Oh boy is THIS ever a great game to play! It just came through the FLTeach listserv (so I apologize to those of you that are reading it here for the second time) from a teacher that signed his or her name as BHM. It is an AWESOME activity for the first days of school in upper-level classes, since it will allow them to review all kinds of vocabulary AND get to know each other a bit better.

Each student should write down several numbers that are important to him or her–I think that two or three numbers would be plenty for each student, especially in larger classes. The students must be careful to choose numbers for which they are able to articulate the reason as to why it is important to them. For example, I could say “3” because there are three people in my family (Hay tres personas en mi familia–how easy is that?!), or “1” because I believe that there is one true God, or “21” because my Grandma and I share a birthday on August 21, or “49” because I live in Alaska, the 49th state. The possibilities are endless!!

I see two different ways to use this activity: teacher-directed for comprehensible input, or student-directed for cooperative learning.

Teacher directed:

  1. Select the student: Have one of your students write ONE of his or her numbers on the board and sit in front of the class.
  2. Set the stage: Say (in L2), “Class, (Marie) has two special numbers!” (circle for lower levels to get reps of number vocabulary and the word “has”). One number is “23” and the other is “6”. (Again, circle to get reps of number vocab). The number “23” is special to Marie. What does the number “23” represent? (Or “What do you think that the number 23 represents?”).
  3. Determine the “truth”: Accept student guesses, and after each one, ask the original student whether or not it’s true. For example, “Marie, do you have two dogs?” When she says no, repeat “Class, Marie does not have two dogs. The number 2 does not represent the number of dogs that Marie has.” Once the truth has been uncovered (or an acceptable alternate reality has been created and developed), pick a new student and begin all over again! What fun, what fun!


  1. Create a prop: With most cooperative learning structures, it is helpful for students to have props. For this activity, all they need is a paper with their special numbers written on it.
  2. Give directions: Explain the structure that you will use to students. You could do a simple hand up/stand up/pair up structure  inside/outside circles. Whichever structure you choose, make sure you explain the directions clearly! Always designate which partner will be asking and which will be answering (for example, the partner in the inside circle should ask questions to determine what the special numbers of  their outside circle partner mean).
  3. Communicate: “Release the Cracken!” and set your students to work. Your students should be in pairs or small groups speaking in Spanish only to figure out the secret meaning of all of the numbers.

You could also do this as a group activity. I would strongly recommend having one student in the group act as a secretary to keep a log of the conversations that took place in the group. It could look something like this:

The names of all of the students in the group are at the top of the page, and each set of guesses is numbered and begins with one of the students and his or her important number. Then, all of the questions that are asked are recorded along with the name of the student that asked them. The correct answer is starred.

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