Do you need a quick, FUN and easy way to put your students into small groups to practice speaking or to play language games like I do? I put my students into smaller groups almost every day, and I like to make sure that the groups are varied so that students aren't working with the same person each time. You can use paint chips from your local hardware store to accomplish this with pizazz! It just so happens that I've been saving paint chips from our various home projects over the years. Somehow I knew that I'd find a use for them someday :). And then I heard a speaker mention this idea at a workshop I was at a few weeks ago.
Cut the paint chips into individual strips or squares, then put all the chips of one color (they can even be different hues of that color) into Ziploc bags. You can see from the photo that I have bags of yellow, orange, green, purple and brown. Then if I wanted to put my class into groups of 3, I would take 3 chips from each bag (until I had the same number of chips as students in the class) and drop them into a basket. As students enter the class, you ask them to take a chip. And then you tell all the purples to find each other, and so on. An added benefit for me is that I can tell my students to find their colors in French, and therefore use this as an opportunity to review at the same time :). It has occurred to me that students would catch onto this idea quickly and might try and take the same color as their friends after a while, defeating my purpose of mixing up the groups frequently. A solution to this would be just to hand out the chips randomly rather that to allow students to choose their own.
Other ideas mentioned for grouping students in a similar manner included cutting small photos into pieces and asking students to find the other pieces of their photo, and giving students lyrics to a popular song and asking them to find others with lyrics to the same song.
I think all of these are wonderfully creative and interesting ways to group students, and I'm looking forward to trying them out in the fall! How about you?