When I am working in Latin America, I keep my eyes open for authentic games I can use in my classroom. A group of students in Nicaragua recently introduced me to a Spanish question game called El Repollo.
Repollo is cabbage, and to play the game you make a paper ball, a cabbage, with questions on each of the “leaves.” If you use the Spanish word col for cabbage, you can change the name of this Spanish question game to La Col.
I love the game El Repollo because it can be adapted to any topic or level. With preschoolers, you can use pictures instead of writing questions. With older students, you can make questions relate to a story or any content they are learning. This game is active, hands-on and fun. It’s a perfect combination of play and content.
If you are looking for more authentic games, Basta is another game I play with my students. Try these printable versions of Basta for Spanish learners. You can find a set of traditional games that require less language here, and 12 traditional games with more Spanish language content here.
How to Play the Spanish Question Game
To play this Spanish question game, students pass el repollo around a circle, similar to Hot Potato. First, you make el repollo from pieces of paper with a question on each one. See the specific instructions below.
Then, tap on a desk as students pass the ball around the circle. Tap with a pencil or coin to make a sharper, louder sound. When you stop tapping, the student holding the ball peels the outer “leaf” off the cabbage and answers the question on that piece of paper.
Next, start tapping again. Again, the ball moves around the circle until you stop. Play continues this way until you reach the last question at the center of the cabbage. Tap louder and faster to encourage students to pass the ball faster. Of course, you can use music too, pausing it for students to answer.
Making El Repollo
Making the cabbage students pass around the circle is easy. Tear off a small piece of paper, a quarter or half sheet, and write a question on it. Use this as the question as the center of the cabbage. Remember, this will be the last question students answer. So, if the order of the questions matters, you may want to write all the questions on the “leaves” and then assemble the ball.
Crush the paper with the first question into a small ball. Next, put a piece of paper with another question around that ball and press it together. Keep adding “leaves” with questions, molding and shaping el repollo as you go. Use larger pieces of paper as the ball gets bigger.
The questions in this repollo were based on the story El río dormido.
Types of Questions for El Repollo
You can use any type of questions on the leaves of the cabbage. For example,
- Use information questions related to a topic or a story.
- Students can define a vocabulary word, or give an antonym or synonym.
- Ask students to act out answers by writing “Imita…” and mentioning something from a story or a vocabulary word.
- Write digits on the leaves for practice saying numbers.
- Use clock faces to practice saying time.
- Write personal questions for students to answer about their families, experiences and preferences.
- Practice reading, letter sounds and pronunciation by having students read a word and identify how many syllables it has. Use familiar vocabulary for this kind of question.
- Tell a short, easy story, sentence by sentence.
- To practice verb conjugation, write sentences leaving the verb in the infinitive. Students conjugate the verb. Relate the sentences to tell a short story.
- Students contribute questions related to the content they are learning.
Adapting the Spanish Question Game for Pre-Readers
You can adapt this Spanish question game for pre-readers by using pictures. To do this, print the paper with clip art or use stickers.
Here are a few ideas:
- Use pictures of familiar words related to a theme such as animals, shapes or food for students to identify.
- Focus on counting and hay by putting several pictures on each leaf. Ask ¿Cuántos hay?
- Practice emotions by identifying and acting out the emotion represented by a emoticon. Ask ¿Cómo se siente?
- Use colored dot stickers to practice colors and numbers.
Here is a repollo for practicing numbers, animals and the verb form hay. When students peel off the leave they count the animals and say, for example, “Hay cinco caballos.”
I’m sure you will think of other ways to incorporate El Repollo into your class. If you are using written questions, this Spanish question game is quick and easy to make. It is low-prep even if you print the leaves with clip art or use stickers. Best of all, it can be adapted to any content. Please let us in the comments know how you use this game in your class or with your family.