Musical Chairs Activity

My Spanish 3 students ended the year with Lit Circles, and I used Allison Wienhold’s (twitter: @SraWienhold; blog: idea to let them choose from a list of projects to show me what they learned at the end.  One student came up with the idea of musical chairs and the more he talked about it, the more and more I liked the idea!

Musical Chairs Listening Activity for Class Novels | Shared by Elizabeth Dentlinger at

Musical Chairs Listening Activity for Class Novels | Shared by Elizabeth Dentlinger at

O.C.’s initial idea was to write summaries of each chapter.  He wanted to play music and when the music stopped he would have the student who came out read the story.  Somehow, after this a student would answer a question about the summary he or she read.  Pretty brilliant that a student came up with this, right?  I helped O.C. tweak the activity – because after the first round it was obvious the student who got out didn’t care about the remaining summaries.  So after the first round, the student that “outted” the student who didn’t get a chair had to read the summary and the “out” student had to answer the question.  The students decided on the spot that if the “out” student got the question correct that he or she could stay in.  This is how the rest of the game went until we were down to three students when the bell rang.  Students were having so much fun that my quietest and shyest student sat upon another’s leg vehemently trying to stay in and the remaining three stayed past the end of the day bell to find out who the remaining two would be.

As much as my students and I loved this activity, there were definitely things that could have been better.  For example, even though students were listening to Spanish music they weren’t really paying attention because they were SO intent on not losing a seat.  I also didn’t like how mainly it was only the “out” student was listening to the summary being read.  Lastly, I wanted a culminating activity at the end.

I plan to use this in the future while reading a novel as a listening activity.  I plan to use it with a new chapter and as students walk around the chairs I will read the chapter to them.  When I stop, the “out” student will have to answer a question based on the section I have read in order to stay in the game.  If the “out” student gets it correct, he or she can stay in.  If not, they will have to sit down.  Most likely what I will have my “out” students do is write a summary of the chapter as I go along to make sure they’re still paying attention to the chapter.  Some alternatives would be to have a Google Form with the question pre-loaded for those that get out, have those students write questions for future sections for me to use, or have them draw what is happening in the chapter.  Most likely my culminating activity will be to have students retell the chapter orally.  I could have the entire chapter sketched out to hand them or I could continue the musical chair part by placing different images from the chapter on each chair, playing Spanish music, and then having students describe the scene on the chair.  In this second version no one would get out though.

Thank you O.C. for this ingenious activity and for our three years together.  There’ll never be another like you!

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