The Original Game
is an age old, Japanese nursery school
game that can easily be adapted to older age groups as well as adults
. Elementary school kids will literarily throw themselves against walls with joy
when they hear that they are about to play a round of karuta
. Adults enjoy having a bit of childish fun when enduring the stress
of learning a foreign language
and even teenage students sometimes forget how cool
they are and get into it.
In pure form, karuta is played with Japanese children when they are learning hiragana or katakana. Students sit in groups of three to six. Each group is given a set of cards, each one with a different letter of the syllabary. The teacher calls out a letter and the students grab the corresponding card. The first one to find it, keeps the card. When all the letters have been called, each student counts how many they have, and the student with the most cards is the winner. I recently played this game with a class of grade ones and I have never witnessed such fierce competition among children, all in good fun of course.
English Language Variations
The simplest variation of this game into English
is to use alphabet cards. This game is da bomb
with students learning the alphabet
in elementary school. You can play a game with lower case
letters and follow it up in subsequent lessons with upper case
letters. It is important that your letters be on laminated
cards, for in the excitement of the race, kids tend to fight over letters and anything not properly protected will be destroyed.
To make the game more difficult for higher level and older students read out a word
instead of calling out individual letters. Students have to listen
carefully for the first letter of the word and then find it. For even more advanced students and adult classes, you can read entire sentences.
For students who already know the alphabet quite well, a round of karuta
is going to be insultingly easy, but the concept
can still be used to test listening
skills. Instead of handing out alphabet cards, hand out cards with new vocabulary
. You can either read the words individually or in sentences.
is a great way to test
verb tense comprehension. Make a series of cards with verbs that the students are familiar with in their dictionary forms. Rather then reading out the verb as it appears on the card, read it out in its past tense
or its participle
form. This way, students have to think fast to make the connection between the two. Again, for more advanced students, you can read sentences with the verbs in them.