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Make Spanish Class Competitive and Fun: How to play Taco Tuesday in any level

If you know me at all, you probably know that Taco Tuesday is one of my favorite games to play with my Spanish class students. My creation of this game stemmed from my need for a game that the entire class could play at once – while actually engaging all students!

With large class sizes (that often continue to grow…) I am always trying to create activities that are:

  • flexible in group sizing and length of play
  • low prep
  • effective and engaging for any number of students

Taco Tuesday was one of the first games that helped me reach all of these goals. I have since created many templates, as well as a bundle of various completely editable game board sizes. I have also transformed the game to be digital ready, which you can learn more about here.

If you’re wondering how to play in a traditional class setting, or how to differentiate for your students’ varying ability levels, read on!

Why we love Taco Tuesday


Taco Tuesday is a favorite in all my levels of Spanish classes each year. The students love it because it’s engaging and helps boost their confidence and morale. I love it because it requires almost 0 prep by me and because it can be played for any just about amount of time. Oh no, we finished but there’s 5 minutes left in class? Taco Tuesday is perfect. Or maybe we flew through our lesson and we have 15 minutes to spare? Still perfect!

I love seeing the level of excitement and commitment in my classroom every time we play Taco Tuesday. By the end of each round, there are sometimes tense friendships, budding arch nemesis, holes in the game board, and earned bragging rights (see photo.)

My favorite is when there are year-long battles where students are determined to have the most wins. They want to claim the (absolutely non-existent) Taco Tuesday Crown.

This game helps build a sense of community in my classroom, and is my go-to even from the first day of class. Read about how I use it from DAY 1 right here.

Taco Tuesday is now ready for DIGITAL gameplay, too!

All of my existing Taco Tuesday games (including the templates) have been updated to include digital components as well as the option to print and play.

Every game also has walkthrough videos and support to help you through the digital options!

I hope you find this helpful!

Find a more detailed digital tutorial below. Or keep reading on this page to find differentiation ideas and strategies for both styles of gameplay.

How to Play



*Create a game board using one of the four game sizes included in my Editable Templates, or snag a ready-made game from over 40 options here.
*Print 1 game board for every 2 students in your class
*Instruct each student to use a differently colored pen/pencil/marker from their partner(s)

General Instructions:

This game is best played in groups of 2-3, with each student using a different colored pen/marker. I typically play for anywhere from 15-20 minutes, but quicker rounds are sometimes appropriate. Run time is very flexible and can fit into as quick as 5 minutes.
To play, students share one game board filled with small tacos. In each taco, there is a word or phrase related to their current unit. The teacher calls out a hint in Spanish or the definition in English, and students race to be the first one to find the correct taco. If they find it first, they get to color in the taco with their color. At the end of the game, the student with the most Tacos Wins!


If there is a tie for a certain word, I have my students quickly play rock, paper, scissors to determine the winner. This happens once or twice per game. This game gets very competitive and sometimes the papers at the end are in ROUGH shape. When we get toward the end of the game, I sometimes make my students close their eyes and keep their hands behind their backs as I give the clues. They sometimes impose silly rules upon themselves, and I’ll include some of their favorite ideas below.

Ideas for Differentiation

Because the game is fairly straightforward, it is always a good idea to consider ways of adjusting the difficulty level for your classes based on the varying abilities of your students. I hope you will find some of these ideas useful for your differing classes and/or proficiency levels!

Language Use:

With your upper level classes or when you are more familiar with a topic, play completely in the target language! Students obviously prefer when I give clues in English, but I always try to challenge them and have “Spanish only” games. In the end, this always proves to them that they understand more than they give themselves credit for. After these games, I usually hear “Whoah I understood almost everything she said!” and “I can’t believe I got those ones!”
With all levels of Spanish, you can adjust the difficulty of the language you use and the details of the clues you give. Give yourself some flexibility; staying in the target language alone is a great challenge for your students.
Ways to try Spanish only games with lower proficiency levels would be: giving opposites in the target language as the clue (¿Qué es el opuesto de “alto”?), adding motion to your clues, or giving clues by category and allowing more than one answer at a time (for example, “¡Busquen los tipos de deportes!”). It is especially important in these lower proficiency levels to still challenge them to the Spanish only games. Building confidence now will help them to challenge themselves more as they continue their study of the language!

