Notes from MAFLA Session

Team Challenges in the Target Language!

Hello MAFLA friends!

Thank you so much for attending my session. I really had a great time sharing with you. If you have one moment, shoot me an e-mail at to let me know in 3 words what you thought of the session! Or tweet it at me @profeashley

I’d love to connect with you, so check out my social media links above as well as upcoming workshops listed here. I’m always looking for schools to host workshops as well, so let me know if you’re interested.

For each activity we discussed how to leverage the three phases of a team challenge. You choose whether the interpretive, interpersonal, or production of the language is your focus. It’s  important to adjust for Novice vs. Intermediate.

Three Phases

  1. Instructions (Interpretive/ Comprehensible Input)
  2. Activity (Interpersonal)
  3. Debrief (Presentational)


Here are some quick description of the activity. Shoot me an e-mail ( if you want to go into any more in depth! My hope is these notes spark your memory enough to help you use them in class.

Our Activities @ MAFLA:

  • Pass the Ball
  • On the train (Bus Stop)
  • Collect warm/cool colored balls
  • Pass the ball back and forth down a line (we played in 3 groups)
  • 4 Corner Traverse
  • Animal Toss (With Bandanas)

Find many more at my blog (click follow blog)

Pass the ball in order as quickly as you can!– Have students pass the ball around remembering who they are passing it to and who they are receiving it from. Practice the order a few ties and then time them, ask if they can beat that time! Have them problem-solve to keep beating it! Eventually they realize they don’t need to stay in the circle in that order and cut their time down a lot.

On the train!: Warm-up. Everyone stands in the area you call “the train”. And gets off by deciding if they prefer one thing or another. Point to left and say “Summer”. Point to right and say “Winter”. Students step to one side or another. Have them look around at who is on either. side. Then step back onto the train. Repeat, repeat, repeat. Encourage convos with kids on same sides or opposite side. Can be used to “hook” students into a topic. Or for a team challenge, have them come up with a topic that would evenly split them, or one that would have everyone vote the same, etc.

Find warm/cool balls blindfolded: I realize now I need much cooler names for these games. For this one, partners work together. One partner is blindfolded and the other can see in order to give directions. The team needs to gather as many plastic balls in the area as they can (can use balled up paper, easter eggs, ANYTHING). Each color has a different point value. Once all balls are collected, count the points up and see who wins. Repeat before debrief. Or debrief and then repeat. Lots of ways to change this up!

Overhead Pass:We split into three teams and lined up single file. The first person in line was given the ball and passed in backwards over their head to the second person and everyone repeated until the end, then it had to reverse to the front. After the first round, teams were allowed to discuss strategies and try again.

Four corner traverse:This was the one where students start separated into four corners. They are given a certain number of resources (Lillypads)  to traverse the area in the middle. They have to strategize with one another. If you end up losing contact with a resource, you lose it.

Each group had to traverse to the corner diagonally across. The team is only successful if everyone makes it to the other side (not just their corner of people). The key is to use the resources wisely.

Tossing and catching with bandanas – Each pair gets a bandana and a beany baby (we used the plastic balls this week). Have them try throwing it up in the air and catching it! Then passing from one pair to another. Then half the class passes it down the line, then the whole class. Can challenge them to get as many animals (or balls) from start to finish in one minute!

Bonus Activities:


  • Hula Hoop Pass: This activity is one of the most simple. Students need to pass a hula hoop around the circle while holding hands. The challenge is to get the fastest time possible. Check out my fastest group. They had the idea that starting at a lower position made it easier for each person to simply step out of the hula hoop.
  • Line up! Have students line up in certain orders. We did time you went to sleep last night and time you work up this morning. Gets them talking to everyone to find their spot in line.
  • Collaborative Drawing:
  • Communicative mystery design:  I have to give credit here to my partner in crime, Estela Schmalz! She introduced me to this activity. You create a design of some sort in a box and have the same materials for each group to try to recreate the same design. Person #1 in the group gets to SEE the design in the box and tell the second person about it. Person #2 gets to hear the instructions from the first person and then describe them to person #3 (and 4 if groups of 4). Person #3 has to listen carefully and build the design with the materials they have. So much fun! one for fun!


Any camp, advisory or youth group team building game can be used in the TL!

And follow my blog for more games and I always post favorite links on my public facebook page:


Hope these quick notes help! Let me know if I left anything out!





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