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Games to Make Vocabulary Fun and Memorable! Three Review Games

written by: Elizabeth Porter • edited by: Wendy Finn • updated: 3/2/2012

Learning vocabulary is very boring and dry for most students and teachers! Students retain more when they are having fun. So let's take a look at three ways surefire ways to make vocabulary fun and exciting for your class (and for you!).

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    Voco

    Voco is the vocabulary version of Bingo! Instead of five columns filled with numbers the Voco chart has four columns and is filled with vocabulary words.

    Preparation:

    Create a 4 x 5 chart (four columns, 5 rows) with each letter of "voco" above each column. Leave the chart blank. Make enough copies of this for the whole class. Also, have enough "markers" or place holders for the class. You can also have students use small check or "x" marks with a pencil if you don't want the hassle of place holders.

    Instruction:

    1. Use a list of vocabulary from a lesson from any subject (Math, Social Studies, English Language Arts, or Science) that has at least 20 words. Students should have studied these words ahead of time. Students fill in the chart. One vocabulary word per box. Depending upon the amount of vocabulary words, you may choose to have a "free" space or not. If there are more than 20 words, then it works even better since it will be less likely to have more than one winner.
    2. Read off the definition of one of the vocabulary words. Students have to figure out which vocabulary word the definition corresponds to and check it off. Make sure to have your own list so that you can verify a "Voco!" when it comes.
    3. Students shout "Voco!" when they match four in any direction. I also make my students do some silly dance, but that's obviously optional. Prizes are up to you, but I like to give homework passes. I also like to change up the way they can win, just like in real bingo. For example: making the "L" shape, "X", four corners, etc. Play again!

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    Guess My Definition?

    This game requires a little more preparation than other games, but is a lot of fun. You can also adapt this game for math (the game is called "Guess My Number.")

    Preparation:

    Create an index card with a vocabulary word and another one with its definition. I find it is helpful to have one color index cards for words and another for definitions. Create enough so every student will have one vocabulary word and one definition. If there is extra, then students can get more than one.

    Instruction:

    1. Mix up the vocabulary words and their definitions. Each student should get at least one vocabulary word and one definition. Have students spread out in the classroom.
    2. Have one student start by reading off their vocabulary word.
    3. It is the students' job to see if they have the matching definition. When a student has it, he/she reads it to the class. If the class agrees, then both students give you the pair of matching cards and the student who had the definition reads off his/her vocabulary word. The process repeats until all the cards are read off.
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    Word Wall Race

    If you have a Word Wall in your classroom (a bulletin board with a list of vocabulary words) you may be struggling to decide how to properly use it. Here is a great game to play!

    Preparation:

    Create/maintain a word wall. You also need to create a worksheet that has all the definitions to all the words on your word wall. Leave blanks next to the definitions so that students can write the vocabulary word next to it. Don't write it in order! Mix up the definitions, so it's not too easy.

    Instruction:

    1. Break students into small groups. This can be between 2-6, depending on your class size.
    2. Give the students a sheet of paper with a list of definitions with blanks next to it. It's the group's job to come up with the correct words that match the definition using the word wall. Words must be spelled correctly!
    3. The first group (or first 3 groups) that complete it correctly win a homework pass, or any other prize.