Old favourites: adapting board games

Published on 28th April, 2011 in Teaching Tips by Frances Watkins

Board games can be an enjoyable way to recycle language, particularly at the end of a term or a heavier week. Many standard board games can be used in the classroom, eg Scrabble or Monopoly. One of my all-time favourites is Beetle Drive, a game for all levels, even beginners. If you are unfamiliar with it, you can find more information and a sample beetle with numbered body parts on the internet using the search words ‘Beetle Drive Game’.

Essentially this game is a dice game played in pairs or groups. It does not require a board. Players are first shown a finished beetle with numbered body parts, eg the body = 6, leg = 3. Each team has an empty grid on which to draw their beetle: they draw a single body part after each successful dice throw in the appropriate squares on the grid, eg if they throw a 3, they draw a leg. Players can only draw body parts attached to what is already there, so they cannot draw antenna if there is no head!

This game can be easily adapted for the classroom using the following guidelines:

1  Play in teams of 2–4 people.
2  Students take it in turn to throw the dice within their groups.
3  Add a question after each successful dice throw. The questions can be about vocabulary, grammar, spelling, syntax or facts related to topics studied; they can be asked by you (or by specific students if you have a large class, using prepared cards).
4  Let each team throw the dice in turn.
5  Finally, remember that you can change the ‘beetle’ focus to anything you like with 6 parts (or 12, if you use 2 dice), eg a butterfly, a dog, a room!  When a team completes their drawing, they shout out the relevant word, eg beetle or butterfly!

1 Comment

  • Monopoly is also a great way to practise negotiating in business English classes. I always started by allocating students with property and whenever they landed on each others’ squares, they had to negotiate price for either an overnight stay or a takeover. To make it even more argumentative, I often appointed a student to be the bank so they had to negotiate loans, etc!

    Laura Hudson on 3 May, 2011