Each DVD contains:

  • 25 videos of authentic playground games
  • Children playing games in their own language
  • A variety of circle, clapping, skipping, chasing and other games·
  • Lyrics videos, presenting the words of the songs and rhymes
  • Optional subtitles in the language of the DVD to aid learning
  • Comprehensive planning in a ‘Teacher’s Notes’ pdf
  • Links to language-learning objectives

Why play games?

Playing is a fundamental part of a child’s education – games support the developmental process in many different ways. At their best, playground games can:

· encourage children to mix by breaking down barriers
· help to build trust and acceptance
· develop listening, communication and inter-personal skills
· encourage cooperation and team-building skills
· help children to understand social rules like turn-taking
· give children the opportunity to be creative and inventive
· enable children to be active and to expend energy
· give children a constructive focus for playtime
· provide opportunities to develop leadership roles

Learning games in another language

When children learn playground games, songs and rhymes in a different language, they can also:

· develop their linguistic ability with authentic material
· gain a positive attitude towards language-learning
· have the opportunity to increase their knowledge about language
· develop their phonic knowledge of the language
· feel a sense of achievement
· gain an insight into the culture of a different country

Developing a constructive playground

The games presented in these DVDs provide the basic tools to begin to offer a variety of activities to use on the primary playground in order to help children to play constructively. Some of the benefits of playing playground games have been given above, and combined with learning games in a different language, children in your school could have a wide selection of activities to choose from to support active, constructive playtimes. Children will already know some games themselves – maybe even variations of the games found on this series of DVDs.

Many dinner-time staff have already undergone training in the UK to learn how to support constructive play, and the PMFL DVDs will provide extra activity ideas to supplement this training. Pupils can also be usefully employed to help spread the games to their peers – you might decide to train a group of pupils as ‘playground games experts’ who can teach the games to other children. For further information, please contact us at info@pmfl.eu

Singing and learning

Anyone who has worked with children will understand the power of songs to aid learning and understanding. There has been much research undertaken to give scientific explanations as to why songs and their melodies and lyrics remain in the memory so well, and keep coming back to us, even when we want to forget them! Many of the games on these DVDs use songs and rhymes which have exactly this effect, and support the learning process through enabling children to remember the words by way of the tune.

Games videos

Each DVD contains videos of children playing twenty-five playground games in their own language, easily navigable from the main menu.

The DVDs contains different kinds of games – circle games, skipping games, clapping games, chasing games, action rhymes and other games – to appeal to different children, with varying degrees of simplicity and complexity. The vocabulary and lyrics from the rhymes and songs in the games will provide learning opportunities across a range of ages, so that this resource can be revisited throughout the primary phase of education, and would be appropriate for use at KS3 as well.

Lyrics videos

For most games, there is an additional ‘lyrics video’ which shows one or two children saying or singing the words from the game to support teaching and learning activities. The lyrics videos are designed to enable children to focus on the words, with or without the subtitles, with a well-enunciated version of the song or rhyme and a clear view of the mouths of the speakers, so that learners can focus on the shape of the mouths as words are pronounced. If you can approach the same material repeatedly using a different focus, children will become increasingly familiar with the material without becoming bored and will have started the process of learning the words off by heart.


There is also the option to switch subtitles (in the language of the games) on or off, again as a supplementary aid to teaching and learning activities, depending on the particular focus of the lesson.

Teacher’s notes

There is a also a comprehensive ‘Teacher’s Notes’ pdf, accessible by exploring the disc icon on your computer, which contains the lyrics – with translations – of each game along with interesting and engaging teaching ideas linked to the Primary Strategy, Key Stage 2 Framework for Languages objectives and Scottish 5-14 Guidelines for Modern Languages in the Curriculum for Excellence as appropriate. For the French and Spanish DVDs, this document is in English and the target language.

Teaching Ideas

The list below details just a sample of the variety of ideas which can be used to exploit the games resources more fully, covering the range of listening, speaking, reading and writing skills. For each game on the DVD, a suitable selection of teaching ideas has been provided, although as a teacher, you may decide to use other ideas which more closely match the needs of the children you teach.

Generally speaking, the more times you can approach the videos and written material from different angles, the better. If children can be exposed to the authentic sounds of the French language with different points of focus, they will become increasingly familiar and, hopefully, confident with the words.

Activities – before or after watching the film?

Doing some kind of activity before first watching the game can very usefully prime children so that they are engaged and have some reference point for the information they are about to take on board. Alternatively, watching the game without any preconceptions, and trying to work out what is going on can be a usefully engaging activity. With the variety of games on this series of DVDs there is ample opportunity to do both.

