If your school is like my school, the last few days (or maybe the last week) are dedicated to exams. We typically have 48 minute classes, but for exams, we have periods lasting about an hour and a half. It can be tough to plan an exam that keeps everyone working for a good chunk of time, but also that everyone can finish in that time frame. I sometimes find myself with a chunk of time at the end. Obviously, we’re not going to be doing something new in Spanish (I don’t think I could accomplish it even if I wanted to!), so I like to go a different direction.
Some of these activities are in English, which is a concession I’m willing to make at the end of the year, but many of them could be done in the target language, especially with an upper level class. I have also pulled these activities out before spring or Thanksgiving break, or on days when I only have half a class due to field trips or testing. Hopefully some of these will be useful to you as your year winds down!
You don’t have to have read much of Martina Bex‘s blog to know that she loves Mafia, and so do my students! This is definitely a good option, if your students are capable of closing their eyes and not bugging each other on the very last day before summer. If you’ve never played, you’re missing out! You can read all about the rules here.
The starter looks at a person and asks a question. That person then has to immediately look at another person and ask a different question, who must then immediately ask someone else a question. You can’t answer the question. See how long you can go. It’s tough!
All the rest of my go-to activities are figure-out-the-rule type activities that require critical thinking and problem solving – definitely something I’m willing to reinforce at the end of the year! I found the rules by searching around on the internet, and I’m sure there are more, but here are the ones I know.
Sail My Ship
This game drives kids crazy – it drove me crazy the first time I played, too! I start the game by saying “I sail my ship to [Johnny] with [any item that starts with the first letter of my last name].” Now Johnny has to sail his ship to someone with an item, and I tell him whether he can send that item or not. Kids love to hate this game. First, they’ll think it’s your last name, or if someone happens to guess right, they’ll make all kinds of crazy connections. But it is so sweet for them when they figure it out!
The Color Game
There are so many variations of this game, but the basic idea is that you go around saying colors and the game runner tells them whether the color is right or wrong. It doesn’t matter what color they say or in what order (but that’s what they’ll think), it is simply determined by whether or not they say “uh” or “um” before the color – if they do, it’s right, and if they don’t it’s wrong.
The Green Glass Door
This one is so popular! What can go through the green glass door? That’s what you have to figure out – the secret? Any word that has a set of double letters.
One Up, One Down
You can be one of three things: Two up, two down, or one up/one down. It’s based on arm position. I start by saying what I am (usually while scratching my ear or something), and asking what the next person in the circle is. They guess, I tell them if they’re right or wrong, and so on until they figure it out.
I did this one yesterday and it was a hit! I started by saying, “I have a story to tell you, but you have to guess the details.” They have to ask yes or no questions. If their question ends in a vowel, the answer is yes. If it ends in a consonant, the answer is no. If it ends in a y, the answer is maybe. It is super frustrating – my students decided that the story had to do with an elderly boy (the maybes) and someone asked, “Did he die?” – Yes. Then someone clarified shortly thereafter, “So he died?” – No. Chaos. I found it best to make a One question at a time rule so that I could pay attention and make sure I was hearing and answering correctly.
Around the World
“On my trip around the world, I’m going to [a city that starts with A].” Then the kids have to guess where they are going next. The trick – the correct cities spell out A R O U N D T H E W O R L D with their first letters. So eventually we can go to Tallahassee, but not immediately after Amsterdam.
Fork, Knife, and Spoon (or Pen, Pencil, and Highlighter, or any 3 such items)
Two people have to know the secret for this one, we’ll call them Bob and Joe. Everyone sits in a circle and Bob (or Joe) goes out in the hall where he can’t see or hear. The group decides someone to be “it” and Joe (or Bob) arranges the fork, knife, and spoon in the center of the circle, supposedly to identify who is “it.” Bob comes back in and guesses who was “it.” Joe is telling him by sitting in the same position as whoever the group chose. Make a semi-subtle pattern with the first few rounds so kids think they have it. If they have a guess, send them out to the hall to test their theory, then change it up (or not yet, if you want to be really terrible).
Two people have to be in on it for this one, too. Bob goes in the hall, the group picks an item. Bob comes back in and Joe asks, “Is it…”. Bob says no until immediately after Joe mentions something black. Again, you could make a fake pattern to throw kids off, and have them go in the hall to test their theory.
Magazine Game (or DVD Game or Book Game)
Two people have to be in on it for this one, as well. Lay out nine magazines in a 3×3 grid. Bob goes in the hall and the group picks a magazine. Bob comes back in and asks, “Is it this one?” while pointing to one. Here’s the trick – mentally divide each magazine into a 3×3 grid, and Joe touches the section that corresponds with the chosen magazine. So if the group chose the first magazine in the second row, Joe would touch the middle-left of any magazine to indicate to Bob which one it is. The great thing is, Bob can get it right on the first suggestion or the seventh, because he instantly knows what is correct with the first question.