#127 The Paper-Wrapped Surprise Game

Published on July 3, 2008

English Teachers in Russia & Elsewhere #127


=> The Paper-Wrapped Surprise Game
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The Paper-Wrapped Surprise Game

This game was explained to me — in English — by 10-year-old Dana Yastremskaya of Minsk, Belarus. Thanks, Dana. (Oh, incidentally, you can hear a recording of Dana’s song “The Bee” at ETsEverywhere.com.)

Here is what you do. Take an object. It can be a toy, a ball, or a candy bar. This will be called the “Surprise.”

The teacher then wraps a piece of paper around this. It can be a piece of scratch paper, newspaper, whatever. Around that, wrap another piece of paper. Keep doing this until there are ten or fifteen layers of paper around the Surprise.

The game is rather like musical chairs. Students stand in a circle. They pass the Paper-Wrapped Surprise around between them.

The teacher plays music. Then she abruptly stops the music. Whoever is holding the Paper-Wrapped Surprise at that moment unwraps the outer piece of paper. (You don’t have to play music. An egg timer works great too).

The student who removes the last piece of paper wins the Surprise.

Adding Language Tasks
Okay, you have noticed that the Paper-Wrapped Surprise Game is not much of a language task. Well, at least you can introduce appropriate English words: words like “wrap,” unwrap,” “prize,” and “surprise.”

But we can do more. Let’s add a task each time a student unwraps a piece of paper.

One way to do this is to give each student a piece of paper BEFORE the game is played and ask them to write, say, a personal opinion question (“What is your favorite kind of ice cream?”), or a time question (What time you get home from school/work every day?). Just give students some guidance with their questions so that they don’t all ask the same thing.

So, in this version of the game, the student who unwraps the paper, looks at it, and directs that question to someone else in the group. Now, we have some speaking involved at every step of the game (and writing practice beforehand).

If that sounds too simple for your adult class. Make the task more challenging. Try a “Name Three Things” task, where, on each paper, is written something like “Name Three Things People Do at a Wedding,” or “Name Three Things You Would do if you were in Tokyo.” (This will increase the amount of spoken language in the task.).

The kinds of tasks that can be done at each stage of paper unwrapping are virtually unlimited.

NOTE: It will probably help if you use smaller pieces of paper closer to the Surprise, and bigger pieces toward the outside. (Actually, I’ve never played this game before, so write to me if you try it: kevin at kevinmccaughey.com)

In the Next Issues

Sale of Alaska text?

Copyright 2008 Kevin McCaughey & I.M. Poosheesty.

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