written by: Sarah Smith
I will start with the games that we play using the vocabulary picture cards from A Primer for Biblical Hebrew. I made four copies of each card and laminated them to ensure longevity.
Memory: Most everyone knows how to play this game—just choose as many pairs of cards as you want and lay them face down in rows. Take turns flipping two cards at a time, and if you find a match you get to keep it. You can add a further layer to the game and require the player to say the Hebrew word and English translation before they can keep the match.
Jumping Jehoshaphat (a version of “Slap Jack”): Our children get particularly enthusiastic during this game! Divide the cards evenly between two players, making sure each player starts with the same number of every vocabulary picture in the deck. Players hold their stacks face down and simultaneously flip their top card face up onto the playing surface. If the two pictures match, the first player to call out the Hebrew word that fits the picture gets both stacks of cards. We usually require the child to give the translation before they pick up the stacks. If they cannot, play continues with the stacks remaining on the table. NOTE: This game works best when you keep the number of different vocabulary words lower, but include in the deck several copies of each vocabulary card, (four copies of each vocab picture seems ideal).
Bingo: Create a bingo “board” by arranging the vocab cards in lines and rows, (your choice whether you want the “board” 5 cards long with three rows, or more). Leave aside one vocab card for each word and use these to create the draw pile. Have the players take turns drawing one card from the pile and announcing the Hebrew word and its translation. Anyone with that card on their “board” gets to cover it, (you can use coins, pebbles, buttons…or anything of your choice). The first person to complete a line, row, or diagonal line goes “Bingo”.
Go Fish: This card game converts very easily to using the vocabulary cards.
Let me know if you have any other vocabulary card games you have discovered. I would love to post them for others to enjoy. There is a link at the bottom of the page for you to write to us.
The “store-bought” game that we have used the most is the Hebrew version of Bananagrams. You can play Hebrew Scrabble with them, though it can be a little tricky trying to build words without the tiles touching when playing with a beginning Hebrew student, (because most of the words they know are short). Where I found the Bananagrams to really shine was in teaching about Hebrew syllables and how to divide them. The ability to physically separate the words into syllable clumps sharpened the children’s understanding and made it fun. You must know how to identify individual syllables to be able to read Hebrew aloud, and it is my firm belief that you will never fully master biblical Hebrew unless you are comfortable with reading it OUT LOUD!
Another game we have enjoyed is Parsh-O. The basic concept is identical to the number game “Racko”, but instead of ordering your cards numerically, you arrange them according to Hebrew vocabulary words. You can decide the level of learning intensity you want to achieve with this game: you can use the Hebrew letters or the English transliteration. You can arrange the cards, (and win the game!) without knowing the meaning of the words, or you can take the time to read and/or give the translation for each card drawn. As a bonus, the colors and artwork on the cards are really beautiful.