Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Sentence Flyswatter

This is an fun post-reading activity which I learned from Jason Fritze, and it is a variation of the activity Flyswatter. In the regular version of Flyswatter, you write a number of vocabulary words on the board but scatter them all over the board. You give two students flyswatters, and you call out the English meaning of a word. The goal is for students to "swat" the correct word, with the first student who does receiving a point.

I love Flyswatter, but in light of Comprehensible Input, it is a rather limited vocabulary activity; we know that vocabulary is never presented as isolated words but rather in a meaningful context. Jason Fritze's version brings in the Comprehensible Input factor yet still preserves what makes Flyswatter an enjoyable activity for students. Instead of vocabulary words, you will use pictures from a story which the class has been reading.

NOTE - this activity takes a bit of prep work on your end. 

  1. Take sentences from a story which you have been reviewing. These sentences need to be 100% comprehensible to students! I would not use sentences with which students are unfamiliar.
  2. On a piece of paper, draw four quadrants and in each quadrant, illustrate a sentence from the story.
  3. Repeat the same thing with 2-3 more sheets of paper with a variation of sentences
  4. With a document projector, project the pictures onto a screen. NOTE - you can also do this activity using a plastic overhead sheet and projector, but do those exist in the classroom any longer?
  5. Pick two student volunteers and give a flyswatter to each
  6. Explain that you are going to read a sentence aloud in Latin which corresponds to one of the pictures, and AFTER the sentence has been completed, the first one to swat the correct picture gets a point.
  7. Best 3 out of 5 wins
  8. Pick two new volunteers and repeat with a new set of pictures.

  1. Wow, what a great way to get in repetitions of the language in a VERY fun and meaningful context. Students are hearing the language and associating them with pictures.
  2. Students LOVE this activity due to being able to "swat" the board. I only do this activity though a few times a semester in order to preserve the novelty.
  3. It is another great way to review a story in a completely different modality.
Here is an example of a story which used for Sentence Flyswatter. 

1) Marcus duos filios habet
2) unus filius est bonus, sed unus filius est malus
3) bonus filius dicit, "mihi placet esse bonus!"
4) malus filius dicit, "mihi placet esse malus!"
5) bonus filius dicit, "mihi placet currere in silva!"
6) malus filius dicit, "mihi placet currere in urbe nude!"
7) bonus filius dicit, "mihi placet pulsare malos iuvenes"
8) malus filius dicit, "mihi placet pulsare senes!"
9) bonus filius dicit, "mihi placet consumere crustula!"
10) malus filisu dicit, "mihi placet consumere infantes!"

Here are the three "storyboards" which I used - can you guess which picture is which sentence?



  1. I enjoyed this one as much as the previous. Keep it up!

  2. I used a variation of this today in 4th grade. Instead of drawing the pictures myself, I had my students write their favorite sentence on the back of their piece of paper. Then, on the reverse side they illustrated that sentence. I took the pictures and only placed two on the board. The students loved this (it was their first time playing the game). I think, especially at a lower grade level, fewer pictures may be helpful for them.

    1. Glad to read that it went well. Any activity involving flyswatters is always fun!

  3. I'm new to CI. I have used the Flyswatter game in the past. However, because I did not like several aspects of the game I modified it. Negative aspects of the game for me: it can be chaotic, too loud (disrupting other classes) and, MOST IMPORTANTLY... only two can play at a time. This translates to opportunity for students to check out mentally. As a result, I started making this a class-wide, pair-competition activity. Instead of projecting on the board for only 2 students to play, I have students in pairs (or groups of 3/4 if you prefer). Now EVERYONE PLAYS. The difference is that, because the game is on a smaller scale, students either use a marker, a pencil (or maybe a Q-tip) or their finger to identify the answer. Now that I'm using CI, after reading this, I'm excited to try a CI version of my version of Flyswatter!