Designing a Lotería
Deck with your class
Celeste LeTard Williams
NEH Summer Institute for Teachers
Oaxaca, Mexico
What is this game called
• It is a Mexican game of chance
similar to Bingo
• Lotería cards are marked with
an image, a number and a
word, but the number is rarely
• Lotería decks traditionally have
54 cards
• In Mexico, beans are used as
markers for cards
A Loteria Game
• There are 8 to 10
tablas (bingo
cards) in a set
• There is a deck of
54 calling cards
• There is often a set
of plastic markers…
or you can use
• There is a set of
rhymes or hints for
calling out the
How To Play The Game
Great book for introducing the topic – click on the book for link
Just ask your students!
• Each player gets a tabla (game
card) or two
• Everybody needs markers (there are
some that come with the game – or
use beans)
• One person is appointed as the
caller (he or she does not play a
• Sometimes bets are placed in the
center of the table – winner takes all!
Calling the cards
• The easiest way to play is for the
caller to just call out the card
names as he goes through the
deck. Most people play this
• The other way to call is to make
up riddles or rhyming clues to
hint at the card being drawn.
This is the way we want to play.
traditional loteria clues
(spanish speakers: help, please…)
• El gallo (The Rooster)
“El que le cantó a San Pedro
no le volverá a cantar”
• El diablito (The Little Devil)
“Pórtate bien cuatito, si no te
lleva el coloradito”
• La dama (The Lady)
“Puliendo el paso, por toda
la calle real”
• La pera (The Pear)
“El que espera, desespera
• El sol (The Sun)
“La cobija de los pobres”
• El mundo (The World)
“Este mundo es una bola, y
nosotros un bolón”
• El nopal (The Cactus)
“Al nopal lo van a ver,
nomás cuando tiene
• El alacrán (The Scorpion)
“El que con la cola pica, le
dan una paliza”
• La rosa (The Rose)
“Rosita, Rosaura, ven que te
quiero ahora”
traditional loteria clues
(Rough Translation)
• El gallo (The Rooster)
“He who sang to St. Peter
will not sing”
• El mundo (The World)
“The world is a ball, and we
are a mob”
• El diablito (The Little Devil)
“Be good, or you will meet
the little red guy”
• El nopal (The Cactus)
“You see the cactus when it
bears fruit”
• La dama (The Lady)
“A polished step for the royal
• El alacrán (The Scorpion)
“He that stings with his tail
can be crushed with a
• La pera (The Pear)
“He who waits, despairs”
• El sol (The Sun)
“The blanket of the poor”
• La rosa (The Rose)
“Rosita, Rosaura, I see you
The Meaning of the
• Most of the “clues” given by the
caller in a loteria game do not seem
to make sense, however…
• Some of them rely on puns, some on
words that rhyme with the image on
the card
• Others use references that are more
recognizable to native speakers of
Spanish from Mexico
• If one plays enough games, the
clues become instantly associated
with the card images
Bingo! Great review tool!
• The application of verbal clues
is what makes Loteria a great
substitute for bingo…
• With enough practice, the
students will associate words or
pictures with verbal cues
• Unlike traditional Bingo, students
are also given the creative
opportunity to write a riddle or
pun or clue
Here’s how to win
• There is no free
space ;-)
• Fill four spaces
across or down, but
not on the diagonal
• A four-square cluster
is okay, as is filling the
four corners
• For a change, you
can play “black out”
• When you win, yell
out “Loteria!”
applications in the
• To review the important
resources and symbols of a
country, state, city, or culture
• To review the characters,
setting, themes, and symbolism
in a novel
• To illustrate a special theme,
such as drug awareness or
school spirit
Literature Application
• Great science
fiction read
• Lexile is 6th grade,
but concepts are
very complex
• Covers everything
from drug wars to
socialism to
cloning to El
Dorado to….
• Perfect for
creating a loteria
House of the Scorpion
• I asked my 8th grade students to
choose an image from the book and
draw a picture of it
• The image could be a scene, an
idea, a reference, a character, a
place – many choices
• The following cards were submitted
by my students, and I played around
with the images in Adobe Photoshop
• Each student received a set of
finished cards for review
House of the Scorpion
An Example of a Cultural
Themed Loteria
A mola is a sewn
image produced
by the Kuna
Indians, who live
in the San Blas
islands of Panama
To know more, see:
Panama Mola Loteria
• Using the traditional card titles for
most of the deck, I found images
from molas to represent the rooster,
the lady, etc.
• I also included images native to the
San Blas Islands culture, where the
molas are made
• Some examples include: a medicine
man, a harpy eagle, a flag, a
breadfruit, etc.
