Bilingual Vocabulary Picture Bingo
As a unilingual home schooling American in Europe, I've got
a fairly singular set of conditions to work under when creating
activities. This bingo game was a hit with lots of repeat
- one square piece of construction or other sturdy paper
and one Magic Marker for each child
- 9 bingo chips such as buttons or M&Ms or bubble gum
- prepared list(s) of 18 objects to be called, plus a copy
of each list cut up per word into 18 small cards
- a large bowl/hat to pull the words from when calling
- one translator for any other linguistically-challenged
- Hand out the papers, markers and bingo chips. I had the
kids spread out all over the floor.
- Instruct the children to make a 9 square grid; two horizontal
lines and two bisecting vertical lines (you can show your
sample bingo card or demonstrate on a child's blackboard).
- I actually used the phrases "nine square grid",
"horizontal lines" and "bisecting vertical;
it exposes the children to mathematical terms in a friendly
environment and, because sounds very impressive, there's
a true sense of accomplishment when the kids complete the
- Using your list of (let's say) animals, tell the children
to draw - in any square they wish - the picture of EITHER
an elephant OR a lion. Stress that the card they are creating
should be unique to make the game more fun.
- If you are working on a second language, or just happen
to be living in a foreign non-English-speaking country,
repeat the animal name in the applicable language.
- Once the first box is completed and using the second
pair of objects on your list, tell the kids to draw - in
any square - a picture of EITHER a snake or a monkey.
This particular party had a
jungle theme, so it helped the younger children for me
to point out relevant wall decorations (very simple animal
cut-outs I had made the night before)
|NOTE: when you start the game,
remember to call out the words in both languages. After
a couple of rounds, you can make it more interesting by
calling them out in the target language only - the kids
will automatically translate out loud thereby helping
ones not sure of the translation.
When all cards are completed, explain that the aim of the
game is to shout BINGO! whenever a child gets three markers
in a row - in any direction. Here the terms horizontal, vertical
and diagonal can be used and understood without explanation
as you draw lines on the board.
We played until the cards were full, so that everyone got
to shout BINGO! several times - there were no prizes given
out, just lots of "wow!"s and "again?!s"
and "that's incredible!"s from an appreciative
When the theme chosen has run its course, you can refresh
the game by drawing new cards on the back of the old ones,
with whatever objects fit your interests or fancy: pieces
of fruit, holiday or fairy tale characters (ie., Santa, Easter
Bunny, Pilgrim, tooth fairy, angel etc.), Sesame Street cast,
buildings or monuments (house, pyramid, igloo), etc.
Once the balloons were inflated, dizziness and hyperventilation
receding to acceptable levels, we strung them together with
thread and hung them, cascading from windows, as an out-of-the-way
When they were needed, we freed the balloons and
let the girls choose a favorite color.
The gang gathered round a large table covered by a cheap
disposable plastic tablecloth, and started working with a
variety of decorating materials including:
glitter glue squeezable tubes
- glitter glue pots with applicator stick
- clear liquid glue with applicator stick (for the
- glue sticks
- paint brushes
- washable paint
- crepe paper strips
- colorful cotton balls
- small pom-poms
- Easter grass
- colored sand
- macaroni (different shapes and sizes)
Organize all the materials above in old egg cartons.
This activity kept everyone busy for a solid 30 minutes,
and some of their creations were real works of art. To dry
one side at a time, tie a ribbon to the knot of the balloon
and tape up on the wall or window.
Once in a while, there'd be a loud explosion and some screams.
No one ever got very upset about the destruction of their
masterpiece, but the added tension seemed to keep interest
Although it sounds like an awful mess, it's actually a quick
and easy clean-up: just grab the brushes and markers and any
other salvageable items, then wrap up the rest in the tablecloth
Since the activity was held in a playroom with a
hardwood floor, one quick sweep finished the job off.
Take Home Memories
When parents came collecting, the kids happily flaunted their
personalized bingo cards and balloon projects, which of course
they took home as party favors, chocolate stained with ribbons
About the Author:
Stephanie Olsen, published writer,
homeschooling mother of two and ESL teacher currently residing
in Europe, is also owner of the expatriate site, Family Life
where you'll find humorous and informative articles by experienced
expatriates on all aspects of living abroad, with lots of
links and travel tips.