- Keywords: Plasticine, creativity, sculpting, vocabulary review
- Learner English level: Low-intermediate and above
- Learner maturity: Junior high school and above
- Preparation time: 10 minutes
- Activity time: 45 minutes
- Materials: Multi-colored plasticine, A4 paper, small strips of paper, tissues
In this activity, students take turns sculpting and guessing designated words, and points are awarded to the fastest team. The game can be customized to use vocabulary related to countries, objects, people or animals. It can be used as the main lesson activity, and all students can have an opportunity to be a sculptor. The Plasticine Creations Race provides students with a rare opportunity to sculpt in the classroom. It engages their creativity while simultaneously reviewing and consolidating vocabulary.
Step 1: Acquire plasticine from the school art supplies or from a 100-yen shop.
Step 2: Write the target vocabulary on strips of paper – one piece of paper for each word. One word will be used per round.
Step 1: Explain to the students that they are going to use plasticine to create a thing and their teammates must guess the correct word based on their creation. Tell them each round will use a new word.
Step 2: Demonstrate the activity by making a model of a thing from known vocabulary. Ask the class to guess what it is.
Step 3: Explain the activity is a race and the team who can guess the fastest will get a point in each round by raising their hand (or calling out, if you prefer).
Step 4: Divide the class into teams of five.
Step 5: Ask the teams to choose their team names, and make a table on the blackboard with a points column for each team.
Step 6: Ask one student in each team to turn their chair to face their teammates. That student will be the first sculptor when the game starts. When students switch roles in subsequent rounds, they will switch position with the previous sculptor.
Step 7: Place an A4 sheet of paper on sculptors’ desks to keep the desks clean.
Step 8: Place a piece of plasticine on top of the A4 paper. Each team should now have one piece.
Step 9: Tell the sculptors who have the plasticine that the game will only start when you say, ‘Go!’
Step 10: Remind the class that this is a race, and that teammates should raise their hands/call out as soon as they know the answer. The fastest team to guess correctly will be awarded a point on the board.
Step 11: Show the sculptors the first secret target word by passing them the first strip of paper.
Step 12: Collect the strip of paper once all the sculptors have seen it.
Step 13: Say, ‘Go!’ The sculptors can now begin sculpting and their teammates watch and guess the target word.
Step 14: Once a word has been correctly guessed, give that team a point on the board and then switch the sculptors so new people can try.
Step 15: Proceed with the activity across multiple rounds.
Step 16: Distribute tissues for cleaning fingers at the end.
The game can be made more challenging by assigning fixed phrases/idioms for students to sculpt and guess.
This fun and versatile vocabulary review activity allows for students to engage their creativity and sculpting skills. A very positive atmosphere usually develops due to the tactile and novel nature of the activity. The difficulty can be scaled to various levels, and the activity has worked well with JHS and HS students alike.