If you’ve had your students in class all year your job should be so easy! Flawless transitions, no personality conflicts, 100% cooperation… Plus, by now they have learned a lot of language and can stay in the target language so much longer than they could at the beginning of the year.

Ok, let’s be real… it’s not always easy, is it? Do they all choose to speak in the TARGET LANGUAGE bell to bell?!? Students can be harder to motivate when summer is just around the corner.

It takes new strategies for me to keep them in Spanish at this time of the year. They are very comfortable with each other and love to slip into English. Mixing their groups helps a lot but it can be time consuming to do this in the middle of class… until now.

I saw a similar idea from an elementary classroom somewhere on Pinterest – and it worked great for me in class so I figured i’d share! Maybe it will help a few of you.

I collected paint samples from my favorite home improvement store. I have around 30 kids in each class so I used 6 different colors – 5 of each color. I numbered each color 1-5 and assigned 6 different shapes on the cards, too. All I needed was 10 mins and a sharpie and my cards were ready!


Now when I want to mix students up on the fly (without making enemies), I simply offer a card to each student as they come into class. They try to be strategic and switch cards and organize their buddies but it’s tricky!

When we’re ready to break into groups for speaking activities or projects I can call 1 of the 3 options… SHAPES, NUMBERS, or COLORS. It’s easy to do in the target language and it’s a good way to shuffle ’em up. (In Spanish I’ll say… where are those cards… show me the cards… Who has red? Where are the ‘number 2’s?’ Who has a heart? and it’s gets them used the the vocab and all excited about where they will be going!) Then I’ll choose… NUMBERS! and they have to find their group of kids with the same number.

If I can see that they need a new audience after a few minutes than I can call another option! If they are grouped by colors and I need a volunteer… I can choose either “circles” or “number 3” and either one will give me at least 1 person in each group.

I found that my students sometimes feel like the victim when called on in class, but the randomness of the cards made it fun and kept them paying much closer attention. Like anything you try – it probably would lose it’s effectiveness if I used it everyday but it’s a great little trick when you need to mix things up!

Download a set here. Print each page on a different color of paper.

How do you assign groups? Do you have a great strategy?

We’d all love to hear something that works well for you!