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Heads Down, Thumbs Up



BORROWED FROM / INSPIRED BY: Traditional Heads Down Thumbs Up game


GRAMMAR: 'Be' Verb

EXAMPLEAre you from China?

DATE ADDED:Feb 20, 2012


15-30 min.
3 Votes: 4.5 Stars

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BRIEF OUTLINE: Students desperately try to find the mystery people from China and Australia in this rather simple and fun game that really gets them practicing the phrase, "Are you from China?"





  1. Explain to the students that there are 10 Australians and 1 Chinese person somewhere in the room 'hiding' among them. Their job is to track them down.
  2. Make the class put their heads down and thumbs up (I'm sure you're more familiar with the traditional heads down thumbs up game).
  3. You will then walk quietly down the classroom and pinch 10 students thumbs ONCE. These ten students are the Australians.
  4. Pinch 1 students thumb TWICE. This student is the lucky (Or unlucky) Chinese person.
  5. On your instructions, the students will then uncover their eyes and walk around the room trying to find the 1 Chinese person and 10 Australians by asking the questions, "Are you from Australia/China?" Obviously, if they were not pinched or the country is wrong, they will answer, "No I'm not." If they are indeed from China or Australia, they will answer, "Yes, I am."
    5) Upon finding a 'mystery person,' the students will then write the mystery persons name down in the appropriate place on the printout.
    6) Once they've found all 10 Australians and the Chinese person, they will then go to the front of the room to receive a hanko/stamp/sticker/signature from yourself or the Japanese teacher.



  • Of course, the 'mystery people' can be from anywhere of your choosing, depending on what vocabulary you're teaching (America, India, Guatamala, the moon). It really is up to you.
  • This game can be used for different grammar points (question and answer) if you want to make boring dialogues a little more fun. I've done it before and it worked fine.



  • It's sometimes good to put a limit on the number of hankos/stickers you give. Then the students will try extra hard to finish quicker and put more effort into it.
  • It's a rather easy game to execute, but a rather difficult game to explain. So, maybe it's best that the Japanese teacher explain the rules if you are having difficulty.
  • Repeating and practicing the sentences and dialogue is essential before the game.
  • It's probably good to give a round 2 and 3. They usually beg me for it if they didn't get a stamp and sticker the first time.
  • This game is actually rather relaxing once it's underway, despite it being rather noisy. You don't really need to do anything. It's all up to the students. If they're good kids, all you need to do is just wait at the front of the class like a king, waiting to give them their reward.



  • Obviously, you have very little control over how this game is carried out, so maybe it's not appropriate for destructive kids. In saying that, it has actually worked very well for me with destructive kids in the past...and I worked at a pretty rough school in Osaka.
  • The kids will obviously try to cheat by listening to the answers from their friends, so it's probably best to walk among them and light-heartedly 'enforce the law.'
  • If a student doesn't look like he/she's trying, it's sometimes good to walk right up to them and ask, "Are you from Australia?" to get them involved.
  • Girls and boys at this age tend to be scared of one another, so the game may take a while.
  • Friends tend to share their answers and work together as a team, so again, you need to enforce the law a little and encourage each student to do their answer sheet alone.
  • It's inevitable that a few dummies and less enthusiastic students will ask/answer the questions in Japanese. This is something beyond your control, unfortunately.
  • After the students have uncovered their eyes, it's probably best to do a countdown to start the game. 5-4-3-2-1...START!

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This page was last modified on Sunday, March 04, 2012 09:52:51 PM