In this post: We look at Lotería, a popular Spanish game of chance, and how you can use it with your kids to support language learning. 

Nowadays, there are so many resources you can use to learn and teach Spanish. It’s helpful to have multiple options so you never get bored and it’s also a great way to experiment until you figure out which options work best for you and your family. 

Among the many options, language games are always a winner. One of our favorites here at Mama Llama Linguist is lotería, also referred to as Spanish bingo. It’s the best of both worlds by combining fun with an educational and cultural experience that’s enjoyable for the entire family.

In fact, an article posted to Oprah Daily in 2020 even mentioned that the joy and nostalgia of playing the game helped many to cope with the lonely and uncertain times during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Sounds interesting? Keep reading to learn all about the history of Lotería, how to play and where you can get your hands on this popular game. 

Lotería Spanish bingo game for kids

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A Brief Introduction to Lotería

The name lotería comes from the Spanish word for lottery. While this popular bilingual game is also known as ‘Mexican bingo’, it’s actually said to have originated in Europe. 

The game goes as far back as the 1500s when it started in Italy and was eventually played among Europeans in Germany and Spain as well. Years later in the 1700s during expeditions by the Spanish aristocracy, the game found its way to Mexico and quickly became a regular and beloved pastime throughout the country. 

Though the style and appearance of the game have changed over the years, it remains quite similar to its earliest versions.

How Do You Play Lotería?

Now that you understand the game’s history, let’s go through a quick overview of how to play. 

Similar to bingo, you’re given a 4×4 card (tabla) but instead of numbers, each block displays a different image and name. One person is appointed as the caller (cantor) to draw cards from the deck and read the name of the card, or they may choose to give players a riddle as a hint to guess the card. 

Once a player has the corresponding card on their tabla, they use a token to mark the spot. Traditionally, raw beans have been used as tokens but you can use whatever works. The first player to fill 4 pictures in a row and shout ‘Lotería!’ wins the game. 

You can also switch it up or make the game more exciting by agreeing before each round which pattern will allow a player to win the round. Other variations include covering all 4 corners, forming a squared pattern, or filling the entire board.

How does Lotería Support Language Learning?

When it comes to language learning, always remember one of the most important golden rules – kids learn best when they’re having fun and are engaged. That’s one reason why it’s so much easier for them to remember an upbeat and catchy song than simply memorize chunks of information. 

Dr. Krashen researched this extensively using the Affective Filter Hypothesis which explores the effect that psychological factors can have on language acquisition.

Stressful learning or anxious students actually acquire ZERO language while learners with high motivation, self-confidence and a good self-image are better able to acquire a second language. For more on this, check out our founder’s guest post on Fabulingua. 

Therefore, when it comes to games, and in this case Lotería, it’s the perfect combination of fun and education to support language learning. The dynamic of the game also combines multiple skills including language use, vocabulary development, and cultural learning which all help with learning Spanish.

Along with language games, other activities are useful to supplement learning. Consider these Spanish subscription boxes which often include games as well as additional items such as flashcards, books and crafts. 

Best Spanish Bingo Games for Kids

By now I’m sure that you’re just about ready to hit that ‘add to cart’ button. ¿Verdad? Whether you choose to purchase the game, play it online or make it yourself, here are a few options to get started: 

Our Top Pick: If you’re looking to buy the game, we personally love and recommend the Lil’ Libros version of lotería. It can be played with 2 people or up to 6 players and it’s great for ages 3 and older. Grab yours here.


Disney-themed: If you and your kids loved the 2017 Disney Pixar film ‘Coco’ then this version of lotería is sure to be a hit. The design of the cards was inspired by characters and references from the film along with aspects of Mexican culture. Check it out.

Up for a DIY project?: This website offers free printables that you can use to make your own version of lotería or even another Spanish vocabulary game. The categories include transport, shapes, numbers and much more. They’re also available as bilingual or fully Spanish sheets. 

Play online: If you want to see how the game works before purchasing or simply prefer an online version then try this one by ABCya. It’s just as fun and even easier to play on the go. 

And last but not least…

Download our FREE Lotería Game for Kids

Here at Mama Llama Linguist, we’re certainly getting in on the action. We’ve developed our own animal-themed version of lotería. You can download and print our sheets for a game that can be enjoyed by up to 6 players.

loteria game spanish bingo

Our version comes with smaller 3×3 cards as well as native speaker audio so you can easily hear the pronunciation of each animal. This makes it a more kid-friendly version that’s ideal for beginners or those who prefer a more guided approach. Download it in the Freebie Library.

Now would be a great time to plan a bilingual games night. Along with lotería, find other Spanish board games in this post, choose a date, grab the snacks and have some fun.

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