Level: minimum intermediate speakers, no maximum.


This activity exercises modal verb skills for the verb, wish, using had, would, could, were. It also exercises transforming the modal verb to simple present. Perhaps most importantly, this activity exercises the ability to describe specific, spontaneously invented consequences.


One-minute timer per group.


I first came across this game on an online forum. I adapted it to the live classroom.


I wish I had/were/could + noun phrase or remaining predicate phrase

Poof! You have/are/can + noun phrase or remaining predicate phrase

However, + simple present clause.

Example: Boy: I wish I were a girl. Opponent: Zap! You are a girl. However, you still have your boy face.


  1. Form groups of three or four people. Alternatively this game can be played casually between partners without a timer.
  2. Select the first wisher according to some fair and random manner. The first wisher will also be the score keeper. On a piece of scrap paper, make a column for each player. Record points as hash marks.
  3. Optionally, take a minute to silently brainstorm some wishes to make.
  4. Use a convenient timing device, such as a timer from a commercial game. The timer is necessary to keep the game moving quickly. Set the timer for one minute.
  5. Given a minute, the first wisher states a wish, such as, I wish I had a red Corvette.
  6. Making a wish within one minute earns the wisher one point.
  7. As soon as the wisher states a wish, the other players compete to be the first to ruin the wish. Assert a turn to ruin the wish by saying some magic words, such as poof, ka-ching, zap, whatever--be creative! Players who pause before their complete response, such as Poof! ..., will be disqualified from ruining this wish. Here is an example of a successful ruined wish: Poof! You have a red Corvette. You can't drive it though because it is only two inches long. It is a toy from a gum ball machine. In this case, the player receives a point for successfully ruining a wish, and the next wisher takes a turn.
  8. Repeat the cycle. Officially begin each round by resetting the timer for the next wisher. Players may find that they will spend some time laughing and discussing the way wishes are ruined. Before resetting the timer for the next wisher is a good time to update the scores.
  9. At the end of 30 minutes or some other appropriate length of time, tally up the points to determine the winner.