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It is always useful to model an example of game play before the game begins. The games are listed in order of critical thinking required; the earlier games review the basics and the later games require deeper critical thinking. Get a printable list of these vocabulary games. Divide students into two or more teams. Give each team one minute to list as many words as possible from the current unit on a piece of paper. The team with the most words wins. If they miss a definition, the other team can take over explaining those definitions to win.

Look Out For: If you have a word wall, cover it during this game. Possible Modifications for ELLs and Students with Special Needs: Provide students with the first letter of the words or pictures of the words before they complete their list. Conversation Competition The Rules: Assign each student a partner. When the teacher says go, the students stand up and have a specific amount of time to talk with their partners on any appropriate subject.

The teacher should circulate the classroom during the game to engage students in conversation and keep them on task. The first students to finish win a prize, but only if they share their conversation with the class and used the words correctly. If not, the next group shares, and so forth.

5000 Vocabulary Words

Divide students into two teams. Write two lists of unit words on the board one for each member of each team. Each team forms a line leading to the board. If the student reads the word correctly, he or she erases that word. The first team to erase all the words on their list wins. Divide the class into two teams. Each member of the team is asked a vocabulary question definition, spelling, pronunciation, etc. If he gets that right, he has another chance at the basketball shot, but this time he must take a step or two back. This continues until the student misses a shot or gets a question wrong.

In either case, the next question goes to the other team. After everyone has had a turn, the team with the most points wins.

Defining the Words

Divide class into two groups and have them form an inner and outer circle, with students facing each other. For the first 15 seconds, each student in the inner circle asks a prepared vocabulary question about spelling, pronunciation, definition, example, etc.

When to Play

If the outer-circle student answers correctly, the inner-circle student signs his word list. For the next 15 seconds, the outer-circle student asks the inner-circle student a question, and signs her sheet if she answers correctly. Then students rotate to the right and repeat the process with the new students they face. Whoever has the most signatures at the end of the game time wins. Divide students into two teams and give each student a number.

Number 1 from each team comes to the front of the room. The teacher reads a clue related to a word the clue could be a definition or example of the word and the first person to slap the board or desk gets to answer. If correct, his team earns a point. If incorrect, the person from the other team has a chance to earn a point.

Repeat with the following sets of students. The team with the most points wins.


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One student from one team comes to the front of the class, chooses a word from the basket, and acts out the word without speaking. Whichever team yells out the correct word first earns a point. The next student to act out a word comes from the other team, and so on.

SAT-com | Free Vocabulary Videos for SAT, ACT, GRE and GMAT

Whichever team has the most points when time is called wins. One student from one team comes toWhichever team yells out the correct word first earns a point. The next student to describe a word comes from the other team, and so on. You may wish to limit each team to two or three guesses per turn.

One student from one team comes to the front of the class, chooses a word from the basket, and draws a picture representation of the word without writing any letters. The next student to draw a word comes from the other team, and so on. Hand at least one page of the newspaper or magazine to each student. Each student finds a picture or article that relates to a word from the week and cuts it out. After most students have found words, ask them to explain to the class why their picture or article relates to their word of choice.

Divide students into two teams and create a baseball diamond in your classroom or go outside if possible. The teacher is the pitcher. Each member of team 1 takes a word and stands in the infield and outfield. Team 2 stands in line at home plate.


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  5. The teacher asks a question from Fix the Mistake or Pick the Winner and then tosses the ball to the batter. The batter says the correct word and then throws the ball to the correct word. Then he annotates the text to show his understanding. Allowing students to Google Translate is recognizing that their native language is a tool to support understanding, communication, and engagement. We must ensure comprehensible input if we are to expect them to offer some output. Below is an image of when I worked with Ayaka, an EL at the Entering phase, understand science content. I like to end this session with having you hear from my students directly about their experience using these two Tier One vocabulary strategies Google Images and Google Translate to help them understand unfamiliar words.

    I hope that the initial ideas shared in this article provide you with some food for thought and validate your own vocabulary program. However, by modifying some existing games to include a focus on vocabulary words, the game-making process is easy. Let's take a look at how the following popular games can be tweaked to teach vocabulary words. In this classic card game, participants race to collect four similar cards and then grab a spoon before they are all taken.

    To modify this game, simply make a set of four cards for each vocabulary word. For each set of four, one card should have the definition of the word and the other three should name the vocabulary word. In order to get four of a kind, students need to collect the definition card and the three word cards. Once students collect four of a kind, they grab a spoon.

    If students see a spoon being taken, they also need to grab a spoon before they are gone! Concentration is a great game for students to play individually or with a group. To create a game, write one vocabulary word on a notecard and its matching definition on another notecard. To play, turn all the notecards upside down.

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    Taking turns, students flip over two notecards at a time to try to match the vocabulary word with the correct definition. Divide your class into teams. Write the vocabulary words on notecards and place into a hat. To play, you should pick one vocabulary per round. Each team sends one player to view the vocabulary word.

    These students have the option to draw the vocabulary word, act it out, or sculpt it using clay for their team. The first team to guess the vocabulary word wins the round. In the classic Taboo game, players try to have their team guess the word they are describing without using any of the forbidden words. To modify, write each vocabulary word on the top of a notecard and list three or four forbidden words underneath. Students need to describe the vocabulary word to their teams without using any of the forbidden words. Give students a list of vocabulary words to write in their bingo cards.

    As you play, read the definitions of the vocabulary words, and students can mark their cards if they have the matching word. As you can see, it can be easy to modify existing games to teach vocabulary within the classroom. Can you think of any other games that can be used to teach vocabulary? Besides games, teachers can use other creative methods to teach vocabulary words. Two of my favorite ideas are vocabulary newscasts and vocabulary freeze frames.

    Divide students into news teams and give them a list of vocabulary words. For each word, students need to create news stories to present to the class in a newscast. Divide students into small groups and give each group a vocabulary word. The students need to use their bodies to make a freeze frame scene of their vocabulary word.