Word Games!

This page is a wonderful resource for teachers who want a crash course on how to teach vocabulary effectively along with dozens of really fun vocabulary games that can be used for reinforcement and review.

The first pages of the document are devoted to summarizing the main points of Beck and McKeown’s Bringing Words to Life, which has become the go-to book for most educators around the topic of vocabulary instruction. These pages provide teachers with a quick and dirty guide to choosing words, presenting words to students, what it means to “know” a word, and how to review words for reinforcement and application.

After this crash course, teachers can read through the quick descriptions of games, many of which would work well in the adult classroom. Do these sound like fun?

Snowball—students write words and definitions on slips of paper, crumple them up, throw them at each other, and then students uncrumple one slip of paper each and find the partner that matches them. A bit wild and better to do at the end of class.

Jeopardy—For this game, you will need large pieces of paper with dollar amounts on one side and words on the other. Tape the pieces to the board in rows. Create categories for the words. $200 words should be easier than $400 words and $600 words. Students work in teams to choose categories and give the meaning of the word that appears on the card once it is turned over. Points are given for each word correctly defined and used in a sentence. The winning team gets small prizes.

Vobackulary—A vocabulary word is written on an index card and taped to a student’s back. The student can choose three fellow students to help her figure out the word. The students giving clues cannot use the word or a form of the word. If the student can use the three clues to figure out the word, they win the card.

Row Race—Words are written on the board in groups of five. The first student in a row of seats must choose one of the words in the group and write a definition or a sentence using the word correctly, the passes the paper back. As the paper moves farther back in the row, the process becomes more difficult because students have less choice. The first row to use all words correctly wins.

Swat—Words are written on the board. As definitions are read off, a student who knows what word is being defined can go to the board and swat the word with a fly swatter.

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About Kate Brandt

Kate Brandt is a Professional Developer in the adult literacy field in New York City and she loves her job. She loves her job so much that she commutes 2 hours per day, from her suburban home in Shrub Oak, New York, to get to work. She loves working in adult literacy because she gets to work with people who are smart, kind, and dedicated.

2 thoughts on “Word Games!

  1. ESOL learners enjoy word games; games allow learners to engage with content in a non conventional way. For example, Vobackulary would be excellent activity for learners whereby they are conversing with each other using content material but not in a so academic manner. Snowball sounds like a fantastic activity but I would a little hesitant about have learners throw them at each other. I can see learners taking this up a notch by using descriptive terms about themselves and placing them in a pile. Individuals can then pick up a term and try to match it to the right person.

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