The first time I tested the game it was still just an idea. It was an early dismissal day at the end of the year. My fifth graders had completed their assignment and we had 15 minutes to spare, just enough for a test game. “Lets play a game!” was all I had to say and they were sold on whatever I was selling them.
The first challenge was the words. I had no cards. So the kids would have to make up their own. So I handed out little squares of paper and gave the first direction, “Write down one adjective.” A few heads bowed and began writing, a few others looked thoughtful, but many of them stared at me blankly. “Ok, lets review, what’s an adjective? Remember, language arts happens in more than just your language arts classroom.”
“A describing word,” shouted out one of the students already writing. I ignored the fact that he had shouted out instead of raising his hand (we only had 15 minutes and I hadn’t budgeted time for reviewing parts of speech) and continued, “Yes! And adjective is a describing word. Who can give me an example of an adjective or a describing word. Go ahead, shout them out.”
“Smelly!” “Smart!” “Fast!” “Fancy” “Gigantic!” “Crazy!” words came from around the room. The bleary eyed students got the idea and started shouting out their own adjectives.
“Great! You got it! Now think of an adjective and right it on your square. Then fold it in half and go put it in the bin labeled Adjectives.”
While they worked on brainstorming their adjectives I gave them all two more squares.
“Ok, next! Write down two different nouns.” and before I could get the stares, “And who can tell me what a noun is?”
This time a hand went up. “Yes, Jack, what’s a noun?”
“A person, place or thing,” he smiled.
“Or idea!” of course the shouter needed to add his two cents.
“Yes, a noun is a person, place, thing or idea. But remember, someone else is going to have to draw the noun you write down, so you may want to avoid ideas. A 'school' would probably be easier to illustrate than 'education', right?”
They nodded emphatically in agreement and began writing their nouns.
Then came verbs. I was ready. I knew adverbs were going to be more trouble then they were worth, it was supposed to be fun after all.
“Ok, last, write down one verb ending in ING. Who can tell me what a verb is and give me an example of one ending in ING?” We went through the process and finished up writing words.
Then I demonstrated how to pick one paper from the adjective bin, two from the noun box, and one from the verb bowl. Then I showed them my words: Strong, Cat, Cow, Running and drew a quick sketch of a muscular cat with spots, hooves, and utters running with a marathoner's bib.
“See? You have to get creative! How will you combine your two nouns? How will you show your verb and adjective? But keep your words secret! Have fun, do your best and then share your drawings with your table-mates and see if you can guess each others words!”
Their eyes lit up. They quickly collected their little squares of folded paper. Some laughing as they pieced their words together, some exclaiming, “what!?,” while others came to me for help deciphering their classmates handwriting or to exchange their word for one of the proper part of speech. Some giggled as they drew while others concentrated with furrowed brows. Then, as tables started to share, came the undeniable noise of children playing a game. Shouting, laughing, pointing, urging, guessing, giving hints. “Ohhhhhh! You’re sooooo close!” “That’s totally a hamburger!” “No way, its cake!” “What letter does it start with?” “Yeah! You got it!!!”
In the end, we only had time for one round that first day... and just barely, but the kids had a great time. The next time their class came to art several students asked, “Are we going to play that game again?!” It was a huge success. Since that first day, I’ve played with many more of my classes. Düdle has become a standard “free time” and reward activity. That has motivated me even more to get official Düdle cards printed as a way to cut down on the waste of all those little scraps of paper and eliminate having to weed out illegible, incorrect, and inappropriate words thought up by students.
So stay tuned fellow teachers! Soon you’ll be able to get your own copy of Düdle for your classroom!