Better Than Hot Potato: SWEET Potato

SweetPotatoHot Potato is always a good stand-by game for practicing all kinds of stuff. You know that game, where you pass around a ball until the music stops, and then whoever is holding the ball is out? Hot Potato is great for language learning because you can get the whole group engaged while everyone is hearing and using the target language over and over again. The only problem is that nobody likes to be “out,” especially young kids. (I am looking at you, kindergarteners!)

Well, I found a way to get around the “out” problem. Good-bye Hot Potato, and hello Sweet Potato! Here’s how you play:

  • Play exactly like Hot Potato, except…
  • When someone is “out,” reward the person who came immediately before. (For example, if Megan passes the ball to Jay and the music stops while Jay is holding the ball, then Megan wins.)

Simple, huh? But simple works with the little ones. The reward doesn’t even have to be tangible, you can just encourage everyone to say “Hooray! Megan is the winner!” and everybody is happy.

BONUS TIP: With my Pre-K age kids (3-4 years old), I play this game with one small difference: Instead of the kids passing the ball around a circle, each child passes the ball back to me after every turn. That way I get lots of turns, and since I keep one eye on my timer I somehow manage to be holding the ball when the timer goes off EVERY TIME. They laugh uproariously every time, and comment to each other on how terrible I am at this game. 😉


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