Bottle Flipping Tournament in the TL

Some of my most inspirational colleagues and I have a facebook group in which we share our ideas and questions about our proficiency- based, desk-free classes. The beauty of this group is that we build on one another’s ideas. This happened recently when Becky Sayan shared that she brought the Bottle Flipping Phenomenon into her Spanish class.

“We played the bottle flip game today in class. We call it “voltea la botella” I’ve been focusing on taking my hooks from the class itself this year and this was something that was on the verge of being a power struggle that became an awesome learning opportunity! Anyway, super fun and the kids got ton of vocab out of it and there are a million different competitions you could have so tomorrow I’m going to have the kids invent a different version.”- Becky

Stel Schmalz, the woman I have the amazing fortune to work with daily, took this idea and ran with it. Then I got to duplicate her results with my classes. Below she gave me permission to share what we did.

If you aren’t a regular reader of this blog, first let me share that our classes are conducted in 100% Spanish for teacher and students. Also, we focus on what students can do in the language, rather than on error correction. Finally, while we guide the activities, students drive the vocab lists and content.


Bottle Flipping Tournament

Announcement the day before: At the end of class announce that tomorrow students will have a bottle flipping competition. They are allowed to bring their own bottle with the amount of water they think will help them win.

This is how the classes progressed:

Practice: Give the students time to practice in pairs. Before having them do this, you can share a few key words if they don’t know them. Bottle, flip, amount of water, etc can be helpful. Before practicing, we decided if the competition would take place from a standing or kneeling position.

Names: As they are practicing have everyone enter their name into a basket so the names can be drawn for the tournament.

Create brackets: One student volunteered to write names up on the board and I gave all students the opportunity to pick names from the basket. We did this in dramatic fashion, clapping after every entry and commenting on the competition. Words like against, competition, tournament and win came out.

IMG_2099.JPGWhite Boards: Each student takes a white board and marker to vote on the winner of each battle. They would write down the name of the student they thought would win (secretly) and if they were correct, they earned a point. Students kept track of their points with a tally on the corner of their white board. This helped the audience stay engaged throughout, even after being eliminated from the tournament. In between rounds I asked students to report out how many points they’d earned. Vocab came up like to vote and surprise.

Round 1: We called the first pair to the middle of the circle. Asked them to greet one another and then after I said 1, 2, 3 they were able to begin flipping their bottle. The person to land the bottle on it’s base first was the winner and his or her name was written down for the next round.

Other Rounds: We continued the process of round 1, but new and surprising favorites emerged as strong bottle flippers and students earned their own fans. We kept going until only one winner remained and we celebrated that winner with lots of cheering. These rounds were a lot of fun, I got caught up in the competition and cheering. Students did not use any English and just played together as a community. When some quieter students were successful, the class was excited to support him/her.

Vocabulary: Afterwards we jotted down some words that came up during class. And I previewed the next activity for the following day (We have 50 minute classes and didn’t have time left.

Posters: Students worked in groups of 2-4 to create posters explaining the bottle flipping activity and/or tournament in Spanish. They took some different approaches, some asked for vocabulary or grammar related advice, others expressed their ideas on their own. Students joked around using Spanish during this open work time and stayed committed to the 100% TL. I would not have tried small group work like this if that TL environment and supportive community were not already established.  


Sharing: Students shared their posters in quick presentations to the class. You could also do a gallery walk for this part.

Let me know if you have any questions or think you’ll be able to use this in class. Comment below!