Italian Twister for Kids

23 May 2019

Italian Twister – Game for Kids (ages 3 and up)

This week, I played a version of Italian Twister with my class at The Priory School and wanted to share it with you. It’s a fun and easy way to bring Italian into your homes with your little ones. Those of you subscribed to our podcast might recognize it — I’ve proposed it before, in a different iteration, as part of the worksheets accompanying Italia a portata di mano Episode 3 (I like it? AILAICHIT). Why propose it again? Because it’s such a fun and effective way to consolidate at least two different vocabulary sets, one of which will always correspond to parts of the body (as in the original Twister), and the other of which can change depending on the lesson at hand. We used it at The Priory to get our colours and shapes down pat, but it can just as easily be used with food, clothes, or household and classroom objects. Added bonus: practicing both prepositions and the matching of nouns (shapes) with adjectives (colours) in gender and in number (triangolo rosso (m, sg), but freccia rossa (f, sg)). Ready to begin? Let’s go!

You will need:
2 – 4 sets of 5″ x 7″ full-colour flashcards (shapes of different colours)
1 set of 2″ x 3″ flashcard cutouts (shapes) — images only
1 set of 2″ x 3″ flashcard cutouts (body parts) — images only
2 opaque bags / hats / tube socks
1 coin

1 referee
up to 4 actors

How to play:
Set up the 5″ x 7″ flashcards face up on the floor in any arrangement you like, preferably respecting the basic square form. Secure them with tape or sticky tacky so they don’t slide around.
2. Fold the body parts 2″ x 3″ flashcard cutouts in half and place them in a bag/ sock/ hat (anything that will prevent the referee who will have to dig in and pull one out from seeing or being able to intuit the content on the card). Do the same with the shapes (or other vocabulary set) 2″ x 3″ flashcard cutouts, placing them in a separate bag/ sock/ hat.
3. Place a coin between the two bags.
4. The actors take position at opposite ends of the playing space delineated by the flashcards lined up on the floor. Up to (but no more than) 4 actors can play at once: one per side. I actually had my students do the actions one by one, so I could better verify their comprehension, but it can be more fun to add the competitive factor to the mix.
5. The referee reaches into the first bag (containing the body parts mini-flashcards) and pulls one out. S/he repeats the action with the second bag (containing the shapes). If the body part selected comes in a set of two (hands, feet, legs, arms, ears, eyes, etc.), the referee will need to do one last action before giving the command: s/he will flip the coin to determine which side of the body should be used — tails for left, heads for right. Then, putting together the various elements chosen, s/he will give the command: mano destra sul triangolo verde; piede sinistro sul cerchio blu; capelli sulla freccia bianca, etc. More advanced groups can practice using the imperative form of verbs at the same time: METTI (or METTETE) la mano destra sul triangolo verde; TOCCA (or TOCCATE) il cerchio blu con il piede sinistro.
6. The actors must then follow the command. They all stay in the game until one (or more) of them makes a mistake, is unable to follow the command, or loses their balance. At that point, the fallen actor will swap places with the referee.

Teacher’s tips:
1. Keep a full set of flashcards (those including the word on the back) nearby in case your students forget the vocabulary they are meant to be practicing (which happens a lot). That way, you can show them the written word as a last resort and have them read it aloud rather than simply repeat what you say without further processing the information.
2. Have students create their own flashcards rather than using a pre-made set. That way, they are reflecting on the vocabulary to be practiced through the very act of drawing the image and writing the associated word. It also gives students a bigger incentive to play: every student will want to touch the red triangle or blue circle that s/he drew!

To purchase a complete set of 3E’s Level A flashcards, visit our online store on Facebook.