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Last week’s language arts blog post provided classroom materials on a Four Corners vocab activity as well as a classroom ready Vocab Bingo Board (clicking on the link will download a pdf). Of the numerous ways to incorporate vocabulary study into the classroom, here are a few other vocab games and activities you might want to try:

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Vocabulary Context Sentences

  • are at least six words long.
  • include context clues.
  • contain a line under the vocab word.
  • use the part of speech properly
  • avoid weak verbs: to be, am, are, is, was, were, have

Writing context sentences is a very flexible activity. It could be done individually, with a partner, or in small groups during class time. Always save some time to encourage students to share some of the sentences they write. If time allows, the sentences can become a game where each group writes their sentence on the main board or on individual whiteboards. Best sentences could be picked by the teacher or a student who would need to articulate why a particular sentence stands out over the others.

The following activities are part of various ways that I award  10, 7, or 5 extra credit points to a class for their performance at the end of each quarter. I keep a running tab on one of  the side whiteboards in the classroom so they can check how they stack-up against other classes.

Vocab Relay Race

1. Vocab sheet stays at your desk.

2. Turns go down and then up each row.

3. Say the term, define it, erase it.

4. Hand-off (not throw) the eraser.

5. Timer stops when last person sits.

I start on a different row each time so everyone eventually has to participate. To avoid utter chaos, I point to students and tell them the number of the vocabulary word that they are responsible for. The vocab relay race takes place two times each quarter by focusing on 15 out of 30 vocab words at a time. The words will need rewritten on the board after each round, so plan accordingly. If the class is too noisy, the person at the board has to say the word again, which costs them valuable seconds in the competition. Of course there are always a few party poopers in the bunch, but the spirit of competition usually wins in the end.

Musical Shares

1. Write your name on full sheet of paper. Number 1-4, skipping lines.

2. Backpacks out of aisle. When the music starts, walk around the room.

3. When the music stops, read your term and definition with the closest person.

4. Switch terms, walk when new music starts, and repeat process with new person.

5. After three rounds, place term in the bell work basket. Then write down terms and as much of the definition that you recall.

Musical shares can also be done without having students write the terms down, and you may want to use it that way with vocabulary and if you don’t see yourself awarding points. Not having them write the words and definition down would also allow time for exposure to more words. However, when studying literary term definitions, musical shares can be a good way to push students to use develop their memory recall.

Spelling and Definition Vocab Quizzes

Beyond the initial four corners word association assignment, a spelling quiz over ten words at a time takes place. It’s best to set aside another half hour at a later date for some more Vocab Bingo and the other word games can be worked in as time allows. Finally, a definition matching quiz occurs that contains a word bank of all 30 words and the students must know the 15 definitions that appear on the quiz. Such a format can fit on half a sheet of paper. I do post the 15 words that will appear on the definition quiz on the class website as a way to entice students to utilize that resource.

What are some of your favorite vocab games you’ve either encountered as a teacher or a student?


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