Today we had great fun with a game, and I thought you might like to try it!

At our school, all the kids know the game “Ships and Sailors.”  They play it at EVERY pep rally. Have you ever heard of it? Here is a video in case you don’t know what it is:

It’s one of those games were someone calls out something like “SHIPS!” and the group does a particular movement, pose, or gesture. For most of the commands, you are forced to get into groups of two, three, four, or five, and anyone left out is, well, out.

So, let me take you back to Sunday (my planning day) when I was trying to think of a quick way to get all students acting out parts of our class story all at the same time. I really don’t like spending time building skits to perform one group at a time in front of the class. Then it dawned on me: Ships and Sailors!

Now keep in mind, our story has nothing to do with ships or sailors, I just named our game “Barcos y Marineros” so that my students would quickly understand the idea.

Here is what you need to play “Barcos y Marineros”:

  • A sheet of paper with scenes typed in the target language, all jumbled up, and a number at the end of each scene. This number tells the students how many “actors” you need for that scene.
  • A small whiteboard (or laminated piece of paper) with an erasable marker and an eraser.

    And that’s it!

    Here is an example of the sheet of paper that I gave my students today (although this is a random nonsense story to save myself from copyright infringement- thanks to Carol Gaab and Kristy Placido for the original story we were using in our class today! I love Cuéntame Mucho!)
    Screen Shot 2016-02-18 at 4.54.08 PM







Gameplay for Barcos y Marineros:
First of all, this takes place after a few days of storytelling and then is based on a reading that is similar to the story you created together. So start by letting your students read over the sheet to familiarize themselves with the story. Tell them to think about how they can act out the scenes.

Next, have them all stand up and push the chairs out of the way. Explain that you will write (secretly) the number of a scene (located in the top right of the boxes above), and when you hold up the number, they have to act out that scene in a group the size of the number in parenthesis (that’s the bottom number in each box above).

Just to clarify:
1. You write the number of the scene.
2. You hold up the number of the scene.
3. Students find the scene on their paper.
4. Students scramble to find the appropriate number of people for the scene.
5. Students make gestures/movements to “act out” the scene.

1. Anyone without a group is out.
2. When the number of the group is “1,” the LAST person to begin “acting” is out.
3. To determine the winner of a tie at the end of the game, the class picks the best actor or actress for a scene that the teacher calls out.

Maybe sometime soon I can get someone to video this hilarious chaos to help you understand out to play!


Have the students grab a scrap piece of paper and order the scenes. Then, have them refer to their story to see if it is correct.

I could also see this as a great TPR activity for teaching target structures!


Have you ever tried a game like Ships and Sailors in your class?


Buena suerte,

Profe C.