TEAPOT Word Game - What Every Teacher Should Know!
by Catherine Schandl
I have always been fascinated by old, worn books so it was nothing out of the ordinary that, some years ago in the teacher's room of the ESL school where I was teaching, I noticed such a book. It was nestled between two glossy grammar books on the bookcase of the teacher's room and what first caught by eye was that the cover was missing. That meant that someone -- or many people -- had used it a great deal!
I pulled out the book as the teachers debated who would get to use the Scrabble game that Friday. The pages of the book were old to the point of being discolored and I quickly sat down at the table to go through the contents. There were games and activities of all kinds for students. One name in particular caught my eye. "Teapot." Basically this was how it worked. One student left the room and the class came up with a word (noun) that was to be the secret word. Once the word was decided, the student was asked to return to the classroom and sat in a chair at the front of the room. Then each student had to say a sentence using the word "Teapot." in his/her sentence instead of the secret word. If the student could not guess what the "Teapot." was, the students were encouraged to give easier clues as the game progressed, until the student guessed what "Teapot." was. The last student to give a sentence about "Teapot." before it was correctly guessed was the next one to leave the room until a new "teapot" was chosen.
At the end of my conversation class that day, I decided to try out the new (or rather old!) game and wondered if it would work. The first student left the room and his classmates excitedly came up with a word. I do not recall what the word was, yet I do recall the excitement with which they played the game until he guessed "Teapot." and the next student left the room. From that moment on, they were enthralled. Every day, at the end of the class, they requested a few minutes of "Teapot" and I obliged, soon realizing that this was one way of getting them interested in thinking of words and how they can be used.
I have even used "Teapot" outside of the classroom, while driving with my boisterous little nephews and niece, who now insist, every time they climb into a car with me, that we play "Teapot." It sounds something like this … "I like teapot." "Ummm … chocolate." "No. I would like to go up the Teapot." "C.N. Tower!" "Yes." "Now it's my turn to think of a teapot!" The most exciting time we played the game, however, was when "Teapot." was actually a teapot!
This game seems to enthrall not only ESL students, but curious kids as well and I therefore highly recommend it for teachers who would like to help their students build their vocabulary, use words correctly and, more importantly, express themselves.
Unfortunately, all those years ago, when I returned to the teacher's room following my first successful encounter with "Teapot," the old worn book was gone, having been thrown away by a well meaning individual who wished to "clean up" the teachers' bookcase. No matter. "Teapot" still lives on!
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