3 More Easy Vocabulary Games

easy vocabulary games english teachers

“Necessity is the mother of invention.”

When it comes to education, truer words have never been spoken. Surely every teacher can relate to that feeling of panic when, surrounded by a group of restless teenagers, the fact that the photocopier will be fixed in three hours offers no hope.

This is the battle field. And you have been sent without a clue.

But it is precisely in these anxiety-ridden moments that your best comes ideas come out. At least that’s how it works for me. I invent vocabulary games. Here’s some of my best to add to the others, either invented in the moment or gained from some educational book or another:

1.SNOWBALL

Materials needed: Each student must have a pen/pencil and a piece of paper.

Prep time: 5 minutes to write the words of the week on the board.

Write your current vocabulary words on the board. Tell the students they must write a true and anonymous statement about themselves using one of these words in a sentence or two. Once they have written these true and anonymous statements, have them crumple the paper in a ball to create a word “snowball.” When you say “go,” have them throw their word snowballs in whichever direction they want. After that, have them find a snowball, open it, read its contents, and guess at the author of the statement. Go through all the statements; have students stand and read their statements; ask them to guess who wrote the statement; congratulate those who get it right; and move on to the person who wrote the latest statement.

As you go, it helps to comment on the statements to learn about your students and build community. Must use with mature students. This game is a classroom favourite!

2.  POP UP STORIES

Materials needed: None.

Prep time: 5 minutes to write the words of the week on the board.

Write your current vocabulary on the board. Next, explain to students that together, you are going to tell a story. The way pop up stories works is as follows:
1) You, the teacher, start the story, using and emphasizing one of the vocabulary words:

“Jason was the most credulous teenager to have ever lived…”

2) The student in the class who wants to continue the story with a sentence or two one of your vocabulary word stands or “pops” up. When more than one student pops up to add to the story, choose the one who pops up the fastest. The chosen student then adds a sentence using a vocabulary word and sits down.

3) Keep the story going as needed, but rely on the students who pop up to tell the story.

This game is ideal for a creative or gifted group of students.

3. THAT’S GREAT, TELL ME MORE!

Materials needed: None.

Prep time: 5 minutes to write the words of the week on the board.

Write your vocabulary list on the board.

Tell the students that in a moment, they will engage in a improv exercise with their partners.

In partners they will begin with the taller person/person with bigger hands/person with darker eyes telling a story using one of the vocabulary words such as “I once lived beside a very credulous old man.”

The partner’s response to a line in a story is always and enthusiastic, “That’s great, tell me more!”

While the other partner is encouraging the other, the speaking partner has a chance to think of the next line of his/her story using a different vocabulary word. The aim of this exercise is to squeeze out a complete story from the speaking partner using as many vocabulary words as possible within 2-3 minutes until the partners switch roles.

I always hear lots of laughter in the room when we play this game!

THE BENEFITS OF VOCABULARY GAMES

While I pride myself on providing rigorous English instruction in my classroom, that doesn’t mean my class must be boring. In my honours class, for example, we celebrate vocabulary with Word Wednesdays. Students coming in to class on Wednesday will often say, “Yessss, it’s Word Wednesday!” It’s a sign that the vocabulary games are working and making them excited about school.

And I’m happy about that.

To your teaching success and work-life balance,

P.S. To see my original list of vocabulary games, see the post: 5 Easy Vocabulary Games to Fill Class Time (No Prep).