A class full of cockroaches

This is designed for Speaking and is good for Elementary school.

The Cockroach game is a great game for Elementary level kids to practise conversation pieces. They love pretending to be animals and they all hate cockroaches, which generates the motivation to use their English to evolve to a higher level.

This game is also known as the Gokiburi game (the Japanese name for cockroach) or the Evolution game.


4-6 animal flashcards


  • First of all teach your target conversation piece. (eg. "What's your name?", "My name is _____.")
  • Place 4-6 animal flashcards on the board in some kind of evolution order, with a cockroach at the bottom and a king at the top.

Example evolutionary sequence
Croach Equilibrium Frog3 Equilibrium Cat 4 Equilibrium Jack Russell Equilibrium Monkey happy Equilibrium Clubs king
Cockroach Frog Cat Dog Monkey King
  • Teach the names of the animals in English and also associate an easy-to-understand gesture with each animal.
  • Tell the class that they have now all become cockroaches! Explain and demonstrate with your co-teacher or a bright student the procedure for evolution:
2 frogs

Two frogs


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Anybody who is a cockroach has to find another cockroach by looking for someone doing the same cockroach gesture taught previously. They then practice the target English piece (eg. A:"What's your name?", B:"My name is Yuki. What's your name?", A:"My name is Keisuke.") and follow it by janken. The winner evolves up to the next animal in the evolution chain. The loser devolves down the evolution chain, or just remains a cockroach. They then continue the game by searching for another person doing the gesture of the animal they have become. Note: animals can only janken with animals of the same type; interspecies communication is forbidden!
  • Once they understand (some lower Elementary grades require a few demonstrations to get it) start the game!

Depending on the number of evolutionary steps the game can last between 5-15 minutes.


You can change the highest level being from a king to a teacher. Tell the kids that when they evolve up to teachers they have to win a janken match with you to win the game. That way you can monitor the progress of the game and keep track of which kids come in the 1st, 2nd, 3rd places.

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