UNO is a trademarked game from Mattel

Think UNO is just a quiet game of number and color matching?  Think again! 

UNO is a great game for getting your students speaking!  I use it to get my students to practice all of the following language:

  • This is a…
  • That is a …
  • These are …
  • Those are…
  • What is this?
  • What is that?
  • What are these?
  • What are those?
  • Not
  • Colors
  • numbers

Here is an example of how I use it in a class where students are learning to use the basic sentence structure, “This is a …”:

Deal out seven cards to each student and play the game as usual, only students must say what they are laying down.  For example, if a student is going to lay down a yellow 2, she must say, “This is a Yellow 2.”  The play then goes to the next student.  Let’s say he lays down a Green 2.  He must say, “This is a Green 2.”  Play the game in this fashion until one of the students lays down all of the cards in her hand and wins.

The special cards in the deck are as follows:

  • This is a Wild Draw 4
  • This is a Wild card
  • This is a Green Draw 2
  • This is a Red Skip
  • This is a Blue Reverse

When the students start contrasting ‘this’ and ‘that’, bring that to the game.  Now, students must say what the previous student laid down before saying what they are about to lay down:  “That is a Yellow 2.  This is a Blue Skip.”

As the students progress further, the expectations for play expand as well.  For example, when the students are learning plurals, and the contrasting words ‘these’ and ‘those’, support this by incorporating them into the game.  When a student has two or more of the same card in his hand, he can now lay them all down at once, saying, “These are Red 7’s”.  The next student must then say, “Those are Red 7’s before saying what he is about to lay down.  In this game now, students are contrasting ‘this’, ‘that’, ‘these’, and ‘those’.

Have your students learned ‘not’?  Throw it in!  Now when a student lays down a card, she must first say what it is not, and then what it is:  “This is not a Green 9.  This is a Blue 4.”  And for added fun, the students can be allowed to say anything that their card is not:  “This is not a gorilla!  This is a Blue 4.”

And of course, you play the game in which students ask questions too!  In this case, the student would lay her card down and ask the next student, “What is this?”  The next student must answer, “That is a Green 8,” before laying down her own card and asking the next student the appropriate question.

As you can see, there are a lot of options for using UNO to support the language you are teaching.  Give it a try, and let us know how it goes, and how you might have used it differently!  Or maybe you have another card game that you like to use to get your students talking.  Please let us know.  We’d love to hear about it!