Games People Play



Each of the following examples of ways you can learn how to use the language patterns on the Teaching Influence cards is based on a well-known card game.
In each case the standard rules of play are outlined and followed by variations designed to facilitate accelerated learning of the language patterns (sometimes referred to as sentence stems).

Just click on a title below to reveal the rules of the game.

To make things easy, the accelerated learning variations are in blue

Solo - Freecell

Initial Layout: Cards are dealt face-up into eight columns. The first four columns each contain seven cards, and the last four contain six cards each. Space is set aside for four foundation piles and four "free cells" -- holding stations where cards may be temporarily stored during play.

Object: The object of the game is to move the four aces, as they appear, to the foundations, and build each up in suit from ace to king (A-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10-J-Q-K).

Play: Only the top (exposed) card of each tableau pile is available for play. It may be moved to a foundation pile, a free cell, or to another tableau pile. Within the tableau, cards are built down in sequence and alternating in color. Any card may be moved into an empty space. Blocks of cards may not be moved, unless the requisite number of free cells and/or tableau spaces are availabe to allow each individual card to be moved. If you fill all four foundation piles, you win.

You can keep this a simple or make it as challenging as you like.
A simple version would be to complete the sentence stem on each card you move to the free cell, foundation or tableau piles.

To make things more challenging and therefore even more useful - every time you add a card to one of the free cell or foundation piles, choose a working context (eg encouraging a pupil or student to tackle a particularly challenging problem, helping pupils and students resolve conflicts, giving feedback to a colleague about a lesson observation etc) and use all of the cards in that pile in an unbroken stream of speech in which each of the stems is joined to another by a conjunction (eg and, because, while, means etc)

Solo or Group - Concentration

The whole pack is laid face down in a 6x9 grid. Each player then turns up on card so all can see, then turns up one other. If the two cards match values, the player removes them from the grid and keeps them. If the cards do not match values then they are both turned face down and the next player has their turn (if playing solo - it's your turn again!). This process continues until all the cards are removed from the grid. If playing in a group, the person with most pairs wins.

To learn the language patterns, whenever a card is turned over, the person must say the sentence stem on the card as part of a logical sentence. To make things more interesting, I suggest choosing a context for the sentences (eg setting homework, anticipating the next lesson, explaining something to a pupil or student etc)

A variation would be to join the two sentences with a conjunction either selected by the solo player or by others in the group.

Group - Switch

The basic game of Switch uses a standard 52 card pack, or two such packs shuffled together if there are a lot of players. The dealer deals (singly) five cards to each player (seven each if there are only two players). The undealt stock is placed face down on the table, and the top card of the stock is turned face up and placed beside the stock to start the discard pile.

Starting with the player to dealer's left, and continuing clockwise, each player in turn must either play a legal card face up on top of the discard pile, or draw a card from the undealt stock. The following plays are legal:

1. if the top card of the discard pile is not an eight, you may play any card which matches the rank or suit of the previous card (for example if the top card was the king of hearts you could play any king or any heart);
2. an eight may be played on any card, and the player of the eight must nominate a suit, which must be played next;
3. if an eight is on top of the pile, you may play any card of the suit nominated by the person who played the eight.

The first player who gets rid of all their cards wins, and the other players score penalty points according to the cards they have left in their hands - 50 for an eight, 10 for a picture, and spot cards at face value (one point for an ace, two for a two and so on).

To learn the sentence stems either choose a working context (eg starting off a new topic/area of work, tutorial activity, working one-to-one etc), or not and every time a card is picked up or discarded the player must create a sentence incorporating the stem that can be used in the chosen working context.

The context could be the same for the whole group or unique to each individual. In the case of the individual, the context could be chosen by the group or the individual themselves.

A particularly challenging, and therefore useful, approach is to have all the 'losers' create an unbroken stream of speech from the cards left in their hands - each one linked with a conjunction.

Group - Cheat

This game is generally called Cheat in Britain and Bullshit in the USA. In many books it appears as I Doubt It. The game can be played by from 2 to 10 players.

One standard pack of 52 cards is used. All the cards are dealt out to the players; some may have more than others, but not by much. The object is to get rid of all your cards. Select at random who should go first and continue clockwise.

On the table is a discard pile, which starts empty. A turn consists of discarding one or more cards face down on the pile, and calling out their rank. The first player must discard Aces, the second player discards Twos, the next player Threes, and so on. After Tens come Jacks, then Queens, then Kings, then back to Aces, etc.

Since the cards are discarded face down, you do not in fact have to play the rank you are calling. For example if it is your turn to discard Sevens, you may actually discard any card or mixture of cards; in particular, if you don't have any Sevens you will be forced to play some other card or cards.

Any player who suspects that the card(s) discarded by a player do not match the rank called can challenge the play by calling "Cheat!", "Bullshit!" or "I doubt it!" (depending on what you call the game). Then the cards played by the challenged player are exposed and one of two things happens:

1. if they are all of the rank that was called, the challenge is false, and the challenger must pick up the whole discard pile;
2. if any of the played cards is different from the called rank, the challenge is correct, and the person who played the cards must pick up the whole discard pile.

In either case, the person who picks up the cards has to create an unbroken stream of speech using all of the language patterns included on the cards they have just picked up. They must do this by linking each of the patterns with a conjunction (and, as, because, while etc).
The context for the stream of speech is set by the other players (eg starting a new topic, setting homework, chastising a pupil or student etc).

A variation is that the whole group has to create the unbroken stream of speech in a context chosen by the person who has picked up the cards.

Another is that the person who picked up the cards is the only one who selects each conjunction for the whole group stream of speech.

In another, the person who picked up the cards (A) starts off, followed by one person in the group. (A) then continues the sentence followed by a different person, and so on.

In yet another, the group choose the conjunctions and (A) uses them in their stream of speech.


After the challenge is resolved, play continues in normal rotation: the player to the left of the one who was challenged plays and calls the next rank in sequence.

The first player to get rid of all their cards and survive any challenge resulting from their final play wins the game. If you play your last remaining card(s), but someone challenges you and the cards you played are not what you called, you pick up the pile and play continues.