Tomorrow is Friday, it’s the first week back from break, and you’re exhausted. What to do, what to do…

MovieTalk?” –you think– “No, too much standing and talking.”

Asking a story?” –but you dismiss it– “Too much standing and talking and energy used in general.”

“Picture Talk?” –now there’s an idea!– “No, too much using my voice.”

Embedded reading?” –surely, this is the one! But no– “Too much laying-your-head-down-on-the-book-and-falling-asleeping”.

The game you need when you are tired

You need ¡CATAPLÚN! …otherwise known as KABOOM! in English.

Cataplún is a a fast paced, student led game that is perfect for language classes. Students can work with sentences or questions in the target language, and the game can fill as much time as you need!

What is Cataplún?

CATAPLÚN is a small group game that is traditionally played with popsicle sticks. But let’s get real…you’re lucky if your department is supplying you with paper; forget about funds for popsicle sticks! Furthermore, popsicle sticks are most conducive to using single words or numbers. In language classes, ¡Cataplún! is most useful when we work with contextualized language: sentences and questions! Instead of popsicle sticks, I prefer to make ¡CATAPLÚN! cards out of paper. Click here to get my template!

How to play ¡Cataplún!

During game play, students take turns drawing a card.

On the card, there is either some kind of content that students must use to complete a task, or there is an explosion: ¡Cataplún!

If students demonstrate that they are able to complete the task, they keep the card. When they can’t complete the task, they return the card to the pile. If they draw an explosion card….¡Captaplún! All of their cards return to the pile.

How to win Cataplún

The player with the most cards in their hand at the end of the game wins!

What kinds of tasks can Cataplún be used with?

Here are some possible tasks that students can complete with content on ¡Cataplún! cards:

  • Translate a sentence from Spanish (target language) to English: See this example that includes sentences from the FREE Summer 2018 issue of El Mundo en tus Manos.
  • Translate a sentence from English to Spanish
  • Read a question in Spanish and respond in Spanish
  • Fill in a missing word
  • Choose between two or three words to correctly complete a sentence
  • Create an original sentence in Spanish using word(s) provided: See this example.
  • State whether a statement is true or false
  • Describe a word in Spanish (circumlocution)
  • Read a sentence and identify which piece of content it came from (which article, which book, which class story)
  • Describe a character
  • State whether you like or don’t like the thing listed on the card
  • Restate a sentence in a different tense or from a different perspective (horizontal conjugation)
  • Negate a statement
  • Describe or identify a picture
  • Conjugate a verb according to the subject given
  • Read a text-based question and identify its QAR type

The same set of cards can even be tasked differently for multiple uses. For example, if you have a set of sentences, you could play the game differently on different days:

  1. Translate from Spanish to English
  2. Horizontal Conjugation
  3. Write a sentence that could have come before or after (or, if students are looking at a text, write the sentence that DOES come before or after it)
  4. Negate it
  5. Write a question about it (or a question to elicit that sentence as the answer)

Truly, the possibilities are endless!

Setting up ¡Cataplún!

I recommend creating 36 cards (3 sheets of 12 cards). 30 cards should be content cards, and 6 or 9 cards should be ¡Cataplún! Explosion cards. Keep reading to find out what kinds of content should be on the content cards!

I cut apart the cards and then fold them in half along the diagonal so that they are easier to grab without looking!

To make it easy, I have created an editable set of Cataplún cards and added it to my materials for Editable Stations for language classes.

Want just the ¡Cataplún! template? Click here to get it now!

Cataplún is a a fast paced, student led game that is perfect for language classes. Students can work with sentences or questions in the target language, and the game can fill as much time as you need!

Click HERE to get the sample set of cards from articles in El Mundo en tus manos (Summer 2018) and HERE to get sample sentence building cards!

What about accountability?

You may decide to have each student keep a recording sheet on which they write down any tasks that they complete. This can serve as a formative assessment, allowing you to see the language that students are producing during the activity, even if you can’t be in all places at all times 😉

Favorite games?

What are your favorite games for language students that keep the input flowing without you having to provide it?

I first learned about Kaboom from Saddle Up for Second Grade, and I enjoy playing it with my own kids at home!

17 replies on “Cataplún/Kaboom! – Small group game for language classes

  1. Has anyone gotten around to translating this into French yet? I’d be happy to if you could share an editable file with me. Merci bien!

      1. Maybe using the write feature of quizlet? Instant right/wrong feedback via quizlet

  2. Thanks again, Martina, for another WONDERFUL game! I used this as a post-reading activity. I customized the cards to have comprehension questions of a reading we did in class. Then I made enough sets of the cards so students could play in groups of 3 or 4. Each set was a different color so that I could easily sort them afterwards. We took a very serious topic (the bombing of Guernica) and lightened it a bit by playing the game. It was so easy to customize the games that I will definitely do this with other lessons! Thanks!!!

    1. OH, I love this idea…would you be willing to share your Guernica cards with me? I do this with my kids and it gets so heavy….

  3. Hi there! What kind of time limit do you recommend setting for the game? How many minutes do you allow before calling time and having everyone count up their cards? Can’t wait to try this game!!!

    1. they can play it in 10 minutes or less–it really depends on how big your groups are and how many questions you have!

  4. Hi there – about how much time do you recommend allotting for this game? When do you call time for everyone to count up their cards? Can’t wait to try it out!

    1. They can play in 10 minutes or less–depends on how many cards you have and how many group members! let me know how it goes 🙂

Leave a Reply