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Slow Motion Pictionary

I’ve been looking for games I can play with my older classes, especially my one-on-one class with a quiet teenager. This works very well at keeping the conversation flowing in full sentences during a fun vocabulary-based guessing game.

To start, one person (could be the teacher or a student – we’ll call him the artist) thinks of a word. The rest of the class has to ask questions to try to guess the word. The questions must be yes/no questions, and every time the answer is “yes” the artist can add one line to his picture. The other students continue asking questions until they can guess the word.

If your class is as obnoxious as mine, you might have to be explicit about the rule that questions must be on topic – asking “are you our teacher” or “is Kevin in our class” is not a fair way to get a free line drawn on the picture.

This was as far as the artist got before the other students guessed "tennis racket"

This was as far as the artist got before the other students guessed “tennis racket”

Example Game:

  • Jenny comes to the front of the class, flips through the textbook for ideas, and chooses a tennis racket as her picture.
  • Bob asks, “Is it an object?” It is, so Jenny draws a line.
  • Mandy asks, “Is it an animal?” It isn’t, so Jenny doesn’t add to the picture.
  • Eric asks if it can move on its own. Jenny confirms that he means that it can move if people aren’t touching it, then says no. No new lines added.
  • Tim asks if it’s small. Jenny asks how small is small. Tim rephrases the question to ask if it’s small enough to carry in one hand. Jenny says it’s small and draws another line.
  • Sarah asks if it can be seen in someone’s house. Jenny struggles to answer, then decides that yes, it is seen in people’s houses, but only when it’s not in use. She draws a third line.
  • Jason thinks he knows the answer and asks if it’s something used in sports. Jenny confirms and draws another line.
  • Jason guesses tennis racket and wins the game.
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Draw This!

Entertainment for students of all ages, even the non-artistic ones!

Before class, the teacher should prepare a few drawings that the students might be able to recreate. Try to draw things that the students can describe, but that will still challenge them to use newer vocabulary.

You don't have to draw well to play this game, as evidenced by my pig here.

You don’t have to draw well to play this game, as evidenced by my pig here.

To play the game, divide the class into two teams. One student from each team will leave the room and wait outside (without peeking) while you draw one of your pictures on the white board. You might want to describe your picture as you’re drawing it. “It’s a pig. Its face is a big circle. Its nose is a smaller circle with two very small circles inside. Its eyes are also circles. It is cross-eyed. It has two big ears that point down. It is wearing a striped party hat in the shape of a tall triangle. It doesn’t have a body.”

Give your students a moment to study the drawing and memorize its details, then erase it. Call in the two students from the hall, and have each team try to coach its artist into reproducing your drawing as best they can.

Useful tip: For lower-level classes, I write up a list of helpful phrases on the board before the game starts.

Team A can't draw! Here's an example of coaching the students with useful vocabulary before the game starts.

Team A can’t draw! Here’s an example of coaching the students with useful vocabulary before the game starts.

This game is great to supplement a unit on shapes, prepositions, patterns, clothing, or facial expressions.