Verbivores is a tabletop serious game in which teams of three or four players defend their school bus from zombies by conjugating verbs. I developed the game to help my elementary level students practise the past simple forms of verbs in a motivating context.

These are the rules of Verbivores (v3):

1) How to be a hero

• Zombies are attacking your school bus! Use your brain, or the zombies will eat it!
• Form a team of 3 or more heroes (=DE Helden). Only you can protect your friends on the bus.
• On the table, put the 3 dice, the bus and the cards with the zombie image on top.
• Every hero puts one pen around the bus to make walls. The walls protect your bus.
• For each hero there’s 1 zombie around the walls.

2) How to survive

• Zombies only eat lazy brains. Every time you use a verb, your brain becomes a bit stronger. Defend your bus: conjugate all the verbs!
• Use teamwork! Your team wins when all the zombies are dead and your bus is safe again.
• Danger! Your team loses when a zombie attacks a hero without a wall. Any zombie can attack any hero. Defend the other heroes!

3) How to fight

Zombies like fresh brains, so they attack the youngest hero first.
1. Roll the die with the numbers.
⚀: Oh no! The zombies break a wall. Look at 4b).
⚁-⚅: Take a card to fight the zombies with a verb.
2. Roll the big pronoun die to choose a person.
3. Roll the + / – / ? die: choose positive, negative or interrogative. Now conjugate the verb.
4. Now check your answer on the back of the card.
a) Correct: Build a wall for yourself or another hero. A hero can have many walls. OR: Kill a zombie. It doesn’t matter which zombie you kill.
b) Wrong: The zombies break a wall. Take away one of your pens.
5. If you took a card, put it back in the game box. The zombies continue clockwise ⟳ and attack the next player.

4) How to be awesome

There are so many zombies! When your brains are strong enough, you can start the next game with more zombies to fight. Will you survive?

Instructions for teachers:

1. A team consists of 3 (ideal) or 4 (ok) players.
2. Prepare the cards from “Methodencurriculum TP3 Travailler en groupes – Cartes Verbivores” like this:
a. Use thick paper
b. Two-sided / duplex: yes
c. Short-edge binding
d. Scale: 100% (by default most printers will try and reduce this to something like 97%)
e. Print one copy for every team.
f. Use a stack paper trimmer to cut the cards.
3. Get one standard six-sided die for every team.
4. Get one school bus token per team. If none are available, print one copy of a school bus image per team.
5. Get 6 zombie tokens per team. You can buy a “bag-o-zombies” by Twilight creations, download 3D-printable figurine (e.g. or print copies of a zombie image.
6. Get one pronoun die per team. You can fold a die from paper and label it or download and 3D-print this die:
7. Get one +/–/? die per team. You can fold a die from paper and label it or put stickers on a regular d6.
You can introduce the topic of zombies in a lesson some time before introducing Verbivores to your class. Make it clear to the students that they have the epic task of defending other students from the zombie apocalypse.
The cooperative element consists in the learners’ ability to use strategy: if one member of their team is attacked and unprotected, the whole team fails. After each successful move, the learners must decide whether they want to do what’s best for them or what’s best for the team.
After each round that a team completes without dying, they can increase the tally of eliminated zombies on the blackboard.
Print a copy of the “restricted area” sign, put it in a plastic sheet and use a whiteboard pen to keep track of the overall tally of the class each time they finish a 15-minute battle session.


Verbivores cards v2 imposed (PDF)

Verbivores rules v3 (docx)

Creative Commons License
Verbivores by Gilles Glod is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

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  1. Elena Kudinova

    That is an awesome way to gamify the study of the past simple tense.Thank you very much for sharing, I’m definitely going to use it with my students and recommend in to my colleges here in Russia and worldwide.

    Feb 10, 2021 @ 18:36