Game in Japanese

The Gokiburi Game!

Target Grade: All
Target English: Any Conversation


Gokiburi means "cockroach", but if you use the Japanese word as you get a reaction from just the sound it. This is the main game that featured in our NHK TV documentary.


First of all introduce some new conversation piece, for example "My name is.....", "How are you?" or anything you like really.


1. Draw on the board an "evolution scale"

2. Everybody starts at the bottom of the scale, i.e. a Gokiburi. Gokiburi crawl about on the floor, hence the kids have to do the same.

3. The kids form into pairs of 2 gokiburi.


4. They practice today's conversation piece.
For example,
"Hello. How are you?"
"I'm OK/Hot/Hungry/Tired etc. How are you?"
"I'm OK/Hot/Hungry/Tired etc."


5. When they've finished their conversation they "Janken". The best way to do this is in English, try the "Rock, paper, scissors" song from CD vol. IV

6. The winner then moves up one step on the "Evolution Scale" (i.e. gokiburi become snakes, snakes become rabbits etc.). The loser moves down on place (e.g. Peacocks become rabbits, monkeys become penguins etc.) Of course Gokiburi can't fall any lower!

7. They then find a partner that is the same animal as they have become. (i.e. a monkey does the conversation with another monkey, a rabbit with a rabbit etc. but a snake with, say, a rabbit is not allowed!)

8. With their new partner they repeat steps 4,5 and 6 until they reach "Human". "Humans" have to practice the conversation and the janken with the teacher. If they win they then become "god", have won the game and can sit down!!



The kids play this game in Japanese in kindergarten so are familiar with it. It allows the teacher to practice individually with the kids and for the kids to get lots of practice with their friends. The only thing to watch out for is cheating - make sure they do the conversation and not just the janken! Also if they speak Japanese then demote them down one step!

Also, let the kids choose their own animals to evolve into, hence the "not-quite-correct" evolution scale above.

Gokiburi Game in Video

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Here's a video of the game in action. You can see how chaotic it can become, and also how you have to make sure the kids understand the rules and the English well, otherwise it just descends into a noise fest!




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