What it is: An easily adaptable game seen all over for all age groups. Here, it’s a game played on paper cards. The free printable cards I provide are animal themed.
Best for: Children in small to large groups (great for classrooms).
What you need: A printed game board for each child playing and a way to mark off squares that have been called. You can mark squares with something physical like cereal or candy. This is fun (especially if it’s M&Ms instead of Cheerios), but make sure children are old enough not to bump their boards and get things out of order (or eat their square markers!).
If you don’t want to use something physical that can get bumped or moved, use markers or stickers. The downside of this method is it will destroy your game boards – unless you laminate them first! Then you can use stickers that are easily removable, or dry erase markers, so you can use the same boards and play again and again.
How to play: In Bingo, each child gets his or her own Bingo game board. The boards have a 5 by 5 grids of squares, with each square being a unique item or number. Here, they are unique animals. Typically the center square is a free space, so each board has 24 different animals. There are 54 different animal pictures in this version of the game, so each game board is unique, and each game board has a 50/50ish chance of having any given animal.
The game moderator then starts calling out the 54 animals in the game in random order. Children must listen closely, because when the game moderator calls out an animal a child has on his or her game board, the child gets to mark it off.
The goal of the game is to get five marked-off squares in a row, either horizontal, vertical, or diagonal.
As soon as a child does this, they call out, “Bingo!” The first player to call out “Bingo!” wins. If more than one player calls out Bingo at the same time, they tie for first place. You can continue playing for second, third, etc., place.
Variations: In addition to winning a Bingo round by marking off five squares in a row, you can make the game more exciting by adding in rounds requiring players to win by marking off other formations on their board, like the ones pictured. (Players will have more than these squares marked; these are just the minimum to win.) Some are shorter than a normal round, and some are longer.
- Four corners – Mark the four corners
- Blackout – Mark every single square
- Outer border – Mark all the squares in the outer border
- Middle square – Mark the eight squares that surround the free space
- Letters – Mark off squares to form a letter, like T, L, X, or M
- Specific Bingo – Require players to get a specific five-in-a-row to win (like the first column, or the second row)
- Double Bingo – Players need two five-in-a-row’s to win
- Plus sign – Mark the middle row and the middle column
- The last to Bingo – When players get a Bingo, they are eliminated. The player who goes the longest without getting a Bingo wins.
Another way to make your Bingo game more exciting is to offer prizes to the winners, or have players swap their cards with each other randomly during a round.
Printables: Now that you know how to play, here’s everything you need to print and…well, play!
This PDF has the actual game boards (54 unique cards, which means you can play with up to 54 people at once).
This PDF is for the moderator or person running the game. It has strips of words with the all the animals in the game that you can print out, cut up, and read out loud. It also has 60 different sets of the animals in the game in random order, so, instead of drawing names and reading them, you can just read down the list (and play 60 unique games).
There’s also a PDF with each animal on a separate page, in case you want to show your class or players a visual of what each animal looks like, either digitally on a screen/projector or printed out. (You can also download this with 4 animals to a page.)
And, as a bonus, I have all of these translated into Spanish! (If I got anything wrong in the translation, please let me know and I’ll fix it.)
This would be an excellent activity for language learners, either English language learners of any age from any language, or English speakers learning Spanish. Introduce the vocabulary with the visual cards and use the Bingo game as a review.
Any fun Bingo experiences or variations to share? I’d love to hear! And happy playing!