- Vocabulary instruction is a staple in any English classroom. Along with developing reading and writing skills, students need to build an extensive vocabulary. Instructing students in basic vocabulary can improve their ability to comprehend text and write eloquently. This necessary instruction can become tiresome, but teachers can make it less boring by integrating vocabulary games.
Vocabulary Ransom Note
- In this engaging activity, students use print media and other supplies, including scissors and glue, to produce a colorful and unique list of words as quickly as they can. Before class, type out the definitions of all the vocabulary words you are studying with your class. Leave three to four inches between the definitions.
When students arrive in class, pass out the definition lists you created, giving one copy to each student. Allow students to use their notes and determine which word goes with each definition. Then ask students to look through your magazines and newspapers and cut out letters to form each word. Students can glue the collected letters above the definition for that word.
Encourage students to hurry, reminding them that it is a race. This decreases the likelihood that students socialize or get off task, since you are making them eager to be the first to complete the challenge.
- Combine vocabulary words with traditional charades to produce an active and entertaining game. Before class, write the words on slips of paper. Repeat words if necessary to create a slip for each student. As the students enter, ask them to select a slip and take a seat.
Once class has begun, tell the students to look at their slips of paper. Inform the students that they will go to the front of the class one at a time to act out their word. Tell them that you are timing their effort, and that the student whose word is guessed the fastest gets a special treat.
Use a stopwatch to time the activity. This encourages students to think on their feet and move quickly through the activity.
Student-Created Vocabulary Puzzles
- Instead of providing students with a vocabulary review game, allow them to make the review themselves. As you near the end of a vocabulary unit, have the students create review puzzles. Ask each student to make a crossword puzzle that asks the solver to either match the word with the appropriate definition or select the correct word to fill in a sentence blank.
Students can create their puzzles by handwriting the clues and drawing puzzle squares on grid paper. They also can use an online puzzle maker like the popular Discovery Education tool.
After students have finished their puzzles, make copies. Engage students in a game featuring these puzzles. Place each puzzle one at a time face down on each student's desk. Then have them flip over the puzzle and solve it as quickly as they can. Reward the student who finishes first.
You can use a group of puzzles on a single day or spread the instruction out by using a puzzle at the start of each class.