AS THE END OF THE SCHOOL YEAR APPROACHES, and my elementary Spanish students are getting a bit squirrelly, I like to incorporate authentic games in class, whether that be going outside or playing games in the classroom. Many years ago I was introduced to RELOJ, a card game from Spain that is perfect for most levels of students, from upper elementary to high school. (I wish I could remember the teacher's name! It was during a presentation here in Maine about 15 years ago, if my memory is jogged I will give her credit) The object of the game is to go out first, to get rid of all your cards. Students can play in small groups, or as a whole class, which is how I do it with my 4th graders when introducing the game. Once they are familiar with it, I break them into groups of 4-5 to play.
I purchased several decks of cards at the Dollar Store; I particularly like the oversized ones as they are easier to see and manipulate for my students. Remove the jokers and queens- Spanish decks do not have queens, and the jokers are not used in this game.
Shuffle all the cards- if you are playing with the whole class, combine 4-5 decks, shuffling as best you can.
Deal out the deck(s), just as you would when playing War; all cards are dealt out face down. Students cannot look at their cards, they keep them in front of them in a pile. When playing with the entire class, I usually only deal out 8-10 cards per student, especially while they are still learning how to play.
Going clockwise, first student flips over the top card on his/her pile, puts it in the middle (discard pile) and says 'Reloj' (this card has no penalty for saying it- you will see what I mean!)
Next student flips over top card and says 'Uno', next student does the same saying 'Dos', and so on "around the clock" until you get to 'rey' whereupon you start again with 'reloj'. NOTE: a ten is called 'caballo', the jack is 'sota', and of course the king is 'rey'.
If a student flips over a card and says the same number as is the card he/she flips, he must take the entire discard pile! And since in order to win, you must go out, grabbing the discard pile is not what you want! You can see now why having 'Reloj' be the penalty free card is great- since there is no corresponding card, it's like a safety card. Game continues until one player goes out.
*I usually write the numerals and their corresponding names on the board for my 3rd & 4th graders as an additional support. For older students, this might not be necessary.
AND, TO HELP YOUR STUDENTS STAY IN THE TARGET LANGUAGE while playing, check out our Games Vocabulary Posters! You can find them here.