Word association (Mallet’s Mallet)

timmy-2Here’s a nice quick warmer which has been around for ages (for my generation a version of it was made famous by Timmy Mallet and his mallet). Having an oversized soft or squeaky mallet isn’t necessary in the classroom although it’s not a disadvantage.

Get the students sitting in a circle and explain the game. Give them a word (you could use a word associated with that day’s topic to get them thinking about associated vocab), eg. window and ask the person to your right to say a word that has some association, eg. glass. Ask the class what the connection is between the two words, and then ask the third person to say a word associated with the second word, eg. whisky. Check that the students know that the third word needn’t be associated with the first word.

Before you start the game proper, explain that there are three rules: no hesitation (explain or mime what this is if they don’t know), no repetition and the word must be associated with the previous one. Anyone can challenge a word if they think it’s not associated with the previous one and the student who said it must explain the connection.

Now begin the game. If someone hesitates, repeats or says a word that is irrelevant, they are eliminated (and bonked on the head/hand with the mallet). You can play till you have one winner or you can announce the last two/three/four players as the winners, depending on the time and momentum of the game.

A little bit of competitiveness does wonders for getting the students engaged (it worked well on my sleepy after-lunch class). It also allows students to express themselves through the associations they make (the adults had a bit of a laugh with it) and you can use it as an introduction to a vocab brainstorm on that day’s topic.

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