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Tag Question/Short Answer Flyswatter Game

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This game has worked well for me with both adults and teenagers to practice listening and either tag questions or short answers. It would work just as well to review vocabulary with elementary students. However, little kids and teenagers can get pretty crazy and too excited.

1) large pieces of paper (1 meter wide x 1 meter tall) and fat markers OR the blackboard and chalk

2) two flyswatters
The plastic kind are best because you can hit the board pretty hard and not hurt it. If you dont have any, just have the kids use their hands.

Prepare by writing many statements (20-40) that can be followed by tag questions on a piece of paper--these are the clues that students will listen and respond to. Depending on the students' level you should use as many different subjects and verb tenses/modes as possible. OR for practice with Short Answers, write many questions with various subjects and verbs.

On large pieces of paper (or on the board/transparency) write randomly and in big letters all the possible tags or short answers. The advantage of using several big pieces of paper is that 1)you can tape them to the wall where a lot of slapping won't do any damage 2)you can prepare it ahead of time and 3) you can reuse the game, whereas if you write all the answers on the blackboard it takes a long time and can't be reused.

So for example, you will have on your paper "You will walk home", "She didn't like it", They are speaking Spanish" (etc) and on the large papers you will have, in random spots, "won't you?", "did she?", "aren't they?" (etc).

Divide the class into two teams. Teams or parts of teams, depending on the size of the class, line up about 3 meters or so from the papers taped to the wall. Give the first person in each line a flyswatter. You call out a statement and they both must run to the wall and try to be the first to slap the correct answer. If they both slap the right answer, the one whose swatter is on the bottom gets the point. If either of the two gets it wrong he/she has only one more chance to find the right answer. If both teams' runners guess incorrectly twice, they must pass to the back of the line. Solicite the correct answer from the class and then go on to the next statement. Waiting team members may not yell out the answer--if they do they should be penalized one point to discourage cheating.

Admittedly, this was difficult for the older adults in my class since their reaction times were slower, so you should choose the teams yourself so that there are equal numbers of strong and weak/and or slow students on each team. Most of my class loved this game and it made a nice change from regular bookwork grammar.

Helmi Shepard
DPT Business School in Denver, Colorado

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