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No Dice!

No Dice: U.S. informal: something that people say when you may not or cannot do something:
I asked if we could go to the party, but Mom said no dice.


Have you ever set up a board game only to find that you don’t have any dice or counters? The counters are usually not a problem as we can substitute them with coins or objects, but dice are more problematic. This has happened to me a number of times when working away from my own schoolroom. Today I’m going to write about using InTense! without the need for dice and the game is appropriately called “No Dice”. “InTense!” is a board game which can be used with any tense you choose to practice. The game has a foldable XL playing board, 90 regular verb cards, 90 irregular verb cards, these cards include 20 negative cards for producing negative statements and 20 question cards for producing questions, and nine guide cards which can be discarded once you and your students get used to the game. Each card has a verb, noun and picture printed on it and the basic objective is for students to form sentences from these in the chosen tense.




Let me give you a few examples:


Card: clean/toilet

My brother is cleaning the toilet.


Card: speak/English
I speak English.


Card: play/keyboard
She played the keyboard.





Very basic sentences so far and that is the way I would start off, though some students may initially find even this difficult as they are not yet sure what is expected of them.


You may want to briefly introduce the formation of simple sentences before playing “No Dice!”


The first time you play don’t use any question or negative cards, just take out 6 fairly simple regular cards and 6 fairly simple irregular cards, put two of each on the “continuous” panel, 4 regular cards on the “regular” panel on 4 irregular cards on the “irregular” panel. There is a basic rule that you must follow and that is that each sentence you produce must have a minimum of three words correctly ordered (you can change this minimum to any number you wish to so as to make the game challenging even for advanced and native speakers). The initial and any subsequent card can be taken from any panel. When a student fails to string together a minimum of three words, then it’s “No dice!” and the counter (use just two counters and always move the rearmost one) remains where it is. A “dice” square lets you pick any card for an additional play. Take any card when landing on a “bee” or “fish” square and move back the number of words in your sentence (do not discount errors).  Tenses, colors and 3-card squares are inconsequential to this particular game.


If you decide to use the question and negative cards then it may go something like this.


Card: cook/lunch

My mother is cooking lunch in the kitchen.


Card: have/hotdog

Bill didn’t have a hotdog, he had a sandwich.




Example due:


Card: eat/cheesecake
“My mother eat cheesecake.”
“No dice!” It’s should be: My mother ate cheesecake. or My mother eats cheesecake.


What if the student said this?
“My mother ate strawberry cheesecake.”


Well, in this case the student would move the counter forward five positions, one position for each word.


In another scenario a student says.
“My mother ate cheesecake strawberry.”



Since two words are out of order he would lose two points, but keep 3 because he satisfied the ‘3 in a row’ rule.




So far we have kept the sentences very simple by answering to just two questions which we need to pose in our minds. “Who?” and “What?” “What” as to the action and “What” as to the object. It can be surprisingly easy, surprising for both teacher and student, to make longer sentences by posing an additional question or questions in our minds (you may want to write the question words on the board). Let’s try by using “Who?”, “What?” and “Where?”


Card: study/science
“My friend and I are drinking strawberry milkshake in the cafe.” (11 points)



You are still keeping it fairly simple in adding the questions “When?” and “Why?”, though the increased complexity of the sentences is almost certain to result in additional errors. If too many errors are being committed, then just roll back some of the questions and of course, in real life, we don’t often recite such long sentences. The game is over when both counters reach the finish or when all the cards are used up. For longer games use additional cards and counters.


In a future post I will talk about playing the actual game of “InTense!”

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