This post has been updated and expanded in the first chapter of the Teaching Games resource book: You can download the free pdf version here
This is a quick and simple game to practice comparatives using animals. It was made for students aged 8-10 in a mixed ability class. Students play the game in pairs, sitting next to each other, and make sentences cooperatively.
There are two decks of cards: animals and comparatives. The two players sit side-by-side and both players draw four cards from the animal deck (which they can keep in their hands or lay out in front of them as shown). Then they place the top card of the comparatives deck face up in front of them.
They make a logical sentence together using the cards in their hands, one from each player. Then they both draw a new card from the animal deck and look at the next comparatives card.
They continue, placing each of the completed sentences in front of them until they run out of cards from both decks. All of the cards are taken from two A4 sized pages, so even with all of the cards on the table they don’t take up too much space.
Some of the comparatives, like ‘friendlier’ or ‘sadder’ don’t have obvious answers, but I think that children have a clear idea in their minds about which animals are friendly or sad. The sentence “a tortoise is sadder than a monkey” is just as valid as “a snake is longer than a bee.”
I like this game for a few reasons. For the teacher it’s very easy to monitor, as you can see the students’ progress through the game and all of the sentences they’ve made. You can concept check as you go if you see sentences that seem at odds with the intended meaning. I also like the game because it’s cooperative and stronger students instinctively help weaker students so that they can succeed together. Most importantly it’s fun, and students want to play again.
For feedback you can ask the class for their favourite sentences and use them as a basis for drilling. You could also ask students to draw their favourite sentences and make a class poster with the results. The next time you play the game encourage students to make silly sentences. They will have a lot of fun drawing the results and sharing them. You may want to set this up by drawing a couple of examples on the board.
The game can be built upon with additional activities that focus on practising and producing the target language. Here is an example: Divide the class into two teams. Elicit the names of some animals, then each team writes a sentence on the board that compares two of the animals. The teams check each others’ sentences, with help from the teacher if necessary, and points are awarded for accuracy by the teacher. Points should also be given for any self correction. New animals are chosen each round and players on each team take turns being the writer.
With larger classes you can play the same game with four teams, with each team writing their sentences on paper and reading them out each round.
Click here to download the powerpoint document. If your students are familiar with different animals or comparatives because of the syllabus you’re using, you could easily substitute in different words where necessary.
Thanks for reading!