Here’s a game we played recently.  It’s a favorite for many classes.  I “created” this game a couple years ago after watching a similar version on an episode of the Ellen show (It was a snow day, and my wife was watching it; I swear).  I have since noticed that Bryce Hedstrom describes a similar game on his site (here).

The official name is “basura-ball” but many students refer to it simply as “tirar la bola”.  The only two materials really needed are a ball and a trash bin or box.  I use a plastic football that has been in my classroom for years and a recycling bin because it usually contains less yucky garbage.  I set the recycling bin at one end of the classroom.  Here’s how we play it:

1. The class is divided into two teams
2. One member from each team steps to a desk at the front of the class
3. A ball sits on the desk
4. The teacher asks a question or for a translation
5. The first student to grab the ball gets to answer the question
6. If he is correct, he gets a chance to throw the ball for points.
7. If he is incorrect, the other player gets a chance to answer
8. The player who answers correctly can attempt a shot from any of five distances worth 1-5
points. I put tape on the floor to mark the distances.
9. Points are only counted if the student makes the shot into the bin.
10. If a student grabs the ball before the teacher finishes the question, the teacher stops. (This prevents students from grabbing the ball before knowing the answer)

Important notes:

*Even though only two students play at a time, it is important that all students be engaged.  Usually the excitement of the game is enough to keep everyone involved and getting mental reps while others are up.  It also helps to require that everyone participate or give participation points to those who do.

*Other than generating interest, the ball throwing component has little language value.  Try to keep it quick and spend more time on the questions/translations.  During the throwing parts, you can be utilizing some sporting terms in the target language (almost, nice throw, you need three to tie . . . etc.).

*This game can be played with no prep, but you could script questions or even project them if you want.

*Watch your video projector, ceiling lights and smart boards.  They may get hit with a flying ball.

Alternate version with choices

A variation of the game can be played when you want to focus on two opposite concepts (ser/estar, preterite/imperfect, subjunctive/infinitive).   For this version, place two balls on the table of different colors.  I usually use wads of paper.  Each color represents an answer.  For example, red = ser and green = estar.  This version works best with projected questions.  The student who grabs the correct color first, gets an opportunity to shoot for points.  You can also add an opportunity for extra points if the student adds a clarification.  For example, he grabs the ball for imperfect, and he gets an extra point if he fills in a blank with the form “trabajaba”.

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