A quick look at some childhood games re-imagined to get students speaking, listening, and moving in class without a lot of griping. All of these games can work really well in a classroom focused on CI.

I Piscatum! / Go Fish!


Keith Toda does a great job of describing how Go Fish! works well in a CI classroom. When I play with my own students, we use these cards. I like them because, obviously, students are counting the fish and asking for cards based on the number of fish. (This saves me from having to introduce numbering like binio, trinio, etc.) Although I introduce the game with the basic phrases: “Habesne…?” “Ita vero, habeo…” “Minime, non habeo… I piscatum!” “Vinco!” I do like to offer up some other options to students as Mr. Toda suggests. I also throw out the other options when I play against the students.

Simonus Dicit / Simon Says

Just in case you haven’t played Simon Says since elementary school, this game is just a series of commands which should or should not be followed. Either the teacher or a student is chosen to be the command giver and everyone else follows along.

If students (or just one student or one gender based on the vocative used) should do the command, it must start with “Simonus dicit…” If that’s not said, then the students shouldn’t follow the command that’s given.

Teacher: “Simonus dicit, ‘Surgite manus!'” (Students raise their hands.)

Teacher: “Ambulate ad ianuam!” (Nobody moves because Simon didn’t say to.)

Teacher: “Simonus dicit, ‘Marce, sede!'” (Only Mark sits, everyone else remains standing.)

This is a great way to introduce imperatives and the vocative as well as review body parts and actions.

However, the game can also be played with the indirect statement: “Simonus dicit vos manus surrecturos esse.” (“Simon says that you will raise your hands.”) and with the indirect command: “Simonus iubet ut manus surgatis.” (“Simon orders that you raise your hands.”)

Contortor / Twister

Similarly to Simonus Dicit, Contortor is a lot of commands. I enjoy using this game to get students up and active and listening to which body part goes on which color. As a quick hint: Have students of the same gender playing on the same mat. Mixed gender groups can be tricky, especially if students are in high school.

Setup: Use bought Twister mats, create your own with dollar store tablecloths and markers, or place stickers on the floor. Same with a spinner – either one from the original game, make one, or use a digital one. Put students in groups of 3-4. Spread out, remove shoes, and get ready.

To play: Spin the spinner. Depending on what body part and color the spinner lands on, the teacher says: “Ponete manum in rubro.” or “Ponete pedem in flavo.” The students then struggle to place the named body part on any of the correctly colored dots.

Based on whether you create your own playing mat or not, you can rearrange the dots from their original in row placements to scatter the colors for more fun, you can rename the body parts placed down or add left and right to the body parts, or instead of using colored dots at all, if you are teaching with grammar, you can use the cases instead of colored dots, calling out a body part and noun (students have to get that body part on the case of the noun said).

Indicium / Clue

Ascanius: The Youth Classics Institute’s Activitates Liberis, Volume II: Leap into Latin has a great version of this game to go along with their chapter on the Roman house. It includes a game board, playing cards, a note taking sheet, and game dialogue clues for students to fill in.

My only suggestion is to label the cards with categories to help students when guessing or declaring the murder: Quis? Ubi? Quando? Quomodo?

Mala Ad Mala / Apples to Apples

Some great ideas and suggestions can be found here, courtesy of Jocelyn Demuth. I love her idea of matching people (famous, literary, movie, tv, ficitonal, whoever…) to sentences.

My students and I come up with 10-20 sentences with which to play. We roll an online dice (10-sided or 20-sided) to chose a sentence randomly. Some repeats happen. That’s fine. The names they have to play are still different from the time before.

Quattuor Partes / Four Corners 

There are a lot of ways to play this game of chance. In its simplest form, it can be used as a simple review of numbers. I prefer to use it otherwise.

The Basics: Label each corner of the room a number from 1-4. Students will choose a corner to stand in. One corner is chosen randomly and all the students in that corner are out. Repeat.

In my version, I provide a prompt, then show a picture with four statements.

Quem prius vides?

images (1)

  1. Infans
  2. Canis.
  3. Duo liberi.
  4. Mater et/aut pater.

Each student reads the prompt, looks at the picture, chooses a statement, then goes to that corner. I roll a dice (if it is a 5 or 6, I just re-roll) and call out the corner now in the spotlight. Instead of those students being automatically out, I ask them individual questions they can respond to in Latin. If successful, they continue playing.

This is great for reviews and tons of repetitions. Plus, it gets students up and active.

Nuntius / Telephone

This game is great fun! It works like a dictation, but the enjoyment is in the wrong answers.

To start, come up with a list of long-ish, but comprehensible sentences the weirder or more unexpected the better. Though, I’ve done this game and had just as much fun with sentences straight from a story.

Students will need to form a line before beginning. Either the teacher starts or one of the end students. If the teacher starts, chose a sentence and whisper it slowly to the first student. If a student starts, have them chose a sentence (written on a folded piece of paper from a bucket, etc) and whisper it to the next student.

Each student takes a turn whispering the sentence to the next student. At the end, the final student goes to the board and writes down what they heard. 99% of the time, the original sentence has been mangled. Let the students then guess what it should be based on what they heard. If a student started the sentence, they sit out the discussion until the class is settled on a correction. Then, they share the original.

From here, a teacher can discuss pronunciation, words with different meanings that sound similar, the importance of enunciating, etc.

To keep playing, the final student moves to start and the game begins again.

When using sentences from a story, a great follow-up once the students have written and settled on corrections is to have them put the sentences in story order – which frequently leads to even more corrections.

Derigescite / Freeze Tag

This is an outside game. If the weather’s nice and your students are crazy, this game is the answer. Specifically, this is a good follow-up game after reading a class novella.

In Freeze Tag, one student (“it”) tags other students, thus freezing them. Once frozen, those students stop moving. Any other non-tagged students can un-freeze the frozen students. The game restarts with a new “it” student once all students are frozen.

To un-freeze another student, the non-tagged student asks the frozen student a question in Latin (about the novella, maybe) and the frozen student responds in Latin. If correct, the frozen student is now free to move again and the game continues.

To prepare for the game, before going outside, each student needs to decide on a question and know the answer. That’s their “password” to play.

One back inside, ask students to write down their questions and answers. Use these the next day for an impromptu quiz.

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