supposed to be playing with. Adaptations may cover such issues as:
– Different levels of the same grammar points (e.g. phrasal verbs for elementary students, phrasal verbs for intermediate students, etc).
– Different age groups.
– Different grammar points or even vocabulary points.
Here are some ideas for other grammar points and vocabulary that might go well with this game:
– Other phrasal verbs.
– Verb tenses.
– Compound nouns (one card says cup, the other says board = cupboard).
– Countries / Languages / Nationalities.
– Word families (photograph/photography/ photographer).
– Homophones (words with different meaning and spelling but the same pronunciation, e,g, new and knew, to and too)
Even if the list is simple and the spelling might make it obvious, students will still be scanning the options as soon as the card on the floor is revealed.
All of these are suitable with adults as well. Never underestimate the power and joy of a classroom full of adults playing games to learn or review English.
You can monitor and help students, make corrections etc. In private lessons or small groups you might wish to play along with your students and in larger groups you might need more than a deck of cards (check the package to see how many people can play at one time). When things quiet down you can ask the students for examples of what could go with the word that has been revealed on the floor pile. That way they’re practicing the entire time.
As always, don’t forget to…
Feel free to share with fellow teachers and leave me any comments or questions you might have! Enjoy!