• This method makes the deck a
unique representation of this culture
Loteria de Mola
Artist’s Loteria Decks
• At the end of this presentation is
a reference list of designer
loteria decks
• You may refer students to these
sites or print a few sets out and
put them up in your class
• These may serve as inspiration to
your students as they design
their own cards
How to Begin
(These cards are from a deck I am designing with vintage images)
First, Teach your unit
• I am lucky enough to teach a block
of Language Arts, Reading, and
Social Studies
• I can parallel Social Studies units with
relevant fiction and non-fiction
reading selections
• The final activity involves knowledge
of the material studied, as well as
ability to express an opinion in writing
• Students are required to use
information learned to develop their
loteria cards
Using your Bulletin Board
as a “Mind Map”
• When my class is reading a
book, I post relevant vocabulary
on my bulletin board
• I also provide illustrations and
articles for better understanding
of unknown concepts
• When it comes time to create
the loteria, I post many artistcreated loteria decks from my
collection to provide inspiration
The Loteria is about
Mexican Culture
• I may have my students play a few
games of loteria, especially if I have
other students in my ESL class that
are not familiar with the game
• Most of the objects in the deck
represent (or used to represent)
things and ideas encountered in
everyday life
• Since the roots of the Loteria are
Spanish in, those objects are tailored
to that culture, but the pictures are
recognizable, regardless of
Break it Down!
• I make copies of the deck and have
them cut them out and place the
cards in categories.
• The next thing we do is to break up
into groups and look at the individual
images of the loteria
• Ask the students to put the objects
into categories or common groups
• Provide groups with a glue stick and
paper or graphic organizer to make
it easier to make connections
loteria image categories
La dama El nopal
El diablo
La rosa
El catrin
El pino
El arbol
borracho La palma
La sirena
La pera
El musico La sandia
El venado
El alacran
El gallo
La arana
El pajaro
La garza
El cazo
El sol
El mundo
escalera La luna
El violon La estrella
El barril
Loteria Images translated
The Lady
The Deer
The Devil
A Rose
A Gentle- The Pine
The Drunk The Tree
A Violin
The Fish
Mermaid The Palm
A Spider
The Brave
A Water- The Crane A Barrel
(or Heron) The Flag
A Soldier
The Sun
A Star
It’s not all fun and games
• After the big build up, it is time to
explain the assignment
• Choose a theme or a topic and
create a loteria game with images
and clues (rhymes)
• This will serve as either a final project
and/or a review device for a final
• You decide how to administer the
assignment – it does NOT have to be
in Spanish…
• Warning: Planning is needed to
prevent overlap of images and ideas
Level One
• This level is pretty easy and
suitable for all ages
• The idea is to allow the student
to create any image he or she
likes, as long as it is relevant
• There should be a writing
component, if possible: Perhaps
a paragraph explaining why
they chose that object
Highland Park Elementary
Students in Austin,Texas that created loteria cards
Or, you can take it up a
• In this case, the students cannot
create just any image they want
• They must analyze the subject
matter and create a card that is
relevant to the theme or culture
• If it is a story, then it can be a
character, concept, vocabulary
word, or something else relevant
to the plot or setting
Gone With the Wind
What cards could you make with the images below?
(The Spanish is for fun!)
La Bandera?
La Sirena?
El Catrin?
La Dama?
La Hacienda?
Los Soldados?
El Valiente?
it’s all about analogies
Traditional Images
• Mexican Flag
• A Violin
• The Macho Man
• The Deer
• A Star
• The Rooster
• The Lady
• A Bean Pot
• Apache Brave
Australian Theme
• Aussie Flag
• A Didgeridoo
• Steve Irwin
• A kangaroo
• Southern Cross
• A kookaburra
• The “Sheila”
• The “Barbie”
• The Aborigine
Take it even Farther!
• The student explains in a paragraph
the relevance of the image to the
topic or story theme
• The student is responsible for writing
a clue or riddle for the card(See links
for writing riddles
• Puns may also be used – as they are
in many real loteria clues!
• Have your students share their loteria
with other classes or display the
cards on a bulletin board or in the
Loteria Card Practice
Sample Card Prompt
loteria card with riddle
Online Loteria Examples
• - many great
examples *warning: mature images on one loteria…
• - great loteria with
explanations of chosen images
editions.html - Los Angeles Loteria series
• - Loteria de la
muerte – featured at Plaza Santo Domingo
• - Loteria workshop software
2157605073040355/ - loteria de mola (Cuna art)
2157594167634428/ - quilt loteria
• - blog, links to
loteria designs on cafepress, etsy, etc.
How to write a Riddle
/WriteYourOwnRiddle.pdf - prewriting
/ - Flash interactive
cation/k-12/articles/33182.aspx Writing couplets
Artes de Mexico series of
adivinanzas (riddle) books
• Adivinanzas mexicanas: See
Tosaasaaniltsiin, See Tosaasaaniltsiin
• Adivinanzas mayas y yucatecas:
Naat le baala paalen: Adivina esta
cosa ninio
• Ka’yu ta kutu’a kun Ñuu Savi.
Adivinanzas en mixteco. La lengua
de la lluvia
• Zazan tleino: Adivinanzas nahuas de
ayer, hoy y siempre
These books are translated into 5 or 6 languages – great ideas!
Other Useful Websites
- online riddles in Spanish
recursos01.htm - online riddles in
cturebingo.php - create your
own bingo cards with pictures
and clues!

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