When we try to pack up a set of lessons with the label “Italian for children,” we encounter several challenges. First of all, a child’s attention span is shorter than an adult’s. And their background is also quite limited. But if we manage to engage them, we will convert them into devoted learners.
Italian for children
How can we persuade a child to learn Italian? We have discovered an effective way. Speak to them in their language. In English? No, in the language of games!
“Learning by playing” is exciting for children and grown-ups. And with this approach, you have struck gold because kids have phenomenal visual and auditory memory. So, the important thing is to stimulate them with something that interests them.
Below are four simple and fun games for children. The first two of these games are for the outdoors. Make sure there is enough space for the kids to play. The last two games on the list are suited for everywhere. So, there is no excuse to play when you’re inside a house, outdoors, riding in the car on a trip, wherever.
“The old lady commands color!” (La vecchia signora comanda il colore!)
A traditional game for children. It is also called “The old lady touches color.”
The old lady is a player that captures the other children. The game starts with one player playing “the old lady.”
The old lady says the sentence “the old lady commands color…” followed by the name of a color.
For example, the old lady commands red. Then, the other players must look for a red object color and save themselves by touching it.
The old lady’s task is to capture one of the other players by touching him. Any player is safe from the old lady by touching an object with the appointed color.
The captured player becomes the “old lady” in the next round.
This game is suitable for children of all ages. It is helpful to teach them the colors.
“Wolf eats fruit!” (il lupo mangia la frutta!)
The game structure is similar to “The old lady commands color.” The only difference is that the “wolf” must capture only one child.
A child will need to start as the wolf. And each of the other kids has to think about a fruit they want to be. One unique fruit is allowed per child.
A “safe place” area is also defined. Kids need to run to this safe place to escape the wolf.
So, to start the game, kids need to line up far from the location designated as the safe place. The starting point for the wolf is between the safe place and the lined-up kids.
Each of the lined-up kids says out loud the fruit he will be. And the game begins.
Wolf: “Toc, Toc” (onomatopoeia for knocking)
Kids: “Who is it?” (Chi è?”)
Wolf: “I am the fruit-eating wolf!” (Sono il lupo che mangia la frutta!)
Kids: “What fruit do you eat?” (Che frutta mangi?)
Then the wolf shouts a fruit and immediately tries to catch the kid/fruit he just named. All the kids try to reach the safe place before being caught by the wolf.
Comparing this game to “The old lady commands color,” it has an additional layer of difficulty. The wolf must remember the fruit named by each kid.
This game is fun and allows you to teach the children the name of the fruits.
After kids have advanced in their knowledge of colors and fruits, you could make kids combine colors with fruits. That means a child could be a green apple and another one a red apple.
“The ship” (Il bastimento)
Do you spend time with your kids at lunch? Any time is right to play this game. It is the first on this list that you can play anywhere.
One player is selected to start as the spokesman. He starts the game with the phrase “a ship has arrived loaded with…” (e’ arrivato un bastimento carico di….) and picks a letter of the alphabet.
For example, he may choose the letter M. At this point, all the children must, in turn, say a word that begins with the letter “M.” The child that does not know a word that starts with M goes out of the game. The last child remaining wins.
This game is engaging. It serves to increase vocabulary without the boredom of having to memorize it.
“The word chain game” (le parole incatenate)
Finally, the last game on our list is also a word game. Thus, you can also play it anywhere.
One child starts with a noun. The next kid has to say another one that begins with the same letter or has a similar meaning. For example, the first child could say “banana” (banana), and the chain can continue with “pear” (pera) or “boy” (bambino).
This game adds vocabulary to the child’s inventory without sounding like a real Italian lesson.
We also encourage you to come up with variants of these games. Or even invent some new from scratch.
Try to make the most of your time with your kids. Even looking at the sky, for example, you can learn the name of the geometric shapes (square, rectangle, triangle, circle). Passing clouds (le nuvole) will be your models.
Finally, there is an app that teaches Italian using gamification. And the app is free. You can do all the Italian courses without paying a single dime. To check it out, click here.
And now… Buon divertimento!!!