Find the word

With the lyric sheet in front of them, children have to find and underline key words from the text as the teacher says them. The focus may be phonic, semantic, or to consolidate previously learned words, recapping spelling patterns for example.

Word race

The teacher says a word from the game and then writes it on the whiteboard for everyone to see. In pairs, one child has to find the word in the dictionary and the second has to write it and its meaning on a mini-whiteboard. Once the word has been written, the writer puts his or her hand up. The teacher gives each pair a number according to their placing in the class (1 for first etc) which they write down. They now have to swap roles, and get ready for the second word. Doing four or five rounds of this game works well as a starter for a lesson, whilst motivating pupils as they practice their dictionary skills. The team with the lowest number wins.

Class team

This game is better if you have 10 or more words to find. Give children a sheet with the words on, with spaces provided for them to write the meaning. Set the whole class the challenge of finding all words as a team effort in a short space of time against the clock using a dictionary (3 – 6 minutes depending on the number of words and the age and ability of the children). Once they have found a word, they put their hands up and tell the teacher what it means. The teacher, with the French words displayed on the board, then writes the meaning next to the original word, so everyone knows they have got that word, and need to look for others. At the same time as looking for words, children have to try and write down the words as they appear on the board, so a degree of teamwork among the class is necessary for this to work. You can add appropriate rules if it turns out that some children are not trying to look up any words. Maintain motivation levels by constantly referring to how much time they have left.

Text match

This activity definitely works best before the video has been watched, and is better suited to some games rather than others, depending on the lyrics. Give children the lines to a song or rhyme mixed up (a separate slip of paper with each line written on it works well for this activity). Initially, get children to see if they can find any sequences of lines. Encourage them to look for lines with rhyming words at the end, odd lines etc. and get them to put the lines into a possible order for the rhyme or song. Next, give children the translation of the lines in their own language, and get them to match up the translations with the originals. Discuss strategies with them – looking for known words, key words, cognates or proper nouns, for example. Go through the meaning of each line, but not necessarily in order. Finally, get the children to rearrange the original version now that they know what each line means, trying to put it in order. Check the answers using the lyric sheet.

Identify the line

Similar to 'Find the phrase' below, children have to identify the line from the song/rhyme on the lyric sheet as the teacher says it, and repeats it. It is a good idea for both of these games to do the activity as a whole class initially, and discuss strategies for finding the correct answer. Listening for known words, drawing on knowledge of key phonemes, first word in a line, last word in a line, proper nouns etc are all useful strategies to adopt. Once children think they have found the line, they can listen to the teacher saying it again and follow word by word to check if they have the right answer. This activity works particularly well if you have access to sound recording devices which can store a number of separate recordings, so that children can work independently or in pairs, at their own pace.

Find the phrase

With a lyric sheet in front of them, children have to underline the two or three word phrase which the teacher says, using strategies such as listening for known words, key phonemes, first word, last word, proper nouns etc. Listening especially carefully for when the phrase begins and ends.

Secret signal

This is a great game for getting children to say words or short phrases repeatedly. One child is chosen to be on and goes out of the classroom whilst the teacher chooses a second child to be the secret 'signaller'. This child then has to make up a signal that he or she is going to use in the game to change the phrase that everyone is saying. The signal might be something like scratching the head, doing up then undoing a jacket zip, picking pencils out of a pencil case and putting them on the table, taking a sip of water from a bottle etc. Each time this child does the chosen action, the class has to move on to the next word or phrase from a list written on the board (10 – 12 is a good number). Once the child who went outside returns, the game begins. The teacher starts saying the first word or phrase and everyone joins in – shorter phrases work better because they can be chanted more easily. The signaller has to do the signal clearly, and not too often or quickly, giving everyone time to say the target word or phrase a few times, and when he does do the signal, everyone moves on to the next word or phrase. The child who is on has to carefully scan the class and if he thinks that he knows who the signaller is, he goes and stands behind that person. If he is right, everyone breaks out into applause. If he is wrong, everyone continues chanting. If the signaller has not been found after all of the words/phrases have been chanted, the game stops and the secret signaller is revealed. The game begins again with another child going out of the class and another secret signaller being chosen. To make sure that all the target language is used equally, start at the word or phrase at which the last game finished.

