Even before I can convince them to play those "weird," "nerdy" board games, most of the students in my classes will play Uno. In fact, they love it, and will play it whenever they have a chance. One of my favorite things to do as a teacher is take things my students already enjoy and make them work in a classroom context. This week, Uno gave me a great chance to experiment.
I'm teaching two Latin I classes this semester, and numbers are a standard part of the curriculum. So I bought some blank cards on Amazon, borrowed a fellow teacher's colorful sharpies, and went to town. I recreated an entire Uno deck using Roman numerals, the Latin names for numbers, and the Latin for "wild," "reverse," "skip," "take two," and "take four." There is no Roman numeral for zero, so I had to improvise a bit there, but "nulla" (none) is a useful vocab word, too.
Although the students technically didn't learn 1–10 (I–X?) until today, they were already primed for numbers because I let them play Latin Uno, which I'm calling Unus, last week. They recognized most of the names and numerals immediately, and actually said it was because they had played Unus. Even better, they tried it without hesitation because it's exactly like the game they already know and love.
I am hoping that I can continue to use games throughout the semester to help my students internalize vocabulary words in a deeper, more meaningful way. Flash cards can be helpful and all, but they don't guarantee actual language acquisition. I guarantee you that my students will at least know the Latin numbers, one through nine, by the end of this semester!
This early success has me thinking about several more possibilities, including turning Lunch Money into a gladiator fight game with the Latin words for various attacks and weapons. I could even include messed up ancient art and creepy Latin quotes. Learning is fun... until your friend brutally defeats you in the arena!