Time: 20-30min

This is designed for Reading and Writing and is good for Junior High and Senior High. The purpose of this activity is to give students practice with creating sentences and manipulating them (for example, turning a positive into a negative or a statement into a question). Students use magnetic word cards to race to form sentences on the blackboard.


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Materials Needed[]

This activity requires a large amount of preparation.

  • A question sheet for each of the groups
  • An answer sheet for each group
  • Magnetic cards with words for each group

The question sheet should have the Japanese meaning of the sentences and prompts for the inflections. For example, the target sentence might be "I am Shin" so the question would be "私はシンです". The inflections required might be negative and positive, so there will be two more points under the target sentence to prompt this. The answer sheets are for the teachers reference to check the answers quickly.

The magnetic cards are each word in all of the sentences. The words are only repeated as many times as they have to be. So there may be 5 sentences all up that have the word "he" in them, but each sentence only has it once, so you only need one "he" card. The cards should have magnets on the back so that they can stick easily to the blackboard. The writing should be big enough for the whole class to see. This activity uses cards instead of just writing on the backboard for a number of reasons:

  • To save time (sticking up a word is faster than writing)
  • We don't want to test spelling
  • We want the students to be able to see the sentences moving around - instead of just erasing the sentence and starting again.


Make groups of around 5 to 7 students. Each group gets a unique question sheet. Each group sits around one or two tables so all students can see the question sheet (maybe give each group two copies). They also get all their word cards on the table.

When the teacher calls go, one student for each group races to their part of the board with the word cards of their choice and creates the first sentence on the question sheet. Once one of the teachers says that it is correct, the student can go back to their group and tag the next student. The next student comes to the sentence and changes it according to the inflection that is required (for example, if they have to make a negative inflection, they might just add the word "not" to the sentence). Again the student goes through the process of checking with the teacher to see if their sentence is correct.

If the sentence is wrong when the student asks the teacher, the student must go back to their group for the next student to try.

The team that finishes all their sentences first are the winners.


Depending upon the level of the students, you can provide all of the base sentence, or just part of it (with the students filling in the gaps).

See Also[]