‘If you don’t know where you are going, you might wind up someplace else.’
A ‘maze’ principle has been widely used in ELT material design, in particular for reading assignments, where students are given different options and a variety of different outcomes. There isn’t one correct answer, so different teams find themselves taking different paths while practising the language in a genuinely communicative activity. If you have never tried them with your students, check these reading mazes on the British Council website – Spending Maze or Holiday Maze. They’re sure to be a hit with your students.
The a-Maze-ing Game is based on a ‘board maze’ principle (it looks like a maze, and it works like a maze). This game can be used as a learning tool for grammar or vocabulary and help revise prepositions of place and direction.
It’s a very simple game, where the player is placed in a maze and has to find a treasure chest and find a way out. This game is designed for playing in pairs.
Materials needed: 1 A4 sheet of paper per student.
Before the game:
Each player will need two 4×4 grids – one with ‘walls’, and one blank grid. You can either prepare them in advance or have your learners make their own mazes (low cost and more learning value).
Hand out two halves of an A4 sheet to each student. They have to fold each sheet in half 4 times to get a 4 by 4 grid and label them along the sides with letters (A-D) and numbers (1-4). Ask them to mark an entrance and exit to the maze on the outer walls of the maze (e.g.A1 and C4).
Now have them put 9 walls in the maze (a wall – a square border) and hide their treasure chest (T).
Have students mark 4 squares with “Hint” (H).
Get students to choose and fill in the grid with 10 words (These could be any language items – 10 irregular verbs, 10 phrasal verbs, 10 letters, 10 phonemes, etc.).
How to play:
The players take turns to move in the maze by calling out the coordinates of a square. A player is allowed to move one square up, down, left or right. Players cannot go through walls. Before the game, players may agree on the entrance to the maze, e.g. A1. The aim of the game is to find the treasure chest and exit the maze.
When the player lands on the square with the word, they explain what the word means (or make up a sentence with it, which is true about them or their friends). If the player fails to define the word/make up a sentence with it, they skip their turn. If they move to the same square again, they have to make a new sentence. When the player lands on the “Hint”square, the opponent should give away the location of the nearest wall.
During the play, players should record their moves on the blank grid drawing the walls and noting down the words.
Whoever manages to find the treasure chest and exit the maze first wins the game.
One square in the maze remains blank (usually the square with the exit) – let your students decide on the final challenge.