Donkey / Spoons

An easy card game to play in free time.

I play this after the students have tests, so they still have to listen to English when I explain the game, but don't have to use too much brain-power whilst actually playing.

Donkey (otherwise known as Spoons) is a pretty simple game. The goal is to not be the person in the group without an eraser.

What you'll need

  • 3~13 players per group
  • a deck of cards per group
  • one less eraser than there are players (i.e. 5 students, 4 erasers)

How to play

  1. Start the game by arranging all the erasers in the middle of the table.

  2. Janken. The winner is the dealer

  3. Dealer deals each player 4 cards, and places the deck in front of them.

  4. The dealer takes a card off the top of the deck (to have five cards in their hand). They then remove one card from their
    hand and pass it face down to the player on their left.

  5. This continues around the circle of players with each player taking a card from the person on their right, deciding whether to keep it, then passing one card on to the next player. Each player discards to the person on their left.

  6. The last player places their discarded card into a discard pile and the next round begins when the dealer picks up a new card. If at any time the draw cards run out, pause to reshuffle the discard pile and keep going.

  7. Play continues quickly until someone gets four of a kind. At that time, the player takes an eraser from the centre.

  8. Once the player with four of a kind takes an eraser, anyone can take the remaining ones.

  9. The player left without an eraser is declared the Donkey.

I've made a PowerPoint to explain this too. If you real feel like you must incorporate English, the winners can have the Donkey answer a question, or (how I usually play) have them only speak English whilst playing, and reacting to their situations (either good or bad) in English (my JTE taught them to say "Oh, shit!", not sure why, but they knew this was the situation to use it when they were the Donkey.

Have fun!

Medium files (requires an account to download) -
  • Donkey!.pptx (1.83 MB)
  • 26
    Submitted by sophieinniigata November 18, 2022 Estimated time: 5~10 minutes to explain and do a demonstration, then however long you want to keep playing afterwards.
    1. ALTPeter November 18, 2022

      We just did this with my first years, but instead of playing cards we made cards for I, My, Me, Mine etc.....

    2. kusobaba November 21, 2022

      Love the PowerPoint explanation. A picture is worth a thousand words. Thanks.

    3. Rilakkuman November 21, 2022

      Thank you for such a clear and concise PPT.

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