Start off simple and slow. You don’t have to start off with a complete deck. Aim to gradually increase difficulty and speed over time by adding new cards to the mix, or adjusting how the games are played as players progress.
Consider students’ needs interests and abilities when deciding what game play method and level of playing cards to use.
Remember – it’s OK if players encounter unknown concepts, vocabulary or grammar. It’s an opportunity to learn, and if a player doesn’t completely understand first time, there will be many further chances to practice a given learning target in future games. (i.e. as decks of cards, AGO content typically repeats itself in random order each time you play, so material gets mixed up and covered many times).
Try to reinforce positive behaviours and (lightheartedly) punish negative ones. (such as adding a penalty for non-English chatter – as described in more detail later on).
Timing: Some games take a predictable amount of time (i.e. a game finishes once cards run out). Others continue until someone reaches an objective – and thus will sometimes finish quickly, and other times drag on and on (such as last card). If a game finishes too quickly, try re-dealing the winning player in, or keep them involved through assisting another player, or helping to manage the game. If a game is dragging on… you can call ‘one minute left’, and after this expires, the player closest to finishing (e.g. in the case of Last Card, the player with fewest cards in their hand), wins!
The AGO supplementary apps can be used as ‘learning scaffolds’ – adding a voice to unknown words and sentences, or in the case of the Q&A games adding in extra vocabulary and examples.
When using the apps in small groups, or with young kids, we recommend using over-ear headphones so that only the player wearing them can hear the prompts (i.e. if a child is having trouble reading a word, they can put headphones on, look the word up, then say it). This takes away kids tendency to just whack a whole bunch of buttons in order to make as much noise as they can! With headphones, the focus also subtly changes – children seem to make more of an effort to answer independent of the app, and can take pride in this.