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17 Printable Vocabulary-Building Games
By: Vocab Gal
I love vocabulary-building games and activities; the students are always excited to learn and the classroom becomes a genuinely positive space. I can always count on vocabulary games to get my students internalizing words in unique and thoughtful ways. And happy students engaged in learning is always something to celebrate!
17 Printable Vocabulary-Building Games
Throughout my many years of teaching and blogging, I have created dozens of classroom vocabulary games and activities. This passion for creating new and exciting ideas for the classroom is fueled by the positive feedback I get from teachers I network with online, in webinars, or at education conferences.
Today I want to share two new vocabulary-building games I've recently added to my collection. As well as remind you of some of my favorites.
It doesn't matter if students are in the classroom or at home on break, these vocabulary-building games will have kids practicing vocabulary terms without even realizing it. Best of all....everyone wins with these classroom vocabulary games, as everyone will deepen their understanding of new words!
#1 Vocabulary Question Cube
The first game is called "Vocabulary Question Cube" and uses a cube or a beach ball. This classroom vocabulary game may sound quite familiar, but perhaps you haven’t thought about tossing around a three-dimensional shape for vocabulary review.
Setting Up the Game
First, find a large lightweight object of your choice (I like to use a beach ball or soft cube).
Next, write (or paste) the following words to various sides of the object: synonym, antonym, define, use in a sentence, use in a simile, connect to other vocab.
Then all you have to do is play!
Playing the Game
This game can be played with an entire class and one object, or with small groups that each have their own labeled object.
The object of this vocabulary-building game is simple – a student catches the object and has to perform the action on the side of the object that s/he can see. The action is performed for a vocabulary word selected by the student who tosses the ball.
If the catcher answers correctly, s/he gets to throw the ball to another student. If the catcher fails, s/he is out and the student who tossed the object picks up the object and throws it to another player.
For example, if Josh catches the ball from Tiffany and the word facing Josh on the ball is “synonym,” he must provide a synonym for the vocabulary word that Tiffany picks. If Tiffany tells Josh the word is “exhilarated” and Josh answers “excited,” Josh now gets to toss the ball to a new player. If Josh cannot provide an accurate synonym for “exhilarated,” he is “out” and so must sit down. Tiffany then gets to toss the ball to another student.
You, as the instructor, can determine when to stop. Anyone who is left standing is a winner and earns the reward of your choice.
Alternate Printable Version
An alternative to the toss-and-catch Vocabulary Question Cube is my printable cube template. With this worksheet, students can cut and paste together their own cubes for playing in small groups or at home! What I like about this template is that it allows students to make up their own versions of the Vocabulary Question Cube activity.
In groups, students can roll the cube to one another and play the same game as outlined above. Another option is to roll a pair of cubes at once for more of a challenge. Or students can use the cube at home as a studying tool! Download the printable Vocabulary Question Cube Template now.
#2 Vocabulary Scrabblez
Scrabble®, by Parker Bros., has been around for everyone’s enjoyment, young and old, since 1938 and can bring fun and vocabulary learning into your classroom. Ironically, I am not a good Scrabble® player because I cannot visualize words when the letters are scrambled. However, many of my friends and students are great at Scrabble® and use it to test their vocabulary prowess!
I've created a worksheet that turns Scrabble® into a vocabulary-building game you can use in the classroom.
Playing the Game
There are two ways you can play my Vocabulary Scrabblez game. You can a) bring a Scrabble® board game (including letter tiles) into the classroom and use it with the Vocabulary Scrabblez Score Sheet or b) project letter tiles with their point values on the board and use it with the score sheet.
The first option is played in groups of 2–4 players. Using the board and letter tiles, students will play Scrabble® (directions are included in my download). Students will each play 5–10 words depending on how much time to devote to the activity. Each player will then record the words they played and their point values on the Vocabulary Scrabblez Score Sheet.
The second option is to play as a class. Using the projected letter tiles, students will fill in their Vocabulary Scrabblez Score Sheet with ten vocabulary words that they think are the highest in point value in a set amount of time. The time can be anywhere from 8–15 minutes.
However, to keep Vocabulary Scrabblez Game from simply being a numbers game, for each word listed, students also have to explain why it is an awesome vocabulary word. Therefore, this simple classroom vocabulary game becomes a true vocabulary-building activity!
If your students play with the Scrabble® game board, players will determine the winner by comparing their Vocabulary Scrabblez Score Sheet. If you play as a class, once you call time, the five students with the highest point values step forward.
They must read aloud their explanations of why each of their selected words is awesome, and the class (or the teacher) determines which student deserves to be heralded as the winner. Download the printable Vocabulary Scrabblez Game now!
#3–#17 Printable Vocabulary Games
Finally, here are 15 additional vocabulary games you can print for free and play in your classroom! Click on the "Download Now" buttons to learn more about the individual games.