How to Play Barcos: A Classic and Fun Student Favorite

Barcos is a spin-off of a game that may have been a childhood favorite, Battleship. Barcos is a game of strategy and logic that will make students think about their next moves. Barcos is a great game to incorporate if you want to get your students thinking! They will also love the competition and race to find all ships.

I've used Barcos with my students as a form of sentence building practice but with speaking. The top row list the subject pronouns and the column has images to represent verbs. Images help students make connections to the vocabulary in Spanish.


  • Barcos Game Card
  • Pencils

Extremely low prep! (All you need is the form!)


The game is most often played in pairs. Each player has a game card where they mark or shade in the spaces to represent the five ship types. Players take turns choosing spaces to attack in an attempt to HIT and SINK the ships.

When the players choose a target they must use their Spanish by conjugating for the subject in the row and one of the images/verbs represented.

To keep track of the targets used students will use three words. The word TOCADO is used when a  ship is hit or touched.  The word HUNDIDO is used when the ship is sunken. The word AGUA is used when an opponent has not hit a ship and missed the target. It takes a few times for students to get used to saying the words at the right times but once they get it, they begin to YELL them with enthusiasm and excited. Well, at least AGUA and HUNDIDO! Haha!

Students should mark their cards and hide them from their opponent's view. My students get quite creative to keep their cards hidden from opponents. I mean I'm talking mountains of binders, standing binders, and backpacks creative.

There is a place at the bottom of the game card for students to record targets hit/missed and sunken ships. Some of my students write in the words tocado, hundido, and agua. Some students use letters A, T, and H.  Some even use check marks and X's to keep their cards straight. 
If students haven't played Battleship before, expect to spend some time explaining the game and rules to students. More than likely some students have played the game with run smoothly. The very first time I used Barcos with my students, the first game took around 20 minutes for each pair to finish.

If you're looking for a creative way to get students thinking and talking, give Barcos a try. There are game templates for many vocabulary themes and verbs types. Barcos will be great for review, reinforcing, and just flat out fun in Spanish or World Language Classroom.

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