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The method I have used most often to incorporate vocabulary into the language arts classroom is in the form of a four corners graphic organizer that has students make personal associations for pre-selected words from that quarter’s reading. The Vocab Template (clicking the link will download a pdf) will help you make your own handout or you could have students fold paper or large notecards to create four squares for each word.

A front to back photocopy will allow for 30 vocab words. Many alternatives exist for what can go into the boxes, such as having ELL students make a visual representation of the word.

Image of Vocabulary Worksheet

As soon as the list is handed out, I read each word aloud while the class highlights each vocab word. Then we do the first few examples together as a class. From there, I typically have them work alone for 10 minutes before getting together with a partner for another 10-15 minutes.

Image of Vocabulary Worksheet

Once students get the hang of the assignment, some can finish their associations in 10 minutes, and most can finish in 20. Otherwise, it becomes homework. The next step is to hand out a blank Vocab Bingo Board (clicking the link will download a pdf).The larger vocab bingo board uses more paper, but allows enough room to write the word and the definition.

Image of Vocab Bingo Board

I keep small jars of bingo chips in a back cabinet so students can get them when their boards are complete. I use a cut apart word list which I then shuffle through to call out the words. From round to round, I will vary how I call. At first, I will read the word and the definitions. At times, I only do the definition and then they call out the word. Toward the end of class I might just say the word twice in quick succession.

Regular bingo or four corners works best. Anytime I’ve attempted to play blackout most of the class bingos at the same time. For each bingo I let them come up and pick a jolly rancher out of a bag. Or if you have a policy against such rewards, I’m sure the small excitement of game play will suffice. Before class ends, I have them pass their board forward for safe keeping so everyone will have a copy when we play again.

Accommodations: If the word associations prove too difficult, a student could re-write each word and definition instead. As for the quizzes, struggling students could be held accountable for every odd or even numbered word. If that proves too difficult, I have also gone in and selected 10 words the student must show mastery over by the end of the quarter. If you go with the larger vocab bingo board, some special needs students may not be able to write fast enough to do both the word and definition, so they would just write the word.


Have you participated in People Bingo either as a teacher or a student? How did it go?


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