Improv Game- Santa’s Lap



I’ve been incorporating more improv activities into class this year, like this one I blogged about earlier.  Andrew, an 8th grader, is an actor and currently in an improv group. A few days ago he shared this game with me, and ever since I was excited to try it out with his Spanish class. When it seemed like a good time, I asked him if he could lead us through learning the game and our first round.

The activity can be found at this link. I’ll quickly sum it up though:

  • Someone volunteers to be “Santa” and leaves the room. Then the class chooses three players to act as children waiting to sit on Santa’s lap. (We skipped the lap part other than this picture).
  • As a class we assign a famous person to each player.
  • The object is for the players to ask Santa for three gifts in a way that will help him guess their identities.
  • There is a fifth player, the elf, who helps move the game along and also offers more obvious hints if Santa gets stuck.

Andrew and I worked together to explain the game to the class  (completely in Spanish, of course) and answered clarifying questions. One important part is that the players shouldn’t impersonate the famous person with their voice or actions, it should be based on hints in their words.

We played this through as a whole class twice. In the first round students actually chose three teachers for their “celebrities”. And of course, there was a lot of laughter. The play with the language was fun to witness. It didn’t feel like we were working on our Spanish, we were just together having fun in the language. I don’t have the words to describe it, but it was really a highlight for me to watch them play this .

A few new vocabulary words came up as students wanted to ask for gifts. In the previous classes, we’d been talking about things we need and things we want , a skill they were able to practice with this game.  For round two, 5 new players played while the class participated in choosing identities and brain storming gift ideas. The second batch of celebrities included a superhero, book character from their ELA class and Mario.

After, I broke them into small groups and continued to play, switching up the roles. My class was small enough that just dividing into half worked well. This is a third year class, so they were able to mange themselves, deciding who would leave the room and voting on characters. Again, the elf role is the leader in this game.

I observed a lot of laughter during this time and the students were using Spanish creatively for at least 30 minutes. This was possible because as a community they’ve committed to using Spanish 100% and they know how to ask me for words or phrases when they need it. They are also willing to take risks and play with the language.

Do you think this is an activity you would do with your class? Let me know how you like it!