Pictionary is a great game for some quick revision of vocabulary, and I’m sure most teachers use it in the classroom. However this adaptation seeks to go further, and allows for freer practice of lexical chunks in an extended form of the game. It aims to create memorable sentences and images to help students remember and accurately use new phrases. It can be used with groups of any level or age.

This game is played in pairs and for each pair you’ll need a sheet of A4 paper and 8 slips of paper (big enough for a sentence). I usually find some scrap paper in the staffroom and make more than enough with a few swipes of the guillotine.

Today, I don't have a care in the world
Today, I haven’t got a care in the world

In my example we’re revising phrases using ‘care’ with an advanced class but this game can be played with any 8 lexical chunks (some further examples are given at the end). My 8 phrases are:

  • couldn’t care less about
  • well cared for
  • take care of
  • longer than I care to remember
  • haven’t (got) a care in the world
  • take greater care with
  • care to …. ?
  • care about

I first write the phrases on the board without the prepositions and elicit the missing words. Then I hand out the slips of paper. The students work in pairs to write 8 sentences using the phrases, with one sentence on each slip. At this stage I monitor closely, helping students with form and function, ensuring that the finished sentences are correct. Once they’ve been checked they can be set aside, until every pair has a completed set of 8 sentences using all of the phrases. (If a pair is particularly strong and finishes early they are asked to circulate and check the sentences of their peers).

Some people in this country couldn't care less about the environment
Some people in this country couldn’t care less about the environment

The next step is to hand out a sheet of A4 paper to each pair. The sheet is folded in half 3 times, then unfolded, so that each sheet has 8 equally sized areas. Each pair then plays pictionary with their own stack of 8 sentences. To play, one player takes a slip of paper and reads the sentence (keeping it secret from their partner) and draws something to represent the sentence so that their partner can guess. Once their partner guesses correctly they swap roles. When they finish they’ll have a 8 drawings on the sheet of paper, each representing one of the sentences.

Their sentences may be very difficult to draw, especially since students aren’t aware they’ll have to draw them until this stage, so they haven’t been written with that in mind.  However, since they only have to guess between 8 possibilities the game isn’t too challenging. (This part is really fun as you have the absurd mix of almost impossible to draw sentences, causing some very strange and convoluted images, with very quick and accurate guessing).

Once all of the pairs have finished their game, they are all asked to pass their drawings and sentences clockwise. Now, each pair has to try and match the 8 sentences with the 8 drawings that other groups have made. Despite potentially complicated sentences and bizarre drawings, this part is very achievable and fun. The sentences and drawings get passed clockwise so that every group plays with every set. This is important as it means each group is exposed to the creative and memorable work of the whole class, as well as plenty of different uses of our 8 phrases.

It's important to take care of your teeth
It’s important to take care of your teeth

Once the drawings have made their way around the room but before they’re passed to their original creators, you take away all of the slips of paper that hold the sentences and you also wipe the 8 phrases off the board. Now, each pair gets their original drawings back and they are asked to recall and write down their 8 sentences next to each picture. This stage is very important as it requires students to remember the form and meaning of each lexical chunk. As you monitor you should only give subtle hints and reminders, so that students really focus on remembering the process they went through when they created the sentences and drew their drawings.

Finally, you hand the sentences back and students can check they are identical to their recollections, correcting any mistakes. You should make students aware of the cases where sentences have slight differences but have maintained their form and meaning.

Casualties during world war two were well cared for
Casualties during world war two were well cared for

I’ve played this game a number of times with a variety of levels. The lexical chunks have included: phrasal verbs; so as to, in order to, so that and idioms. I think a lot of different sets of lexical chunks could be adapted to this game and as I continue to experiment I’ll update the post with further examples.

Thanks for reading. If you have any feedback after trying this out please let me know. For more games click here to check out the archive.