Many students love paying video games. As a teacher, I’ve heard countless conversations about which video games are the most fun to play, what gaming console is the most versatile, and which apps allow gamers to access virtual worlds with a single finger touch. Last week, I finally used the chatter to create a new classroom vocabulary game inspired by video games!
If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you know that I’m a huge fan of using games to teach vocabulary. When you use vocabulary games in the classroom, students not only learn from and with one another, but also become more excited about and engaged in learning. In fact, I’m so passionate about utilizing games to teach vocabulary that I’ve presented on this topic at education conferences, held webinars to share ideas, and written dozens of articles for my blog. Today, I’m dedicating another blog post to discussing and sharing a videogame-inspired vocabulary game.
The Vocabulary Video Game
Before students can be transported to a world of gold coins, elixers, and armour, there are a few things that you need to do.
First, gather materials.
This classroom vocabulary game comes with a lovely board template! The classroom vocabulary game download also includes a game key and player piece template. Teachers need to download and print six to eight Vocabulary Video Game game boards, as well as a game key and player piece template for each student. Teachers also need to have enough dice so that multiple game boards can be played at a single time. You can also find a free dice app that students can use on a digital device.
Second, have students complete their game board.
The Vocabulary Video Game game board includes a variety of shapes that appear on various spots along the game path. On the game key handout, students write in the task that is associated with each shape, so if a player lands on a spot with a specific shape, he or she knows what the corresponding task is. Here is an example of an appropriate task for a shape:
Gold Coin: If a player lands on a gold coin, they have 20 seconds to use a vocabulary word in a sentence. If they answer correctly, they get to penalize an opponent and make them move their game piece back one space on the board. If the answer is incorrect, the player does not get to advance on the game board.
Now, if you want to add an additional vocabulary exercise to the key creation process, have students use at least one vocabulary word when they write each shape’s task. Writing the rules using vocabulary words helps students to think concretely about the words’ meanings, while also allowing a great deal of autonomy as to how each vocabulary game is played. Below is an example of an appropriate task, using vocabulary to describe a shape:
Skull: If a player lands on the ominous skull, they must convey the vocabulary word’s definition to the opponent on their left. If this task is not successfully completed within 20 seconds, the player cannot advance on the game board. They must take a hiatus and miss a turn.
Third, have students assemble and name their vocabulary game pieces.
Another reason that this game improves student vocabulary is that students will give their game pieces names using vocabulary words. Students can have fun naming each player piece, from “Incognito Ivan” to “Frugal Fred.” (I also recommend printing the player pieces on cardstock, if possible, to make them more durable). Students will need to cut out their game pieces and then glue the tabs together to form a circle. This will allow the game pieces to be upright.
Play the Game
When students have filled in their game key, break the class into groups of three to six to play Vocabulary Video Game. Once students are sitting around a game board, each player will pick a number from 1 to 6. One player from each group will start by rolling the die. The player’s number that comes up will be the game key and pieces used for that round of Vocabulary Video Game. This player will also start the game by rolling the die first. The player to their right will go second.
To begin playing, students need a list of vocabulary word to complete the shape tasks. These vocabulary words can come from a textbook or be written on the board. Players start at the top of the list and use the words in the order they are listed. When a vocabulary word is used correctly, players move down the list. If the vocabulary word is not used correctly during a task, the next player will use that same word.
The player who gets to the castle first is the winner!