Is your child having trouble memorizing Italian vocabulary? Below, Italian tutor Nadia B. shares four fun games that will help your child learn vocabulary while still having fun…
One of the keys to helping children learn Italian–or any language for that matter–is to keep it fun and encourage use of the language. The following Italian vocabulary games accomplish both goals.
In between Italian lessons, play these fun games with your child. You never know, you might pick up a few Italian vocabulary words yourself!
Chances are you’re already familiar with the word guessing game, charades. Charades is a fun way to stimulate a child’s imagination, and the best part is you can customize the game for whatever your child needs to work on.
If he or she needs to work on memorizing verbs, for example, you can write different verbs–such as ridere (to laugh), scrivere (to write), pensare (to think)–on index cards, then ask your child to act out the verb.
You can make it as simple or as complex as you like. The only rule is that all discussions must be done in…yes, you guessed it, Italian!
2. Who Am I?
Write out a list of individuals on small strips of paper; for example, l’insegnante (teacher), la studentessa (student), il fratello (brother), l’avvocato ( lawyer), etc. If the child has a good understanding of Italian culture, you can try listing well-known Italian figures such as il Papa, Jovanotti, Dante, etc.
Next, choose a strip of paper and tape it to the child’s back so he or she can’t see it. Then, have the child take turns asking questions in Italian about who she or he is. You can give the child suggestions for questions to ask; for example, Sono maschio o femmina? (Are they male or female?), Quanti anni ho? (How old am I?), and Sono ancora vivo/a? ( Am I still alive?)
As the questions become more complex, the more the child will practice his or her Italian vocabulary. If the child doesn’t know a particular word, encourage him or her to look it up or simple ask how to say it. The game is concluded when the child has discovered his or her identity.
3. I Spy
First, gather a set of index cards. On half the cards, create a mark with a colored marker or crayon. On the remaining cards, write out the name of an object in the room. Keep the two sets of cards separate.
Next, ask the child to choose a card from each pile. After choosing a colored card and object card, the child will have to identify the specific colored object in the room and form the sentence, “I spy a ______”. If the child chooses the object door and the color white, for example, he or she will form the sentence, Vedo una porta bianca. (I see a white door.)”
Gather a set of index cards and some dice. On half of the cards write the phrase, Mi piace/piacciono ___” (I like ___). On the other half, write the phrase, Non mi piace/piacciono ___ (I don’t like ____). Then, place all of the index cards in a bag.
Next, ask the child to pick a card from the bag and roll the die. Whatever number he or she rolls is the number of items or actions he or she must list. For example, if the number three is rolled, the child must list three things he or she likes or dislikes depending on which card he or she picked.
Using these Italian vocabulary games will make practice fun and exciting! Encourage your child to come up with exciting alterations to the games, as there are many variations in how they can be played.
Nadia B. teaches Italian in New York, NY. She graduated summa cum laude from New York University, with a double degree in Italian Language and Literature and Classical Music Performance. Learn more about Nadia here!
Photo by Marino González