Tipoteo (Games my Heritage kids don’t think are lame)

My Heritage Little Darlings think a lot of my games are lame. For example, The Lucky Reading Game is on their Lame List (Miss, It’s just reading and answering questions. That is not fun at all.) Since they’ve got different needs than my Spanish Language Learners, it makes sense that the games that are favorites in Spanish 1-4 fall flat in my Spanish for Heritage Speakers class. It’s taken a while, but I’ve finally curated a collection that they consistently like (and even request!) and I’ll share them in a series of posts. And…don’t fret if you don’t teach Heritage Students! At the bottom of this post I have some scaffolds so your language learners can play too.

Tipoteo, the original:

I came across this game on the Internet, and it seems to be a favorite in a lot of Spanish speaking countries (in my research, it was mentioned in relation to Spain, Costa Rica, Argentina and Uruguay…if you learned it in another country, I’d love to know where!)

Basically someone thinks of a verb and everyone else tries to guess the verb, but using the made up verb “Tipotear” to ask questionsnuntil they figure it out. So I might be thinking of the verb “bailar“, and they might ask ¿Se puede tipotear en la casa? ¿Se puede tipotear solo o se tipotea con amigos? ¿Tipoteas más adentro o afuera? ¿Tipoteas varias veces a la semana? and so on until they figure out the secret verb.

Tipoteo, in the classroom:

I made a few adjustments to make this work better in the classroom. First, I modeled it for them. I divided the class into 2 teams and on a mini whiteboard I wrote down a secret verb, and held the board so that only Team A could see the answer. I explained that Team B had to figure out the verb by asking questions, that Team A would answer. To get them started, I threw out a few questions, ¿Se puede tipotear en la iglesia? ¿Hay alguien en el salón que tipotee ahora mismo? ¿A quién le gusta tipotear? Once they caught on, they asked questions until they figured out the verb written on the board. Then I wrote a new one and Team A tried to figure out the verb while Team B answered their questions. For the practice round, each time had a chance to guess and answer the other team’s questions.

Then, we played for real: Divide class into 2 teams and give each team a mini whiteboard. They write a verb on their board (Don’t worry…you’ll approve it before we start playing! Your Little Darlings wouldn’t dream of writing something naughty on their boards, would they?!?!) My kids had a surprisingly hard time with identifying verbs so we had to get that straightened out first! The I set up the boards on chairs, so that ONLY their team could see the verb they had written.

Then teams alternated to ask and answer questions. Team A asked a question, Team B answers. Team B asks a question, Team A answers, and so on until the first team figures it out. You can decide if you want them to ask open ended questions ¿Dónde se tipotea? or Yes/No questions ¿Se puede tipotear en la escuela? Personally, I think the game is funnier and harder to figure out with Yes/No questions, but you should just follow your heart.

Tipoteo Scaffolded for Language Learners:

Now you know I believe that our Little Darlings acquire language only one way: by loading them up with lots and lots of comprehensible input! My strategy is to give them as much input as possible, then when they need a break, switch to a game, that loads them up with more input. Tipoteo relies heavily on output but with a bit of scaffolding, you can play it with your language learners. Now I’m not saying that this is the best game for giving them loads of rich input…I think there are better ones for that, but when you want to try something new or give them a little break, this is a fun one!

Play in the same way: Divide the class into two teams, each team writes a verb on a min whiteboard, and display the boards so that only their team can see it. Project this slideshow to assist them in asking questions. Since our goal is always to give them loads of input, after each question and the other team answers, the teacher summarizes all the information we know so far, in slow and comprehensible language. Hmmmm….you can’t tipotear with another person and you usually tipotear when it’s sunny outside. Most people tipotear several times each week, and you can tipotear at school. Hmmm…what could it be?

Although my Spanish 1s could definitely ask questions using the slideshow, I will wait to play this one until the end of the year. I don’t think they know enough verbs yet to make it fun. Definitely try it with your Level 2+ Little Darlings!

To make it a bit more challenging for your upper level students, after they’ve played a few times and are familiar with the game, give them some new language (and less vocabulary scaffolding).

I hope you’re having a glorious fall!

I’m on the tail end of a magnificent October break- I had the pleasure of traveling to Chico, California to spend the day talking CI with the Foreign Language Association of the Sierra Highlands (and playing a zillion games with them!). What a fantastic bunch of passionate language teachers who could not have been more welcoming or generous! Thank you so much for inviting me, I had he best time with you lovely folks!

Then, the very next day I flew to Florida to spend the week with Lauren, one of my oldest and dearest friends. It’s been years since we’ve seen each other and we had a lot of catching up to do! So much has happened since this dang pandemic: a new dog, husband and baby! We celebrated our birthdays and 30 years of friendship by checking off a bucket list dream: swimming with manatees in Crystal River. (You should know that this is the only place you’re legally allowed to swim with them, and don’t worry, there are a lot of rules and regulations to keep these gentle giants safe! You’re not allowed to pursue them or harass them or reach for them. Passive observation only! But if you hold really still and pray real hard, they just might approach you.) You guys, a 200 pound baby manatee was curious enough to come up and give me a smooch! IT WAS THE HIGHLIGHT OF MY LIFE! I still can’t believe this really happened…


  1. I’ve played this game for years but always called it “chimar!” I think I found it on a site from Spain like 15 years ago!


  2. OMG! The smoochie from the manatee is so amazing! I a so glad you were able to go catch up with your dear friend! I miss you and the CR crew… Have a fabulous Thanksgiving, AnneMarie!


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