Tin Can Alley/Shootout

If you’re not using Nerf guns to recycle vocabulary yet, what’s going on?

What You Need

1x Deck of DimmiDeck Cards – choose ten with vocabulary that you want to recycle

2x Nerf Gun or similar toy pistol that doesn’t hurt when someone inevitably misbehaves with it (adults included…). I like the Nerf N-Strike Elite as it holds enough foam darts without wasting too much time and is accurate and small enough for classroom use.

10x Plastic Cups


Choose a vocabulary topic to recycle and select 10 cards containing the words. Stick each card to a cup and line them up in a safe place to be fired at.

Lesson Plan

  1. Divide the class into two teams. Each team member will take it in turns to play.
  2. Line up the 10x vocabulary card-cups at the back of the room and put a line of tape down around 10 feet away.
  3. Call up the first shooter from each team to stand at the line and aim.
  4. Have a list of the chosen vocabulary prepared. The teacher, or preferably another student, must read out three of the words from the list in a random order.
  5. When the first word has been read, the two shooters must quickly identify the correct card and shoot it down.
  6. The team who first hits the correct word gets 1 point. If the incorrect cup is hit, that team loses 1 point. If nothing is hit, no points are awarded.
  7. If they miss, they can try again. However once they run out of ammo (six in the case of these nerf guns) they will not be able to continue.
  8. Once the cup has been hit, the second word is quickly read out. Continue until all ammo has been used or all three words have been read.
  9. Reset the cups and change shooters. Continue until everyone has had the chance to shoot, and remember to randomise the word order.
  10. The winning team is that with the most points!


It’s crucial to adapt this game to make it work for your class. It might be completely inappropriate in your teaching context, or it may cause unnecessary disruption or distraction. The trick is to keep it as a brief, exciting treat for your students.

Feel free to change the points system or the rules to suit your level.

Don’t want to use Nerf guns? How about traditional slingshots, throwing ping pong balls, running and touching the correct card, throwing paper aeroplanes, hitting a piñata, popping a balloon, kicking a football or countless other ways of achieving the same goal? As long as the students are matching a spoken word to an image, you can get really creative with this!

Get your DimmiDeck today from just €16 – 54 characters, dozens of activities and limitless imagination. Add something new to your language lessons!