The Bomb Game

This game is kind of a twist on Jeopardy. To start, divide the class into teams (3 or 4 teams is better than 2) and invite the first team to choose a number (if using a PowerPoint) or a card. Each number or card corresponds to a question which the team must then answer.  Questions can be anything you want, but one idea is to simply have sentences that the students must translate.  Each question is worth 5, 10 or 20 points and the difficulty of the questions should vary depending on how many points it is worth. It’s up to you to decide whether a question can be passed to the next team if the first team is unable to answer. Either a bomb or a star is chosen randomly and revealed to the team only if they get the answer right. If it is a bomb, they can take the points away from another team, and if it is a star they get the points added to their own score.

You can download the PowerPoint file Diane Volzer uses with her classes here.

Source: Diane Volzer, moreTPRS


A story retell can be done at any point during a story and it has several purposes. It not only gives the teacher a break from providing input, but it also gives the students more processing time and lets them have a little bit of a break. By listening to the students retell the story, it is also easier to see where they are struggling. It is a great comprehension check too, as they have to be able to really understand the story to retell it. Some ideas for retells are:

  • students simply take turns retelling the story to a partner
  • one partner gets a copy of the written story and the other student retells as much of the story as possible without looking (if they do get into trouble, the partner can then prompt them with the next part of the story)
  • everyone tells the story to their hand all at the same time
  • the class dictates the story to the teacher

Source: Michele Whaley, moreTPRS


This is a basic counting game to practice numbers. All the students stand up and you start them counting, following around the rows in order. When a student has the number 7 or a multiple of 7 or a number with a 7 in it, they have to say Napoleon instead of saying their number. If they mess up and say the number, they have to sit down. If they mess up and say Napoleon when they should have said a number, they sit down. Last few standing are winners (set a specific number like last 3 standing). The game can be changed to use a different number and its multiples. Nancy Wellington also suggested that if you have a larger class, it works better if you split the kids into two circles, then when someone gets “out”, they go into the other circle. It lets kids know that they can’t just goof off if they make a mistake (real or on purpose!)

You can take the game one step further by having the two circles compete against each another to get the highest count.   When someone missed a number, their circle has to start over, so the motivation is self-reinforcing.  The person that misses goes to the next circle and can be absorbed without that circle starting over again–so someone can be a “loser” in one circle, but still contribute and help the next circle to win.  No one is sitting out, the peer pressure keeps them all trying, and the winning groups are proud.

Source: Deb Read & Bryce Hedstrom, moreTPRS

Maintaining Interest

Blaine Ray says that using interesting details keeps students’ attention. We all know this – the question is, how do we do it? Blaine suggests using things like Facebook, Craigslist and eBay in stories. He also says that specificity is key, so try to describe characters and their situations in detail. For example, instead of just saying a character in a story is “poor”, decide how much money exactly the character has – $0.03 or $3 million? Or if a student in the story smells like a hippo, find out why (because his roommate is a hippo). Dramatizing and making students feel good about themselves will also help you to hold their attention.

Ways to Get Points

There are many ways that students can earn points with the PAT system. Basically they can get them by doing anything that is conducive to learning. Some ideas include:

  • 1 minute: all students are on time
  • 1 minute: all students are prepared
  • 1 minute: all students are quiet while attendance is taken and absent students are caught up
  • 2 minutes: students use a set number of rejoinders
  • 3 minute: no off-task English during class
  • 1 minute: ‘wowing’ the teacher (ie. giving a cute answer, being on-task, etc.)
  • 1 minute: stumping the teacher (ie. catching a spelling/accent/translation mistake)
Source: Bryce Hedstrom, moreTPRS