Classroom Race

This exciting game motivates pupils to practice pronouncing some of the words in a game. Write a selection of about ten words from a particular game on sheets of A4 paper and stick these up around on the walls around the classroom. Have a list of the words on the whiteboard at the front of the classroom as well. The idea of the game is for children to take it in turns to race around the classroom (with care!) touching the words in the same order as they are written on the board, as the rest of the class chant them. Having chosen the first pupil, the teacher starts the stop watch and begins chanting the first word in the list, slowly enough for everyone to join in, but quickly enough to engender a sense of excitement! The pupil who is on has to race to that word and touch it – as soon as they touch it, the next word is chanted and so on until the last word, when the time is recorded and another pupil is chosen to beat that time if they can. As children are chanting the words, they are not allowed to point to the next word, but they can look/stare at the word to help the pupil who is on. Clearly, the order of the words will begin to become familiar, so you may decide to change the order of the list on the board or the positioning of the words around the room.

Pass the bomb!

This fun game encourages children to think under pressure, against the ticking bomb if you can get one (a toy which you can set so that it 'explodes' with a bang after a certain number of seconds). If you can't, then another kind of timer will work. Set it for somewhere between 30 seconds and a minute, and give it to the first pupil who begins by reading the first word of the lyrics of the game being studied, from the board. She then carefully passes it on to the next player, who reads the next word, etc until the bomb explodes, or the alarm goes off. A variation on this theme is to ask children to recall any word from the game being studied, without repeating a word which has been used. This can get quite tricky!

Juggling Ball

This game can be used as a starter to a lesson, and has three progressive. It works particularly well with nouns, or with a category of words, like colours, but can be adapted for use with any selection of words from games in this series of DVDs. You can use a beanbag or soft ball as an alternative to a juggling ball. Start by throwing the ball and getting children to pronounce the word you say when they throw it back to you. Stress correct pronunciation if possible, throwing the ball back to the same child if you think they can improve. Once children get good at this, they can try and take the place of the teacher, throwing the juggling ball to three other children, getting them to repeat the word, before you choose a different pupil to have a go. The next step is children saying the word back to you in their mother tongue as they throw the ball back – that is, they translate. They will need to be fairly familiar with the lyrics to the game before they can do this, and have had at least one lesson studying them. Finally, the teacher says the word in the mother tongue and children have to translate into the target language as they throw the ball back. If you are happy with games where you eliminate children for wrong answers, and have an ultimate winner (not everyone is happy to play such exclusive games), this sequence of games can work well in a circle with children sitting down if they get the answer wrong.

Letter strings

Give children an appropriate vowel or consonant sound to listen out for and then get children to listen line by line, and give a physical response each time they hear the sound (e.g. 'put your finger on your nose'). If they are sufficiently confident with reading the language being studied, using the lyric sheets, get children to circle the letters which make the sound, and add this to a phonic chart.

Fly Swat!

This is a good game to help consolidate the sound-spelling link. Write or print words from the game on to pieces of card. Put six or seven words into the middle of a circle of children and choose two of them to go head-to-head with a fly swat each. The teacher calls out a word and the first one to 'swat' the word wins a point. The first one to three points wins. You can alter the game so that you say a phoneme that appears in one of the words, or if you have been working with different word-classes, and the selection of words has an appropriate mix, you might call out 'verb' or 'noun', etc.

Board Race

This is another competitive game which children find exciting. It works best when the words to a particular game are already fairly familiar, especially after they have done an activity like 'back writing'. The class is split up into two teams and one pupil from each team is chosen to play head-to-head – if you can choose children of similar abilities, so much the better. Alternatively, get each team to line up and whoever is next in the line will play each other. The teacher calls out a word from the game and both pupils, pen-in-hand, run to the (non-interactive) whiteboard to write the word. The first correct spelling wins a point for their team. To be more inclusive, you can also get the rest of the children to write the words on their mini-whiteboards at the same time, and give one point for each correct answer.

Back writing

Put a list of words from a game up on the board – or several lists: if you can categorise the words into their word classes, putting all the verbs in one list, nouns in another etc. This will help to develop children's knowledge about language. Get children to get into pairs with a view of the board and take it in turns to spell out a word on their partners' backs, trying to guess which letter is being written. A word-class clue can be given if needed. Discuss strategies – does it help if the writer writes more slowly? Which letters are the easiest to identify? If children have been learning the alphabet in the language of the games, they can try and spell out the word as it's being written. To get a sense of what the letters feel like, you might want to go through the alphabet as a whole class activity, with pupils repeating the letters after you say them and then for example, partner A writing the letters on partner B's back.

