Here we have listed a few ideas for using a board spinner in class. These activities work best with a simple arrow spinner. See below for instructions on how to make your own!
1. Random number generator.
- Use the spinner in place of a die by dividing the board into six segments and positioning the spinner in the centre.
- Label each section with a number and spin to generate a random move.
- Remember you are not limited to six numbers, so you could use more or fewer sections to generate numbers within any range.
- You might want to generate random numbers for a number of reasons. For example: to decide on the number of moves in a game or to decide how many answers or examples someone has to give.
2. Letter selector
Write the letters of the alphabet around the edge of the spinner and spin to select random letters. This could be used in a number of ways. For example:
- Spin to generate a set number of letters (we would suggest six to nine, depending on the students’ levels). List the spun letters on the board. In teams, give students a time limit to see how many words of three letters or more they can list using only the chosen letters. For more advanced students you can constrain this by making the first letter spun a key letter (students can only list words that contain this letter).
- See how many words students can list starting with the spun letter. For more advanced students, you can make it more difficult by imposing a constraint – words in a particular category, or with a minimum number of letters or syllables.
3. Question starters
- Divide the board into six sections and in each write a Wh- question word (Where...?, When...?, Why...?, What...?, Who...? and How...?)
- Have a volunteer spin the wheel and ask you or another student a question starting with this question word.
- The person who has answered the question then spins the wheel and asks the next question.
There are lots of ways you can use the spinner to make classroom quizzes more exciting. For example:
- Use to select a question category (sport, music, literature, entertainment, history, geography, science, nature, pop culture, etc).
- Use to select a vocabulary category (fruit, sports, countries, animals, body parts, professions, four-syllable words) and see which team can list the most examples in a set time.
- Use to select a decade and have students answer questions based on world events, music, politics or people who were famous in that decade.
- Use to select which team will answer the next question.
- Use to decide how many points will be awarded for a particular question - or which team will get bonus points for a particular round!
5. Revising parts of speech
- Draw a line down the centre of the board.
- Divide the left side into nine segments and position the spinner in the centre.
- Label each segment with a part of speech (verb, adjective, adverb, pronoun, preposition, conjunction, interjection and article).
- Spin to choose a part of speech at random and have a volunteer write an example sentence on the right side of the board, underlining the part of speech spun.
- When students are more confident, have them spin the wheel two or three times, this time devising a sentence using all the parts of speech chosen, underlining and naming each.
- Write a simple sentence on one side of the board and spin the wheel. On each spin, have students volunteer to amend the sentence to create a new, grammatically correct sentence by performing one of the following actions:
- Replace a word in the sentence from the spun category with an alternative word, or
- Add a word to the sentence from this category, or
- Delete a word that belongs to this category.
6. Prepositions of place
- Around the outside of the spinner, write a number of prepositions (on, in, under, beside, between, in front of, behind, over, under, above, below).
- Give the student an object such as a board marker or a bunch of keys.
- Spin the wheel and have them place the object somewhere, making a statement using the selected preposition. For example: ‘The keys are beside the book,’ or ‘The board marker is under the chair.’ Practise with different students, in turn.
7. Run and touch games
- Divide the board into sections, each labelled with a colour.
- Bring two volunteers to the front of the class.
- Spin the wheel so that it stops on a random colour.
- The students' race to be the first to touch something of that colour.
- You can do the same game using shapes instead of colours; materials (wood, metal, plastic, glass, paper, cotton, etc); adjectives (hard, soft, hot, cold, smooth, spikey, fluffy, sharp, etc).
8. Forfeits generator
- Think of some forfeits students must do if they get an answer wrong. Make sure that the chosen forfeits are light, fun and not embarrassing (you will need to judge this according to the class, relationship and personalities of the students). For example: sing a verse of a song, tell a joke, say a tongue-twister, compliment the teacher, spell your full name backwards, name three things you love and three things you hate. It’s good to try to use forfeits that involve language - and to think of some examples in case students get students.
- Give your forfeits shortened names – it’s good if, at least initially, it is not 100% clear what each forfeit involves (your names could be, for example, music, comedy, pronunciation, be nice, my name, love and hate). Write these short forms around the spinner. They act as an aide-memoire for you and as ‘teasers’ for the students. The more enigmatic you can make them, the better.
- When someone is due a forfeit, spin the spinner, then explain what the forfeit involves. Have them do their forfeit, supporting them to be successful in carrying it out.
9. Me or You
- Prepare a list of questions or short tasks.
- Draw a dividing line down the centre of the board and position the spinner on the line.
- Ask for two volunteers and ask them to stand, one on either side of the board, facing the class.
- Spin the spinner and see which side of the line the arrow points.
- The student on that side must answer the first question or do the first task.
- Swap in a new volunteer for this student
- Repeat several times, moving down your list of questions/tasks.
- The class will have fun seeing which student can survive the most rounds without being selected by the spinner and you can help by building the anticipation and tension – Will Johannes survive another round, or will the champion be toppled!?
10. Times, days, months, seasons and years
Here’s a selection of activities you can do related to time:
- Write the numbers one to twelve around the outside of the spinner, as appear on a clock face. Spin the spinner to select a time and ask the students what they usually do at that time of day or what they did/were doing at that time yesterday. You can vary the tense forms according to the level of your students
- Write the days of the week around the outside of the spinner. Spin to choose a day and have students whether that is usually a good day or a bad day for them, and why.
- Write the months of the year around the outside of the wheel. Divide the class into groups and have each group spin to choose a month. Groups use their smartphones to find out about three famous people who were born in that month.
- Divide the board into four using a vertical and horizontal line. Write the name of a season in each quadrant. Place the spinner in the centre. Students take turns spinning to select a season and they write or draw something associated with that season in the quadrant selected. When the board starts to get full, discuss what has been written or drawn. Students have fifteen minutes to write about their favourite season and what they like about it.
- Above the spinner, write the current year. Then, around the spinner, write a series of future dates so you are left with a series of years – for example, 2030, 2050, 2100, 2500, 10,000. Have students spin the spinner to select a year. They talk about what they think things will be like at that time – the planet, nature, inventions, transport, global politics, everyday life (if we are still here!)
Below is a link to download a template and instructions to make your own board spinner. We suggest you use the arrow spinner for these activities as it is the most versatile. However, there are several templates for you to choose from.
Once you’ve made your spinner, take a photo and share it with us! We’d love to see the creative ways you find to use a board spinner in your classroom.
Written by Mike Turner