Converting English games into Anatomy Activities

In the English classroom we all have some go-to games that are helpful for reviewing all types of new vocabulary and information. A golden rule in the second-language community is to teach no more than 7-10 new words in any given class. As a TEFL volunteer preparing a charla on the reproductive system for 5th and 6thgrade girls, I was struck by how much vocabulary is involved and how little practice I had originally planned into the session.
 
In light of that, here are 3 games I easily adapted to help the participants (girls ages 10-13 in this case) become more familiar with the new information about their bodies:
 
1. Busca el (los) órgano(s) que…
This activity is adapted from the common game “Find the person who…”  and is a good follow-up to the presentation of different organs and their functions. It gives the participants a chance to actively investigate and review the positions and functions of different body parts.

Preparation: Bring a papelógrafo like the example below with different descriptions of organ functions. You can focus on only the male or female system, or you can include all and color-code the writing to help participants find the correct organ.
Have either a list of organs and their functions or labeled diagrams that participants can use to find the information. I had three half papelógrafos (male, female internal and female external) with word cards taped to the board next to the organ they corresponded with. Cards could be flipped up to read an explanation of the organ on the back.
Blue-male, Green-female external, Purple-female internal 
Blue-male, Green-female external, Purple-female internal
 Directions for play: Divide participants into groups of 2 or 3. Each pair or small group has a sheet of paper where they will write their answers. Explain that they should read the descriptions and write the name of the organ described. Make it a competition to see who can find all the answers first (and give candies for motivation). Participants then race to find the correct responses.
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2. Fly-swatter
Fly-swatter (also known as ‘run to the board’) is an active and exciting way to review the names of different parts of the reproductive system and to evaluate how well participants remember the information.
 
Preparation: Post papelógrafos on the wall of diagrams for the reproductive systems you wish to review. The diagrams should NOT be labeled. Make sure to tape them well as participants will be hitting them throughout the game.
 
Directions for play: Divide the group into two equal teams; each team forms a line one behind the other, facing the papelógrafos. The facilitator calls out the name of the organ and the first person on each team runs to the board to ‘slap’ the organ. The first person to correctly identify the organ wins a point. The two participants that ran to the board go to the back of the line and the facilitator calls out another term for the next two in line.
Continue calling out terms and keeping points until you run out of vocabulary or until the participants tire of the game.
3. Tic-Tac-Toe
This is great a final activity since participants are required to produce the new information and explain how different parts of the reproductive system work.
 
Preparation: For this game you will need a whiteboard and whiteboard markers. Draw a 3 x 3 tic-tac-toe board and write a different reproductive organ in each square.
 
Directions for play: Divide the group into two teams—one is X and the other O. Explain that to win a square, the team must describe what role an organ plays in the reproductive system. Flip a coin to decide who goes first. Have teams take turns describing the organs and winning a square for their team until one team wins by having three in a row, in a column, or in a diagonal across the board.
Depending on how much vocabulary you have taught, you can make the game more interesting by drawing a 4 x 4 board. Once a team has won, erase the words and fill the board again with new words or the same words in a different order and play again!
The Yo Merezco manual outlines a ‘carrera de anatomía’ where each team has a set of cards with the names of the reproductive organs. One member from each team approaches the facilitator who quietly reads the function of an organ to them. Participants then race back to their team, find the card with the right organ name, and race back to the facilitator. The first person who arrives with the correct response wins a point for their team.
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Another way to review would be playing an adaptation of memory, having participants match names and functions or names and drawings. Even better—have the participants prepare the memory game in the session and then play with their friends.
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Possibilities are endless, let the learning begin!
–Alba, TEFL 60, Madriz
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