Saturday, April 14, 2018

Button Button Brain Break from Sarah Breckley

When I was a little girl, I used to play "Button, Button, Who's Got the Button" with my sisters and my grandparents when we would spend a week at their farm in the summer. (fyi - the grammar in the title  of this old game may make you twitch; similar to PA's license plate motto "You've got a friend in Pennsylvania" - oh my.) It's been decades since I played or even thought about that game. But today, I saw a video by Sarah Breckley, a Spanish teacher from Wisconsin, (more about Sarah later), that brought those memories back in a snap.

Sarah's video title is "Button Button, Who's Got the Button - Direct Object Pronoun Grammar Game". In the video the students play the game with objects, which she varies in order to require students to use all of the direct object pronouns. Some suggestions for objects - coins, balls, pen, Beanie Baby stuffed animal.

The sweet deal about this game is that even though the title claims it is a grammar game, the focus is NOT on grammar. Rather, the focus is on guessing which of the students has the object that is being passed behind their backs. During play, the student that is seated in the middle tries to guess which student has the object by asking his classmates in the TL, "Do you have IT?" and the student that was asked answers "Yes, I have IT" or "No, I don't have IT" (or THEM if more than one object is passed).  

Converting BUTTON, BUTTON to a Brain Break
In Sarah's video, the students play this as a game. It can easily be shortened to be used as a brain break by playing without teams. Tell the students that you will play for X# of minutes, whatever length of time you want for your brain break, and end the activity at the end of the time.

Obviously, the first time you play, it will take longer because you will have to explain it to the students. After the first time, it can serve as an energizing brain break that takes place in the TL.

Button, Button, Who's Got the Button
Watch the video below or directly on YouTube HERE and then check the document below with Sarah's instructions on how to play. 

A pdf of the directions can be found HERE

Sarah Breckley
In 2017 Sarah was recognized as Wisconsin's Teacher of the Year. 
If you are a Spanish teacher that subscribes to Sr. Wooly's site, you may have recognized Sarah from his video "Feo" in which she absolutely nailed her role as Feona.

Sarah has a Vlog HERE, or in the future you can find it on the right panel of my blog on the list of CI/TPRS blogs. On her vlog you can find videos of Sarah teaching using stories through the use of comprehensible input with her students. When watching the videos, it is evident why she was award the Wisconsin Teacher of the Year title and obvious that her students are enjoying acquiring the Spanish language in her classroom. I encourage you to spend time watching her videos and then to "steal" more ideas from Sarah.  :-)


  1. Hi Cynthia! Thanks for sharing this. I remember when I was teaching English while in Spain and the textbook used, "How many sisters/brothers have you got?" It sounded incorrect to me, but I guess that is correct in "British" English. Perhaps that applies to these game titles also!

    1. That's interesting. I wonder if a non-native English speaker wrote the textbook, or maybe it was someone whose family used it in that way. Either way, I tell my students they should be very happy that English is their first language because it is a mess. I'm forever years old and I'm still learning English as my first language. LOL

  2. Hi! I have to chime in! As a child of British parents, I have to say that nothing seemed off about the name of this game! Thanks so much for sharing it. Can't wait to use this with my students.

    1. Same!!! As a child, I never gave the name a second thought. In fact, the first time I actually thought about the name was when I wrote this post. I was going to "fix" the name and write "Button, Button, Who has the Button", but then I thought, "NO!" that's not what we used to call it - the name has to stay as "Button, Button, Who's Got the Button".
      @ProfeMurray on Twitter mentioned that the game works standing up too. I'm going to try that variation.