A Jeopardy game even 6th graders can play!

In my short stint as a junior high ALT, one of the most popular review games was Jeopardy. The school I was first assigned to had Jeopardy games to review at the end of almost every chapter. But, they say, Jeopardy games are 100% language based and there’s no way to adapt Jeopardy to the elementary level. Not so! I have done it and here are my categories.

Of course, just like most junior high level adaptions of Jeopardy, this variation just uses the point system from the TV game show and does not insist that players answer in the form of a question.

In class I refer to the categories as “topics” as that is a readily understood katakana English loanword. The different numbers are levels. I build the “topics” and “point levels” in a grid on the board with papers and magnets. Technically you can just have topic papers and write the numbers in chalk, but chalk dust hurts my dry, battered hands in the winter and I avoid it. Also, it’s so much easier to just move the paper with the points printed on it over to a group’s cluster of points rather than re-add up the total each time they get points like in real Jeopardy.

I have the kids play games in groups. Each group acts as a team. I have the whole class play “Ousama Jyanken”/Rock-Paper-Scissors against me and the grand champ gets to pick a “topic” and a “level”. I “Vanna White” it and gesture heavily to make sure they know what they’re supposed to be choosing. Then, I read off the question corresponding to the topic and point level they’ve chosen. Anyone is able to answer any question asked. The group that gets the question right gets to choose the next topic/point level/question. I rewarded the winning group at the end of the game with a sheet of Star Wars stickers because I’m the best.

The questions I used are as follows. Many are open ended questions that the students must simply respond to appropriately to get the points. Most, but not all, are contingent on having completed Hi! Friends 2. Make sure your kids actually had lessons on time and dates and whatnot before you add those questions to your own roster.


20 What’s your name?

40 What’s my name?

60 What’s your teacher’s name?

80 What’s Darth Vader’s name? (Anakin Skywalker)

100 What’s Harry Potter’s mama’s name? (Lily Potter nee Evans)

By “my” I mean my own name. By “teacher” I mean their homeroom teacher. I point as I ask to clarify. The Harry Potter and Star Wars questions always get them a buzz. It’s so cute. And yes. Once a kid responded incorrectly to “What’s your name?” and all his peers gave him shit for like 10 minutes.

And you?

20 My name is X. And you? What’s your name?

40 I like X. And you? What color do you like?

60 My birthday is XX. And you? When is your birthday?

80 I can swim. And you? Can you swim?

100 I go to bed at X o’clock. And you? What time do you go to bed?

All of these questions appear in the Hi! Friends series of books, but not necessarily in YICA. Either way, the point is that I’m modeling the answers for them before asking. Any grammar point will do.

When is?

20 When is your birthday?

40 When is Halloween? (October 31st)

60 When is Christmas? (December 25th)

80 When is Hina Matsuri/The Doll Festival? (March 3rd)

100 When is Seijin no Hi/Coming of Age Day? (January 9th, 2017)

Coming of Age day is the second Monday of the new year so it changes each year. That’s why it’s the 100 point question! Be sure to double check the date if you do this in a year besides 2017. And, clarify that it’s this year’s Coming of Age day when you ask the question.

English Book

20 What’s her name? (Picture of Sakura)

40 What’s his name? (Picture of Taku)

60 When is Taku’s birthday?

80 What time does Sakura go to bed? (9:30PM)

100 On p2~3, how many apples? (100)

This entire category is based on the text book activities. The first two I hold up pictures of the book characters who appear in all the listening quizzes. The last three are contingent on having completed the listening activities as they appear in the teacher’s manual.

How many?

20 How many pages in Hi! Friends 2? (56)

40 How many ABCs? (26)

60 How many Star Wars movies? (8, including Rogue One)

80 How many members in Sekai no Owari? (4)

100 In Youkai Watch, how many members in Keita’s family? (3)

This category is so general that it could be changed a million ways. Very versatile.

What time?

20 What time is it now?

40 What time is lunch?

60 What time is Kouhaku Utagassen finished? (11:45PM)

80 What time is Doraemon (anime)? (7PM Friday)

100 What time is sun-up/sunrise? (6:51AM that day, varies)

Lunch at my schools varies. And, the kids usually ask if I mean the start of lunch hour, or the scheduled time they start to actually eat the food. It’s supposed to be an easy question, but sometimes the pedants get out of hand. Kouhaku is the long running, yearly, NHK New Year’s Eve countdown show. It ends before actual midnight and technically it’s a news broadcast showing temples ringing bells for the last 15 minutes of the year. So, it’s a bit of a trick question. The Doramon anime is on at 7PM on Fridays in Kanto, but check your local listings. Sunrise changes daily, but it’s usually on the news and/or on the weather maps so kids will have a vague idea but will get the question wrong a few dozen times trying to pinpoint the exact minute. It’s great.

Lately I haven’t been using this as an actual, year end activity. Lately, I’ve been using it as the second to last lesson of the year. But, it would also be a good end cap for 6th grade. Japanese TV is full of quiz shows and they just love the trivia part of it. So much less stressful for them than ending on the textbook suggested career speech!

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