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The Hat Game – English for Action

Video Pass the hat game

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1. Give everyone 3 small squares of blank paper and a pen. Get everyone to write down a specific type of word on the paper e.g. things you do in the house, jobs and then fold up the pieces of paper (without showing them to anyone) and put them in a hat.

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(Note: for the game to work, everybody in the group must know or be able to recognise the things that other people have written down on their paper. When I play this with native speakers, we often do ‘idioms, nouns and people’. However, when you’re playing this with a group of people from different countries, famous people don’t work very well as everyone has different frames of reference. Vocab groups that you’ve covered in class and are easy enough to act out are a safer bet).

2. Divide the group into 3 teams.

3. Each team nominates one player to be the describer.

How to play:

1. The describer pulls a piece of paper from the hat and has to describe it to her team without saying the word or what it sounds like. e.g. if the words in the hat were all things in the home and the word on the paper was ‘shower’ the describer could say ‘this is where you wash, when you’re not having a bath… It’s where water sprays out’.

The rest of the team has to guess the word/phrase on the paper. Once they have guessed, the describer can pull another piece of paper from the hat and repeat the process. The aim is to get through as many pieces of paper as possible within the time limit of 1 minute. The describer is allowed to ‘pass’ one piece of paper within each go.

2. Whilst the describer is describing words to her team, the rest of the class should listen to the words as it is advantageous in the later rounds to know ALL of the words that are in the hat.

3. Each team is awarded points equivalent to the number of words they’ve got. Any pieces of paper that are ‘passed’ are put back in the hat, as too are any pieces of paper that haven’t been guessed when the describer’s time is up.

4. A different member of each team is the ‘describer’ on each go.

5. When a team finish the last papers in the hat, the timer stops. All papers are then returned to the hat and the next round begins. The team then have the remainder of their time on the clock to describe the papers in the style of the next round.

6. It’s up to you what rounds you use. 3 rounds is a good length.

7. You can do:

Early rounds:

– Charades – Describing the word without saying the word or ‘sounds like’ – Pictionary – Plain old mime

Later rounds: – Describing the word using one word only e.g. shower could be ‘wash’ – Miming the word using only your face (good to do this with the describer behind a table etc so that only their face shows)

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