Red Rover, All Over!

Level Aims Grammar Time Materials
elementary school To practice colour word recognition in a TPR environment. Colours 15 mins Students, a gymnasium (taikukan) or playing area.

Maybe you're familiar with this game from your own elementary school days, but if you aren't, don't worry. It is exceedingly simple to play, as are the majority of good activities for this level, and requires only a brief review of the colours you wish to use before commencing.

Divide your class into as many groups as there are colours you wish to target, or as many as numbers reasonably permit. I like to have between 4 - 8 students in each team, but this might not always be feasible. Assign each team a different colour, and check their understanding of it by asking for the Japanese translation. Kids like to be able to teach too, and as teaching in itself is a more than useful way of learning, why not encourage them to teach you? Even if you already know the answer?

Having named and checked all the teams, explain (by mime if necessary) that when you call a team's colour, that team must run from one side of the room to the other. If you tag any of them, they have to remain in the middle of the room with you to help you 'catch' the players of the next round. Have a huddle in the center with your helpers, and discuss which colour will be called next. If you decide to call, "Red Rover, all over!" all teams must dash from one side to the other. Naturally, this prevents you from having a 'Red' team, but this isn't a problem as 'red' is still targeted.

Eventually, most of the students are in the centre, and only a few remain untagged. These are your winners. They can remain in the center with you as 'catchers', while the other students form teams, if you wish to continue the activity.

Teaching Tip

Japanese students (and often teachers) are painfully shy. When talking to students who hang their heads, have difficulty answering, or giggle/laugh uncertainly, try crouching beside their desk so that your head is level with theirs. This makes you far less intimidating, and also has the effect of cutting out the rest of the class and making the conversation more private. This shyness will be particularly apparent for new ALTs; especially at lunchtime. Take heart, be patient, it gets better with time. However, such shyness is rarely applicable to elementary school students!

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