Double-Up or Triple-Up

To mix things up and make things more challenging, I will sometimes give clues that have more than one possible answer. While this may make it easier to find one correct answer, at the same time it causes a bit of a frenzy because students want to find *all* of the answers. They aren’t satisfied with just 1 because they aren’t willing to split the Tacos with their partner!
For example, today we were preparing for our family member/event quiz tomorrow. For one of the clues, I said, “¡Hay tres eventos felices!” And students had to find la graduación, la boda, y la reunión familiar. Those 15 seconds or so after I read a multi-answer clue are intense.


Another differentiation idea is to adjust the speed at which you give clues. In my lower level classes, I give clues one at a time and provide a good amount of wait time in between each one. We also review each answer before moving onto the next question.
In my more advanced classes, I sometimes feel comfortable giving two completely different clues at once, or giving clues quickly without stopping to review answers unless a student requests that we do so. I keep a game board in front of me on my clipboard and I mark the Tacos as we go, so that I can check a students’ game board at any time and alert them if they have colored an incorrect taco. “Hey, we haven’t said that word yet, let’s review what it means.”

Time Played: Placement + Duration

Based on your class climate/ability, there are a few ways to decide how long you will play for. For a class that gets easily riled up, I usually play for shorter bursts of 5-7 minutes. I will also strategically place the game time either toward the beginning or end of class. If it is a Monday, I’ll often play at the start to wake them up. If it is later in the week, we can play at the end of class to regain their focus and keep them on task until the bell. With shorter games they may ask to play the following day as another quick warmup, and that’s fine! Switching partners makes the game feel brand new.

For more skilled classes or faster moving students in general, I sometimes work through the entire game board. This is the rare “Total Taco.” I usually only do this on half days or days where one class has moved ahead of another class. I also usually only do this if we have gotten through everything for the day/week. My students know it is a reward for working hard! For example, I have one class that meets for one extra day per week (the periods are shorter so the time objectively should be equal, but they always seem to move ahead) and they are often my only class that gets to witness #TotalTaco.

Additional Challenges:

As I have mentioned, my students tend to get pretty competitive with this game, As we near the end of the board, or if I notice we are running out of time, I usually give a warning such as “¡Cinco tacos más!” This usually prompts my students to make up their own rules with their partner to make the end more exciting. Some additional challenges they give themselves are:
  • “Ok, we have to turn the paper over until she finishes reading the clue”
  • “Hands behind your back for this one!”
  • “You have to tap the word with your elbow!”
  • “You have to tap two other answers before you tap the right one!”
  • “Eyes closed until she says it!”
  • “Markers have to stay capped and in the tray until she’s done speaking!”
All of these challenges make us laugh and help us to end class on a great note, no matter who actually wins the game 🙂

Sign up to receive a members-only version of this virtual-ready game, and gain access to other exclusive resources! You will receive additional special videos in your inbox that are just for you, with extra support for digital gameplay like changing your game piece colors and more! 🙂


Interested in a second free game, this time for the present tense of AR verbs? Grab it here!

Ellen R.
Ellen R.
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All of Erin’s products are top notch quality! I’ve bought Taco Tuesday templates before and Llama mía (Taco Tuesday is such a hit!!!) Will buy her products again and again, they made my first year as a high school teacher much smoother and engaging. Love all of the instructions and the digital downloads as well.
Laura O.
Laura O.
Review on TPT
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My students love this game and always get so competitive! It has been a great hit during distance and hybrid learning. I'm glad I finally purchased the template to use even more!
Jacqueline C.
Jacqueline C.
Review on TPT
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Engaging is the top word that comes to mind in terms of this resource. The kids loved it and got really competitive. I like using games like this as a bit of a "brain break" and the kids enjoyed moving around and doing different face offs against other students. A win!

Have fun!

I hope you got some ideas from this post, and if you already love Taco Tuesday like me I hope you can try a few new differentiation strategies with your students. Please feel free to reach out to me via the CONTACT button if your students have come up with any other fun challenges/rules, or if you have any favorite ways of differentiating for your students! Have fun, profe!

And one more thing before you go — if you know a French teacher who would love to play, share Macaron Mardi with them!

Please feel free to share this post with your world language teacher colleagues and friends!
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My name is Erin and I have 10 years of experience teaching high school Spanish. I love building positive student relationships and bringing a bit of fun into my lessons to keep my students engaged!

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