“Go fish!” to review a story

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Instead of playing with a deck of cards, play this familiar children’s game with scenes from a film or story as an opportunity to practice output in language classes. For more on the role of output in Comprehensible Input classes, please read this post.


  1. Prepare students for this output activity by pre-loading them with comprehensible input. The activity will be most successful and beneficial if students are very familiar with the scenes that they will be describing. Some basic ideas for providing input are storyasking and MovieTalk, and it would be wise to do some follow-up, input-based activities afterward. There are many options described in this category archive.
  2. Gather 12-15 images depicting different scenes from a film, story, or novel. The images should not be ambiguous–it should be very clear what is happening in the depicted scene. I have created a set for the short film “Carrot Crazy”, and you can download it here (free!). The film is one of my favorite to use with MovieTalk, and it is available on YouTube (click here).  Please be aware that there are weapons depicted in the film, so use your discretion when showing it in class. I did not include any of those images in the card deck.
  3. Print out four copies of the set of images in order to make a single deck of playing cards. Use card stock to make the game more durable, and consider laminating it if you want to use it again in the future.
  4. Form groups of 2-4 students and have them play “Go Fish!” in the target language. (In Spanish, “Go fish!” is “¡A pescar!”.)
  • For 2 players, each player starts with 7 cards; 3 players start with 6 cards each; 4 players start with 5 cards each. The remaining cards go face down in the “fish pond” (draw pile).
  • For complete instructions for game play, see http://www.gofish-cardgame.com.
  • Instead of asking “Does anyone have a #?”, they should ask (in the target language), “Does anyone have a picture of when [scene description]?” For example, “Does anyone have a picture of when [the boy makes a carrot cake]?”

This provides many repetitions of the structures “has” and “I (don’t) have”, and it can be used with basic vocabulary and numbers instead of with story scenes…but let’s face it, it’s a little more awesome like this :).

Once you’ve created the cards for this game, you can use them for zillions of other activities. Here are a just a few–please add more ideas in the comments section:

  • Have students line up the scenes on their desks, then close their eyes while a partner removes one of them. The student must describe what happened in the missing scene.
  • Tape one scene to each student’s forehead. The student must ask yes/no questions about his/her scene to his/her classmates until s/he correctly determines which scene is on his or her own forehead.
  • Distribute one card to each student, then have them silently form a human timeline.
  • Use them for a speaking or writing assessment: give several scenes to a student, and have them describe what is happening.

10 thoughts on ““Go fish!” to review a story

  1. Madeleine Wood says:

    Such a great idea. What program do you use to put the 12 images so nicely on an 8.5X11 page? Thanks!

  2. senorabas says:

    I’ll definitely be using this! I have been practicing my Movie Talk skills this year, so I have already done the heavy lifting in some clips as far as screenshots of different scenes. Gracias!

  3. Suzie says:

    This is so awesome and versatile. My students are going to play this with clothing. They need to practice the preterite in a conversation. They will ask Compraste los pantalones? and respond Si/no compré los pantalones. The draw or collect a card accordingly. Love your stuff! Thanks!

  4. Jeanne says:

    I did this the lazy man’s way for story review. I just printed my story powerpoint slides 9 to a card stock page and I had an easy review game. Used it today and they had a ball. Muchísimas gracias.

  5. Erica says:

    My Chinese class is watching the movie “Xizao”, and we played this game with screenshots today. They had fun, AND it was a good way to get to my reluctant talkers!

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