Giant Snakes and Ladders

by Neil Maher

Level: All grades from Elem to JHS 3rd grade.
Time: As long as you want or an entire class.

This is basically a big review game based on snakes and ladders.

1. Draw up a giant board. I drew a grid of 64 squares on a large sheet of graph paper (about 1 meter x 1 meter). Square number one is the start square and square number 64 is the end square.

2. Colur the squares 4 different colours.
Green = Easy questions
Yellow = medium questions
Red = Difficult questions
Purple = Very Difficult questions.
Most of the difficult squares appear near the end of the board.

3. Draw and colour the snakes and ladders on pieces of card and cut them to size. I have about 8 snakes and 8 ladders of different sizes. Then put magnets on the backs of the pieces. This way you can make the game more difficult or easier depending on the ability of the class by simply sticking the pieces wherever you want.

4. Draw some team playing pieces on some card, colour them in and cut them out. Also put magnets on the back so they can be moved around the game board.

5. After that all you need is a big dice and a bell (both from the hundred yen store). The bell adds a great deal of tension and excitement, but if you haven't got a bell just waving your hand in the air like a clock counting down does the same job.

6. Put your flash cards in three piles (a green pile, a yellow pile etc.) according to their difficulty. Then when a team lands on a green square show them a flash card from the green pile. The very difficult questions I had no flash cards for. Instead I asked them phrase questions that they had learnt such as "What time is it?, What day is it today?, How old are you?" etc. Answers had to be in a sentence for everything such as "it's a...".

7. You can make up your own rules for the game. If a team got a question wrong I moved them back one square. If they had gone up a ladder I asked them a question at the top of the ladder and if they got it wrong they went down the ladder. If they landed on a snake's head they were safe unless they got the question wrong, then down the snake.

My kids in all grades in Elementary School and Junior High School had a great time with this game and got really genki and noisy. I made the JHS make sentences about the flash card rather than tell me what it was. With the time pressure element you can get some mad answers like "today is a strawberry". It takes a little preparation but once it is ready it is only a matter of walking into the classroom and sticking it on the board and best of all it can take up the whole class.

(C) Copyright 2002 Neil Maher

Do you have a great original game? Take some pictures, write it up and if it's good enough you might get the fame and glory of having it appear on Genki English!! : )

Readers' Comments

This is an awesome variation to the game. I intend on using it for my swimming class and can see how it would work and be great fun!!


Readers' Comments

by Kris Line

  This game worked really well, but with older kids (from grade 5 and up), I find the teams that aren't currently answering a question, don't pay attention, talk among themselves or just look bored. So I have made up smaller versions on A3 size paper (created on excel) for each team to play their own game. Also to make the game more learner-centred, I get the kids to make up their own questions. Together we choose different topics or question types we've studied that we want to review for each colour and then during the game the kids think of their own questions. They also place their own snakes and ladders on the game. They love this. All the kids get involved, asking and answering questions and are using tons of English without even realizing it!!

Readers' Comments

It worked. Thank you.


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