Flashcards Can Be Boring (Part III): Use Rock, Scissors, Paper and Have More Fun!

Rock, Scissors, Paper seems to be a universal thing. In Japan, they call it junken. I used that to my advantage in the game below, incorporating what kids already know with what they don’t know (the vocabulary on those pesky flashcards that the children are trying to learn).

For this game, let’s assume that the target sentence is: “What are you wearing?” –> “I’m wearing____.” and the vocabulary is based on clothing.

What you’ll need: Several copies of the following document:rock, scissors, paper graphics, students, and the flashcards that the kids are using to learn new vocabulary.

Step 1: Do a little preparation. You’ll need to print out the document that was given above (this one: rock, scissors, paper graphics). You’ll need several copies of this document, because you’ll need to cut out each symbol (rock, scissors, and paper). Once these are all cut out, attach them with tape to the back of your flashcards. Each flashcard should have one of the rock, scissors, paper symbols on the back once you’ve finished.

Step 2: Now that your preparation is done, we’ll assume that you’re in class, ready to go. Preteach the vocabulary the students are learning (with your flashcards) and cement the sentence pattern they’re learning. You can do this many different ways, but I prefer the simple repetition method when you’re first introducing the words/flashcards to the kids.

Step 3: Show students what rock, scissors, paper is. Walk through the gestures (fist for rock, index and middle finger out for scissors, and a flat hand for paper). They’ll probably already know it from junken, but try to teach them the English equivalent for the Japanese they already know.

Step 4: Put all of your cards face up on the table (or on the board – if you’re doing this, you’ll need magnets). Point to a card and say: “I’m wearing (whatever is on that flashcard).” Then, pretend to be someone else. Point to a different card and say: “I’m wearing (whatever is on that card).” Do rock, scissors, paper with your (imaginary) opponent. Then flip the flashcards over. Whichever one has the strongest symbol on the back is the winner (remember that rock beats scissors, scissors beat paper, and paper beats rock). If the 2 flashcards have the same symbol, you have to actually do rock, scissors, paper with your opponent. The winner gets both cards.

Step 5: Do a trial run demonstration with two of your stronger students. The winner keeps both cards. Slowly call other students up to try. Alternately, you can make 2 teams with players that take turns against each other.

Step 6: Give other students an opportunity to try. Either call them up one by one, have them volunteer, or choose a team approach. Students will definitely get into the activity, and they’ll be unconsciously reinforcing what they’re learning!

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