Playing input-focused games in class can be a great way to boost student motivation, and Arcoíris, or ‘Rainbow’, is a game that you’ll be excited to add to your repertoire for the coming school year. Arcoíris is a simple group game in which group mates are competing against each other to earn the most cards from a shared deck. Earning the cards takes a combination of luck and knowledge, giving all students in the group a great shot at winning.

Blue text on rainbow background: Arcoíris a dice game for language classes

Learn to play Arcoíris

Nelly Hughes is the mastermind behind Arcoíris, and she developed the game as a spin off of the game Sixes, which she learned from Todally Awesome Keith Toda. Read Keith’s post about the Latin version of the game here!

Just as you can play Sixes with various tasks, so can you create different tasks for students to complete as they play Arcoíris. If you choose your task well, this game will provide your students with an opportunity to interpret sentences that are written in the target language. 

Create your Arcoíris game

First, you’ll need to create the materials for the game. This can be REALLY simple! You’ll be creating 12-16 game cards and a worksheet with 12-16 boxes, one that corresponds to each of the cards. Here are some ideas:

Game CardsStudent worksheet
ImagesImage descriptions written in the Target Language
Sentences in the Target LanguageSentences translated into L1
First halves of sentencesSecond halves of sentences
CausesEffects
Names of characters or peopleDescriptions of characters or people
Sentences written in the past tenseSentences written in the present tense
A student worksheet with sentences in spanish, game cards that contain images matching the sentence descriptions, and color dot dice

In this image, you can see our sample set: each game card contains an image, and the student worksheet contains descriptions for all possible images.

To make things super simple, we’re sharing the template that we used to create our sample set!

Set up Arcoíris

In this game, students will be playing in groups of 3-4 students. You will need to prepare the following materials:

  • 1 set of 12 game cards per group
  • 1 worksheet per student (Note: you can reuse these in different class periods; you may want to laminate them if you plan to do this!)
  • 1 rainbow Color Dot die per group

Okay, okay – it’s totally possible to play this game without Color Dot Dice. But where’s the fun in that? One set of Color Dot Dice will likely work for your entire class (the set that I purchased includes 12 dice which is enough for up to 48 students), and we are giving away TWO sets of Color Dot Dice so that you don’t have to make the purchase yourself. 

Giveaway ends Friday July 16, 2021 at 11:59pm EDT

How to play

  1. Cut up the game cards and distribute one set to each group. 
  2. Each group should sit on the floor or at a group of desks with the cards placed in the middle, face up.
  3. Each person in the group must choose a color of the die. If you are playing with a numbered die, every person in the group must choose a different number. It is important that the groups consist of NO MORE THAN four members so that there are always two colors (or numbers) that are not assigned to any player.
  4. The first player throws the die. Based on the color they roll, one of three things can happen:
    • If it lands on their own color, they get to take an illustrated card from the center pile. The player then scans their worksheet and determines which sentence describes the image on the card. They read aloud the sentence, and all group members confer to determine whether or not they read aloud the sentence that describes the card in their hand. If they picked the correct sentence, they keep the card. If they read the wrong sentence, they place the card back in the center, at the bottom of the pile. 
    • If it lands on the color (or number) of another person in their group, they pass the die to the right. No one takes a card! The next player takes the die and tries to roll their own color, thereby earning the opportunity to earn a card.
    • If the die lands on one of the colors is not assigned to any player, the first student that yells “ARCOÍRIS” (Rainbow!) gets to take the die and roll next. They do not automatically win a card; they get the chance to win a card by rolling the die and hopefully landing on their own color.
  5. The student who has the most cards at the end wins!

If you’d like to give Arcoíris a try, download our free sample set of game cards here. The cards are in Spanish and work with the vocabulary “says” and “this is” (from Somos 1 Unit 1), and the student worksheet is editable so that you can easily translate it and play with the language that you teach. 

Want more?

Nelly and I included an Arcoíris game in our newest collaborative resource, El ratoncito Pérez! We wrote a fictitious story featuring the Ratón de los dientes for Somos 2 Unit 6 Flex, and we wanted to provide teachers with materials for their students to learn more about this special tradition. Purchase the Ratoncito Pérez reading and activities (including an Arcoíris game!) here.

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