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 General GameAlmost Mario Cart


SUBMITTED BY: Scott Foss / Anne Recinos


DATE ADDED:Oct 14, 2008


  Small Classes (1-15 Students)ÒLarge Classes (16-39 Students)ÓHuge Classes (40+ Students)ÔBad/Misbehaved ClassesÕ


35-50 min.

32 votes: 4.5-stars

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BRIEF OUTLINE: A racing game inspired by Mario Kart where any group, no matter how badly they are losing, can start winning at any moment, which keeps all groups attentive. This game can be used with most grammar points. Practices primarily listening and writing.



  • AlmostMarioKart attachments: Includes characters and power-Ups.
    • There are eight Characters so you can have up to eight groups of students

    • It is recommended you laminate both the Characters and Power-Ups so they don't get destroyed

    • For purpose of reducing file size, you will need to copy/paste Power-Ups into their appropriate boxes

    • Adjust the size of the Characters and Power-ups to size desire
    • A box ("item box") for reaching in to draw Power-Up cards from.
    • At least one normal 6-sided dice (three recommended).
    • A piece of paper per group to write on.          


  1. PRE-GAME:

    • Have about ten questions or problems on the topic to be studied ready at the beginning of class. On classes when I didn't need to explain the rules, I would get thru about 6 or 7.

    • Explain the rules of the game and the effects of the Power-Up cards (see below). This instruction should only be needed the first time you play the game with that class, unless you alter the rules to fit your style.

    • Have enough characters made for each group and distribute accordingly. See Teaching Suggestions for the way I distribute my characters.

    • Draw a racing track that goes around the chalkboard with individual spots big enough to accommodate multiple characters in one spot at a time. A checkered line would be a good indicator for a start line, and the finish is when the class ends!


    • Ask the target question aloud (listening practice) or item to be translated, etc.

    • Give the kids X minutes to work out the answer to the problem. (writing, reading practice)

    • After X minutes, call time, and have a group member from each group come to the teacher(s) with their answer written down.

    • Check the answers. I have the kids read me the answer (speaking practice) then I read their written sentence, correcting in red the mistakes while explaining the mistakes quickly. If necessary I have them go to the JTE for a more thorough explanation.

    • Students with incorrect sentences sit down. They and their teams are done for this round.

    • Students with correct sentences wait in a designated area.

    • Once all sentences are checked, the kids with correct answers janken (Rock/Paper/Scissor) to find a single person who will eventually draw a power-up card.

    • The Janken winner goes to the back of the line made by the correctly answered group representatives the order of the line otherwise does not matter.

    • Everyone in the correct-answer line rolls a dice once, including the Janken winner. This is how far their character advances on the board. After that team's character has been moved that student sits down, until only the Janken winner remains.

    • After the Janken winner rolls the dice once and their character moves, just like everyone else with a correct answer, he/she draws a power-up card from the item box.

    • The Janken winner uses the power-up card as pre-explained before the start of the game (Power-Ups explained below). After the card has been used, the Janken winner sits down.

    • The game moves into the next round, which simply means it's the next team member's turn.

    • Keep playing until the end of class or right before to allow prize time.


  1. The winner is the team that is farthest along the track, just like any other race called by time.

  2. My method of choice to solve a tie is a "dice-off". The teams who tie, each roll a dice, advancing forward the number that comes up repeating until one gets an advantage. Other methods could be a "Janken-off."


POWER-UP EXPLANATION (I will use Mario Kart terminology for quickest understanding.)


    • Power-ups are printed on square paper sheets 2-3 cm long. (One power up per sheet)

    • I use a total of 40 different power-up cards. In the descriptions below, the number in parenthesis next to the power-up name is the amount of cards of that type I have in the item box.

  2. POWER-UP FUNCTIONS (Note: the PULLER is the Janken winner who pulls the card out)

    • GREEN TURTLE SHELL (5)- The team directly in front of the puller's team gets knocked back the number of squares that is a dice roll divided by two and rounded up if needed. So, a dice roll of 4 or 3 would knock the next team back 2 spaces. If multiple teams are in that box, I have those teams janken and the loser being the one to be hit. I do half the number of the roll because a team not in first place ends up usually being the team hit. If the puller is in first place, it is a wasted pull.

    • RED TURTLE SHELL (4)- The puller gets to choose which team, from the teams ahead of the puller's team, gets hit. That team to be hit goes back by the number that comes up in a dice roll. Since red turtle shells can be targeted, most of the time the are targeted at leading teams, which is my justification for using the whole number. If the puller is in first place, it is a wasted pull.

    • BLUE TURTLE SHELL (2)- Every team in front of the puller's team gets knocked back a number of squares. The first place team goes backward the number of spots that comes up in a dice roll, all others half that dice roll (rounded up, if needed). So for example, if I were in 4th place and drew a blue shell, then roll a 5, the 1st place team goes back 5 spots, and the 2nd and 3rd place teams each go back 3. If the puller is in first place, it is a wasted pull.

