THE A-MAZE-ING GAME

Speaking Games: The A-MAZE-ING Game

‘If you don’t know where you are going, you might wind up someplace else.’

A ‘maze’ principle has been widely used in ELT material design, in particular for reading assignments, where students are given different options and a variety of different outcomes. There isn’t one correct answer, so different teams find themselves taking different paths while practising the language in a genuinely communicative activity. If you have never tried them with your students, check these reading mazes on the British Council website – Spending Maze or Holiday Maze. They’re sure to be a hit with your students.

The a-Maze-ing Game is based on a ‘board maze’ principle (it looks like a maze, and it works like a maze). This game can be used as a learning tool for grammar or vocabulary and help revise prepositions of place and direction.

It’s a very simple game, where the player is placed in a maze and has to find a treasure chest and find a way out. This game is designed for playing in pairs.

Materials needed: 1 A4 sheet of paper per student.

Before the game:

Each player will need two 4×4 grids – one with ‘walls’, and one blank grid. You can either prepare them in advance or have your learners make their own mazes (low cost and more learning value).

Step 1.

Hand out two halves of an A4 sheet to each student. They have to fold each sheet in half 4 times to get a 4 by 4 grid and label them along the sides with letters (A-D) and numbers (1-4). Ask them to mark an entrance and exit to the maze on the outer walls of the maze (e.g.A1 and C4).

grid_maze1

Step 2.

Now have them put 9 walls in the maze (a wall – a square border) and hide their treasure chest (T).

grid_step_2

Step 3.

Have students mark 4 squares with ‘Hint’ (H).

grid_step2

Step 4. Get students to choose and fill in the grid with 10 words (These could be any language items – 10 irregular verbs, 10 phrasal verbs, 10 letters, 10 phonemes, etc.). 

grid4

How to play:

The players take turns to move in the maze by calling out the coordinates of a square. A player is allowed to move one square up, down, left or right. Players cannot go through walls. Before the game, players may agree on the entrance to the maze, e.g. A1. The aim of the game is to find the treasure chest and exit the maze.

When the player lands on the square with the word, they explain what the word means (or make up a sentence with it, which is true about them or their friends). If the player fails to define the word/make up a sentence with it, they skip their turn. If they move to the same square again, they have to make a new sentence. When the player lands on the “Hint”square, the opponent should give away the location of the nearest wall.

During the play, players should record their moves on the blank grid drawing the walls and noting down the words.

Whoever manages to find the treasure chest and exit the maze first wins the game.

One square in the maze remains blank (usually the square with the exit) – let your students decide on the final challenge.

 

Happy holidays!

Image: Brett Davis, flickr.com, Creative Commons

16 Comments

  1. Hi Svetlana,
    This looks like a good way of revising, but I want to check a couple of things about how to set the game up. Can the players see their partner’s maze? And if they can’t, what happens if they want to move to a square but there is a wall in the way? If they can, I guess they won’t go down any of the ‘false’ routes.
    Thanks,
    Sandy

    • Hi Sandy! The general principle of the game is pretty similar to Battleship, the only difference being that one cannot make random shots across the field and has to follow ‘the chosen path’ (and it’s somewhat more peaceful). The players cannot see each other’s fields/mazes; their goal is to find the hidden treasure (and then exit the maze). If there’s a wall in the way, they cannot go any further, i.e. the turn goes to their partner. In terms of learning, this provides for rather intensive recycling – when they bang into the wall, they have no other choice but to get back and use the same phrase/word again (and again:)

      I hope your students enjoy the game:)

  2. Hi Svetlana,
    This looks like a good way of revising, but I want to check a couple of things about how to set the game up. Can the players see their partner’s maze? And if they can’t, what happens if they want to move to a square but there is a wall in the way? If they can, I guess they won’t go down any of the ‘false’ routes.
    Thanks,
    Sandy

    • Hi Sandy! The general principle of the game is pretty similar to Battleship, the only difference being that one cannot make random shots across the field and has to follow ‘the chosen path’ (and it’s somewhat more peaceful). The players cannot see each other’s fields/mazes; their goal is to find the hidden treasure (and then exit the maze). If there’s a wall in the way, they cannot go any further, i.e. the turn goes to their partner. In terms of learning, this provides for rather intensive recycling – when they bang into the wall, they have no other choice but to get back and use the same phrase/word again (and again:)

      I hope your students enjoy the game:)

  3. […] On the same page ELT have both written about mazes in the last few months. Svetlana wrote the post the a-maze-ing game, in which she describes using a maze as a low-prep activity to practice speaking and vocabulary. […]

  4. […] On the same page ELT have both written about mazes in the last few months. Svetlana wrote the post the a-maze-ing game, in which she describes using a maze as a low-prep activity to practice speaking and vocabulary. […]

  5. I’d been looking forward to using this game for a while and have used it twice now, with good success. I really like how well this lends itself to students creating the content. My upper intermediate students memorised verb + preposition collocations and beginner students (sharing a common L1) had to translate sentences they created using vocab and grammar covered in class so far. Although one student found the treasure and the exit very quickly, they seemed fully engaged . After the game we debriefed the rules (a few more than specified above).

  6. I’d been looking forward to using this game for a while and have used it twice now, with good success. I really like how well this lends itself to students creating the content. My upper intermediate students memorised verb + preposition collocations and beginner students (sharing a common L1) had to translate sentences they created using vocab and grammar covered in class so far. Although one student found the treasure and the exit very quickly, they seemed fully engaged . After the game we debriefed the rules (a few more than specified above).

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