To play, divide your class up into two teams (or four teams if you have an especially large class). Have each team come up with a team name that incorporates a vocabulary word. They can then cut out and pin their team name badges to their shirts.
While they are completing these tasks, place the printable “home plate,” “pitching mound,” “first base,” “second base,” and “third base” signs around the room, mimicking a baseball field, with “home plate” being at the front of the room. If you have four teams, you will need to set up two baseball fields.
To begin, one team will be up to bat and the other team will be pitching. Each team lines up single file.
The first player on the “batting” team steps up to the front of the room onto the home plate printable. The first player on the “pitching team” stands across from him or her. The pitcher then “throws out” a vocabulary word and asks the student to either define it or use it in a sentence. The “batting” student has 30 seconds to respond correctly. If his or her answer is correct, the player gets to move on to first base. If the pitcher finds the student’s answer problematic, the teacher (or another student playing the neutral umpire) can call the answer as a hit or a miss.
If the answer is a miss, the student can take two more guesses as to the right definition or proper sentence. If the student fails three times to define/use the word correctly, he or she has “struck out” and must return to the back of the line.
Once the first batter has moved (either onto first base or back to the end of the line), the next batter steps up from the team line, as does the next pitcher from the other team. Again, the pitcher “throws out” a vocabulary word for the student to define or use in a sentence, and this second batter must answer accordingly. If answered correctly, the second batter gets to move onto first base and the original player (if on first base), gets to advance to second base.
Just like in baseball, teams only get points when a player reaches home plate. In this case, however, reaching home plate occurs more systematically, as players rotate one base per correct answer. If you want, students can try to steal bases, but such students must be “thrown” a quick vocabulary word from the pitcher and students only have 15 seconds to correctly use the word in a sentence or define it. If incorrect, the player is out and goes to the end of the team line. If correct, the student can advance one base. Only one attempt at stealing a base per student (or maybe per inning) should be allowed to keep the chaos to a minimum.
The game continues just like in baseball with a team “striking out” after three students have failed to correctly define or use a vocabulary word and then the pitching team becomes the batting team and vice versa. Students should remain in their ordered team lines to ensure that everyone has an equal chance to play.
You can play seven innings or fewer depending on the time constraints in your day—perhaps you play an inning every Friday and keep track throughout the spring and even have multiple games.