    • BANANA PEEL (3)- The puller rolls two times (or two die at once), and the banana gets "thrown" to the spot ahead of the puller equal to the total roll. Then, as teams pass that spot on a successive round, the team(s) that moved over that spot Jankens the ALT or JTE. If the teacher wins, that team "slips" on the peel and stops there. If the student wins, they get to finish their movement. Multiple teams can potentially hit the same banana peel so long as it's in the same round, but once at least one team moves on or over the square with it, once that round is over, I put the peel back in the item box. The throwing team can hit their own peel (just like in Mario Kart!).

    • SINGLE MUSHROOM (8) - The puller gets to roll the dice again and move forward the number of spots that come up on the dice.

    • GOLD MUSHROOM (4) - Like the single mushroom, but two additional rolls are given (or two dice at once).

    • TRIPLE MUSHROOM (3) - Like the other mushroom cards, but three additional rolls are given (or three dice at once).

    • GHOST (6) - Simplest item in the game, it's a non-powerup. Nothing happens. Nada. Nanimo. Just put it back in the box and sit down!

    • FAKE ITEM BOX / TRAP BOX (4) - The worst item! The puller's team gets knocked back a number of spots determined by a dice roll!

    • STAR (1) - The BEST item! If the puller is in first place or tied for first, the STAR is treated as a single mushroom. If the puller is not, then the puller's team automatically gets transported to the spot just behind the first place team, then gets to roll the dice once more and move from there. (The spot just behind is chosen because there is a 1/6 chance of a dice roll of one, ensuring a well deserved 1st place isn't flat out taken away.)



  • For power-ups pulled from the item box, I put them back in the box but you can leave them out (or choose which ones stay out, which ones go back in).

  • Banana peels can stay in play forever once thrown on the track, or conversely hit the first team only to ride over it.

  • Other obvious adjustments can be made to fit your style (more of a certain power up, less of another, etc). This is how it works for me, but for you?

  • If you can create enough characters, you could potentially have 1 person teams!

  • If you have so a lot of teams, you can choose to have more than one person be a puller of power-ups.



  • I know the above instructions may seem long and complicated, but I wanted to ensure 100% understanding. An actual explanation to a class takes about 10 minutes, one time. Students understand and like Mario Kart, so this game is learnt real fast! It was initially inspired from the video game. The students like it because it's fun and unpredictable, and I like it because even the last place group always has a chance to become first place so long as they get the question/translation/whatever correct, which means that all the kids in the class tend to try to get the answer correct at all time. Other games I've played, the group with the "smart" kids tended to become the only groups that would try.

  • PRE-GAME: I explained my reasons for a lot of my rules, for example see GREEN TURTLE SHELL, but you don't need to explain these nuances to the students.

  • CHARACTER DISTRIBUTION: I go to each group with all the characters in hand, have one kid from the group roll a dice, then count thru the character sheets the same number of times as the number that came up on the dice. This eliminates bickering among the groups (and sometimes leads to hilarious results when an all-male team gets a princess type character) and saves time. Furtherly, on a small section of the chalkboard I make a small name-chart to help keep in mind what character the teams are. So for example, using Mario Kart Terminology again, if the team that received the character Donkey Kong was in the front right, I'd write on the board "DK" at the top right. - I draw a start/finish checkered line, but even if someone passes it we keep playing until the end of the period.

  • IN GAME:

    • For translation problems and the like, My JTE's and I would have the JTE read the Japanese to be translated then I correct, and vice versa when it's English to be translated into Japanese.

    • So long as the kids say "One more time please," (IN ENGLISH), I'll repeat the problem as many times as needed within the time limit.

    • I always "give" 2 minutes, but on problems that appear tough, I let allow more time, and vice versa for easier ones.

    • Use of the textbook can be permitted at you and your JTE's discretion. My JTE and I generally agree that the harder/newer a topic is, the more likely we will allow the textbook.

    • If you want, announce time remaining notices; "30 seconds!" "10! 9! 8! ..." etc.

    • While checking the answers, it's up to you and your JTE over how strict you are, for example, if capital letters are missing, no apostrophe, etc.

    • MAKE SOUNDS! My kids love it when I make the whooshing and explosion sounds of a turtle shell flying and hitting another team.

    • Instead of teleporting to the spot the dice tells them to go to, move their character one spot at a time counting outloud in English.


    • Like Mario Kart at the end of a Circuit (or the Olympics), I put the top three characters on a pedestal (drawn on the chalkboard).

    • You can give the winners prizes if you want (stickers, etc). Furtherly, you can choose to give higher placed teams more of the prize (3 stickers to first place team members, 2 to second place, and 1 to the third place team, or other methods).



Like any activity or game, have fun but watch out that the kids don't get TOO loud. The next class over needs to study, too. Like any group-based game, try your best to ensure that a single person doesn't do all the work for a group. 

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