It is very hard for evil to take hold of the unconsenting soul.

Ursla Le Guin (1929-2018)

A Wizard of Earthsea, 1968

The Happy Game

Choice Card: The Happy Game
Listening and Speaking practise
elementary aged children and up
5 minutes
Class Size:
small (large possible)
Energy Level:
Co-operative Board game
Cards and board (downloadable), dice

This is an example of a spiral game. Players work together to guess a target sentence and move a group marker to the centre before time is up (five minutes).

You'll first need to print out the cards and the board. Two versions of the board are available. The first makes a B4 sized board. The second requires cutting and sticking together and makes a B3 sized board. You will also need to supply your own six-sided dice and team mover. When playing the game don't use all the cards at once but add more each time a group is successful:

  1. Use the He, She & It happy cards
  2. Now add the They are happy cards.
  3. Remove the They cards, add he, she and it not happy cards
  4. Use all the cards.


Place the mover at the start on the large neutral smiley face. The game referee shuffles the cards and selects the top card. In turn the players try to guess what it is. If the guess is incorrect the referee indicates this with a "Nope!" "eh-err" or negative sounding noise, the sillier the better. When a player guesses correctly the referee reveals the card and the player gets to roll the dice and move the team marker around the track. If the marker lands on a special space follow the directions of the arrow moving closer or further from the goal as indicated. Set a time limit of five minutes for the players to get to the centre. This is tough with all the cards unless the players are very lucky or very fast.


Rather than make sentences the guesses can ask questions, "Is he happy?", "Is she unhappy?" etc. The referee replies with a sentence, "No he isn't, "No she isn't". When a player asks a question that matches the picture the referee says "Yes", shows the card and the player rolls the dice.

Rather than having one referee for the whole game the players can take turns. If the group has good rapport then the player that guesses becomes the referee. Otherwise just go round the table in turn.


When using the negative cards stick with one format for the whole game ie. "He is not happy.", "He is unhappy." or "He is sad.". The game referee can help the players by varying the way "no!" is said for incorrect guesses. When playing the game for the first time the teacher should take the roll of the referee to establish the tone for the game. No should be said in a friendly manner and first-time players especially need to be encouraged to guess quickly. If necessary the referee can list all the available choices which can help less able students produce a whole sentence.