Silent mouthing

This simple and quick, fun and effective game involves the teacher initially mouthing silently a word chosen from the game being studied. Children put their hand up to answer if they know which word it is. This works particularly well after a game like 'back writing' when there is a selection of words on the board which children can use as prompts and to help them find an answer if necessary. Discuss strategies with children – what helps to work it out (slow, deliberate movement of the mouth, careful observation of the mouth, the observer repeating the movement himself etc)? Then get children to play this game as pair activity, getting a point for each right answer. Are there any words which are difficult to guess, or any particular sounds? Why?

The poisonous word

This is a fun game to play at the end of a lesson, especially if the focus of the lesson has been the attempting to pronounce the words from the game. If you can link it to word class work, so much the better – any opportunity for consolidation! Having put six to ten words on the board, one child goes out of room, and another is asked to choose which of the words (phrases work well for some games too) is the poisonous one. The child returns from outside and has to try to survive by choosing all the words which are not the poisonous one. The child comes back into the classroom and has to survive by picking items other than poisonous one. For each successful word, the teacher can put a tick through it and the whole class can say an exaggerated 'yeeeessss!' in the appropriate language accompanied by the thumbs up sign. If, however, the child picks the poisonous word then some game show type 'failure' sound (hooter, 'wa wa wa' etc) is made along with a thumbs down gesture.

Objection! (Reading)

This game comes in two versions – reading and writing. Both are fun and exciting. This is a good activity to use as children are becoming more familiar with the words to a particular game, but are not yet word-perfect. It works especially well if sound-spelling link activities have already been worked on which are relevant to the words in the particular game. Split the class into two (or more) teams and give each pupil a lyric sheet. Decide which team is going to begin and one person from that team starts reading the lyrics. If anyone from the opposing team thinks that the reader has mispronounced a word, they call out 'Objection!' and offer the correct pronunciation. If they are correct, they continue reading from the mispronounced word. The game continues until the end of a sentence is reached (full stop, exclamation mark or question mark), the reader winning 50 points for his or her team. Once children are familiar with the game, it can be played in smaller groups so that more pupils have the opportunity to read. You might also want to introduce the rule of gaining 10 points for a correct objection and losing 10 points for an incorrect objection – this changes the dynamics of the game, and you will have to judge whether it will work for your class. This game can be off-putting for some children who are lacking in confidence with their speaking, but carefully managed, it is possible to encourage reluctant speakers to participate, especially if the game is played in smaller, possibly same-sex groups.

Slow Reveal

This is a simple but fun game to play once the lyrics of a particular game have been studied at word level. You will need an envelope large enough to fit A4 sheets containing target vocabulary items and then slowly draw them out of the envelope slowly, letter by letter. This works best if children are allowed to call out the answers once they guess what the word is. As a variation, draw the words out backwards.

Masculine or feminine?

This is fun and active game, and gets children understanding or consolidating the fact that nouns have gender in French, Spanish, German and many other European languages. On an interactive whiteboard, prepare three slides containing the selected nouns written down (e.g. le fromage, la souris etc) - 8-12 is a good number of words to have. On the first slide, all masculine words should be written in blue with their definite article preceding them (le or la). On the second slide, remove the article, but maintain the colour-coding. On the final slide all words should be written in black, without the article. All of the words should be piled together into a corner so that they are illegible. It is a good idea to change the order of the words rather than their knowledge of the gender of the nouns. Split the class in two (dividing the class into girls and boys can confuse the linguistic concept of gender with the physical idea of male and female), or alternatively, give half the class blue 'M' for masculine cards and red 'F' for feminine cards. You will quickly drag a word on the first slide into the middle of the screen (a drumstick works well for this) and the children have to stand up (and show their cards if they have them) if the gender of the noun matches their card. By the final slide, children have to rely on their memory of the noun's gender. Having the cards helps to enable the teacher to check whether children have got the idea or not. The standing up part makes it fun for the children! You can do a plenary by saying the words without their article, and see how effective the activity was. This can work especially well if you set this as a challenge to the children at the beginning as they will often rise to it enthusiastically. You can adapt this game by making cards of the words instead of using the interactive whiteboard.

Talk partners

This is a valuable activity to promote engagement, participation and self-esteem. Get children to quickly discuss their ideas amongst themselves before choosing just one child to answer your question. It might be used to work out the rules of a game, what a certain word means, the class of a certain word etc. Encourage reasoning where appropriate, teaching children to have good justification for their beliefs.