12, 13, Sorry 2.0

12, 13, Sorry! was the first iOS software that i made. The idea came from a game that I often play with my students called Time Bomb. The rules are pretty simple. Players count once, twice or three times and then pass their turn. When a specified number (I usually use 13 or 20) is said, that person is out. Play resumes until only one person is left standing. It is a great game for getting students to use numbers and think about what comes next along with basic game strategy.

This software lets you set a single number to end the game on or have it happen in a random range. This random range kicks away some of the strategy of the game, but it adds some tension that the students really dig. Since they never know when the iPhone will yell out "Sorry!" some students proceed with caution and say only one number, while some decide to be brave and shout out four or five digits. (In the random range version I let them say as many as they would like.) Without really thinking about it, even some of the less enthused students start saying the numbers in English. I am always impressed when the least interested in English student starts proudly yelling out numbers in English.

I updated 12, 13, Sorry! to have it be a little more ""modern"" (read: less ugly) in design and added a Party Mode. This mode is for two to six players and adds a different amount of strategy to the game. Like before, players say a number and then can continue to say numbers or pass. For each number they say they gain a point. If they pass to end their turn, they keep those points. If they get "Sorry!" their turn ends and they do not keep the points for that turn. First to twenty points wins. (The target score can be set anywhere from twenty to 100.)

I played this with a small group of students during a break once and they were having a huge blast with it. Sure, the game is mostly random and strategy plays a low part, but the key here is that the student's English skill does not determine if they win or lose. Over the past six years of teaching I have found this to be a very important part of doing activities in a foreign language. Losing because of bad luck or a poor roll of the dice or random number generator still feels bad, but it is not because you suck. You being awesome or awful at English has nothing to do with your victory. You just use English to play the game. That is all.

12, 13, Sorry! is on iTunes for a dollar. If you teach young kids and want to try to incorporate some technology in ways that they really enjoy, I would be super happy if you tried it out. Let me know if you did and how they responded!