In Spanish, this game is a comecocos or a sacapiojos. In English, it is called a cootie-catcher, a chatterbox or a fortune teller. This is an excellent language activity and it can be adapted in lots of different ways to use with Spanish language learners. It involves folding paper to make a toy that fits over your fingers and opens and closes. A friend chooses a series of pictures or words to arrive at the answer to a question. Comecocos is also the Spanish name for the 80s video game Pac-man, so if you want to search for this paper game, search comecocos de papel.
If you are not familiar with this game, you can get an idea of how it works from this video: Spanish game
Traditionally, a comecocos is a kind of fortune-teller, with the final answer being a prediction. For Spanish language learners, you can make the comecocos so kids arrive at a question to answer, an action to do, an adjective that describes them, their favorite food, or other vocabulary that you want to practice.
When I use a comecocos with Spanish language learners, instead of having kids spell words, I have them say the words in syllables and usually as part of a phrase. For example, if the first choice is of a color, and the friend chooses rojo, the child with the comecocos opens and closes it twice, as she says aloud ro-jo, or for each syllable as she says the phrase El color es rojo. Kids like the phrases because they get to open and close the comecocos more. You can use phrases like El número es… and El animal es…, depending on the comecocos.
With any comecocos, you will want to be sure the player with the toy knows how to ask the other player which color, number or animal she chooses. Teach the question ¿Cuál quieres? or ¿Cuál escojes? if the kids do not know it. They can also say Escoje uno (Choose one.).
Printable Spanish game – Comecocos
Here are a few of my comecocos to print and use with Spanish language learners. You can easily make your own by writing in words, adding drawings and using stickers. I have included a blank comecocos. There are instructions for folding these below the PDFs, but you can also just fold them without a pattern. Links to useful sites with more instructions and ideas follow my materials.
Spanish game – Los animales: A comecocos with numbers and animals. The final choice reveals a question about what sound an animal makes: ¿Cómo hace un perro? This is a simple way for kids to practice animal vocabulary.
Spanish game – Preguntas: A comecocos with colors and numbers. The final choice reveals a personal information question to answer, such as ¿Cuántos hermanos tienes?
Spanish game – ¿Cómo eres?: A comecocos with colors and numbers. The final choice reveals an adjective that describes the player such as paciente, fuerte, amable.
Spanish game – La Navidad: A comecocos with Christmas vocabulary and numbers. The final choice reveals a picture of what the player will get for Christmas.
A blank comecocos. Write or draw whatever you like. Stickers work well too.
Printable instructions for the Spanish game, comecocos.
Instructions for folding the Spanish game – Comecocos
1. Cut out the comecocos.
2. With the printed side up, fold in half to get a rectangle. Fold that rectangle in half to get a square.
3. Open the comecocos completely, place the printed side down on the table, and fold each corner into the center (the point of the corner will touch the middle). You will have a square.
4. Flip over the comecocos (the corners you just folded in will be against the table). Again fold in each corner so the point touches the center.
5. Flip over again and fold in half to crease, unfold and then fold in half the other way to crease. Unfold. You should end up with a square with little pockets at each corner.
6. Fold in half with the pockets on the outside. Hold the comecocos so the openings of the pockets are down. Put the thumb and index finger from one hand into the pockets on one side. Put the other thumb and index finger into the other two pockets. Pinch your index fingers and thumbs together.
Useful links for using this Spanish game:
– Another set of instructions to make this Spanish game.
– Another set of instructions from PBS.
– An online form for making your own Spanish folded paper game. The outside squares are characters from the PBS show Arthur, but they are each associated with a color. The second level has numbers. You type in the final phrases. You may have to write in accent marks. I couldn’t get them to work on my Mac.
– Spanish instructions for making this game.
– A pretty printable Spanish comecocos with the planets on the inside. There is information (in Spanish) about how the students use this Spanish game to choose which planet to study.
– Instructions and additional game ideas. There are a few printable patterns, one with only shapes and colors that would work in Spanish.
– Spanish video showing how to fold this game. There are lots of videos in English on YouTube if you search “cootie-catcher”.