Karuta Spell Game (ES)
ALT: Lacey Lee
Class/Grade/Language Level: ES, Grades 5 or 6
Textbook and specific lesson: spelling and alphabet practice
Goal: introduce your students to spelling in English, allowing them to connect English letters with their phonetic functions.
Preparation: textbooks (or letters of the alphabet), scissors (if the students do not have their own).
Class time: 20 minutes (?)
This game is an adaptation of the often relied-upon Karuta game and is a clever way to introduce your students to spelling in English, allowing them to connect English letters with their phonetic functions. It’s a refreshing challenge in the classroom, and even better if you can get your JTE on board to be really supportive, perhaps prodding students in the right direction, while walking among the students as they work. So basically you have the students cut the letter cards out of the back of the book and ask them to form groups. Then you’ll ask the students to only keep 2 sets of the cards and spread them out across their desks. You will then explain to them that you will say one English word, for example, dog (because they are just starting out), and as a group they will do their best to spell the word with the cards they have on the desk. You may get a mixed reaction at first, but if you keep score and give a point to the group able to do it the fastest! Also, definitely give the kids the very important hint of how many letters are in the word to help guide their spelling. Do tell them it’s a challenge and reinforce it’s okay to make mistakes! This is why it’s great to have the JTE on board with supportive phrases, and have them going around with you and helping groups that are struggling. If you keep score, the kids get really competitive and into it! So I suggest doing that. But no winners or losers: everyone gets stickers after class! I did this with 5th graders in connection to the “What do you want?” chapter, when they’re supposed to first be learning capital letters. This game can be carried to 6th grade as well, adapting the vocab list for skill level. Some words that have higher levels of success are words like pink, which have katakana that is very similar to English. Example words: dog, cat, lemon, pink, red, melon, bat, sun… stick to vocabulary found in the book if you can and keep it short unless they are catching on really quickly, then challenge!