Presenting Scratch My Back In Class:
Generally, if you're introducing the game to
students, unless they're advanced you should do some background
work to get players familiar with the keywords and concepts
used in the game cards.
The following tips apply to teaching
the regular Scratch My Back
rules, which are ultimately both more challenging and
rewarding than the simpler game versions.
- We recommend setting aside at least 40 minutes
of lesson time to play a game.
- Make sure you first run through the
rules yourself. Ideally, you will have
played a game against other teachers at your school
Extra optional Preparation:
First, read through the 'Objective' section with your
students and ask a few questions to test their
understanding. E.g. What qualities do the heart cards have
that make them positive? Check that they understand
that Request cards are positive as well.
Briefly draw attention to the Cards summary on the
bottom half of the page. Spend a few minutes looking at the
different cards, but don't get bogged down in too much
Mention the attacking and defending icons. See if anyone can
guess what they mean. Select a few cards with easy
examples that give clues.
If students don't figure it out naturally, a good
way to explain the difference between 'attacking and
defending' in the context of the game is by
relating it to a football match, or a battle.
Attacking cards are played by the person 'with the
ball'. Defending cards are played in response to another
The Setting Up section of the instructions can easily be
acted out by students as a TPR exercise.
+ What is TPR?
Get one student to read through the instructions, and the
others to act them out and self check each other.
A dealer will be nominated. If possible, select the
player to your right to deal (that way you will start the first
After the dealer has finished shuffling, instruct
them to deal the cards ‘face up’, so that
players can examine their cards and assess play options
The player to the left of the dealer starts. If they're not
confident, the teacher should start. (place the attacking icon
marker next to the starting player).
The starting player must first select a Request card
from their hand, or discard and pick up until they acquire
The player must now select an opponent to make a request of.
(place the defending icon marker next to this player).
Continuing the Round:
Following the request, the requested player will now have to
Reinforce that as they are defending, they must choose
a card with a defending icon.
Draw the defending player's attention to the 'Defending
moves' section of the instructions (bottom right corner), and
discuss the different play options they have available,
guiding them to select a response.
Continue to provide assistance to all players in this
way - informing them of their play options, moving the
attacking and defending markers, and
discussing possible moves until the round reaches its
natural end (when a player either folds, or is unable to
When playing open handed, discuss and give tips on
students best strategic options.
The basic strategy in the game is to try to add as many
cards to the table before winning a round with a matching
Request card and an Agree card combo.
Another strategy is managing the cards in your hand so that
you don't fold, and put pressure on your opponents.
The game flows a lot more smoothly if the teacher takes
the responsibility of allocating points at the end of the
Be sure that you explain why the points are awarded. It's
pretty intuitive and players pick this aspect up within a few
Also, be sure to mention that if a player has two matching
Request cards, they can either discard these (scoring two
points), or play one, followed by its pair and an Agree card
Take notes - especially of new vocabulary students come
across. Allow five minutes at the end for a discussion.