A bed for a fairy


Image credit here


I made mention of this activity that I did in class during Felix’s LLU Live #5 about Games and Gaming, but I thought it might be helpful to flesh it out here.

We are in that post fall break, everyone-who-didn’t-get-a-flu-shot-now-wishes-they-did season.  Energy is low, time is short and oh, it gets dark outside at 4:30 p.m.  Yuck.  It was time, I thought, to mix it up a little it with a simple game.

Here is how you play:

  • Bring to class a couple of everyday objects.  I grabbed a large paperclip and a whiteboard marker frm my office.
  • Divide the class into small groups, no more than 4 people
  • Give them two minutes to come up with ALTERNATIVE uses for these objects, in the target language
  • At the end of two minutes, have each group report out their uses.  The other groups need to listen for any examples that sound like ones they also created.  Duplicate uses mean no one gets to count that one (in really competitive classes, this can be fun to watch unfold, especially when they have to defend their opinions in the target language)
  • The group with the most number of original uses for the item wins

We had to have a play off at the end of the last round…we had a tie between two groups.  For this I chose another object and gave the groups 30 seconds to come up with an original use for it.

The item? A whiteboard eraser.  The winning entry?  Una cama para una hada.  A bed for a fairy.  Lovely. 🙂

I was pleased to see the level of engagement throughout the class, and the amount of new and interesting vocabulary that was  developed while playing the game.  Next time I do it we won’t spend the WHOLE class playing the game (hey, I had fun too) but it certainly was a fun way to spend a cloudy, cold Monday morning.

Have any fun, easy games you have played in your language classes that you would like to share?  Please leave a comment below!  And please watch LLU Live #5 for more ideas as well!

Barbara is a Lecturer in Hispanic Studies at a small liberal arts college in Maine. Rumor has it this was also her alma mater. She used to work for a small liberal arts college in the cornfields of Ohio for almost 20 years as a teacher and language center director. Prior to these adventures in higher ed she taught high school Spanish and loved it. She wishes she had more time in her life to play with her dogs, write, read, swim, do yoga things and making stuff out of clay. To see her online portfolio please click here!


  1. Felix · November 11, 2013 Reply

    Great game, thanks for sharing! It reminds me of the MacGyver challenge, that the lifehacker blog sometimes posts. I’ve had students do a similar activity: find at least 20 creative uses for coasters (an important cultural artifact in Germany – even political parties print their own coasters for advertising purposes). Students have identified over 100 uses over the years; I’m planning on publishing them on a wiki someday…
    Thanks for sharing again, I’ll use this before Thanksigiving!

  2. Jill · February 24, 2014 Reply

    Barbara, I was so happy to see the fairy picture and bed for such a fun activity. Could you please add the following attribute to the picture?

    For personal use only. © 2013 whatwillwedotoday.com

    It is a graphic I commissioned for my website, and just want to be sure I can limit the use. thank you in advance for your help. and good luck with your language lab.

    Jill Hart

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