My children love to toss water balloons, and I couldn’t help but think that combining a favorite pastime with word learning would make for an awesome vocabulary review activity. However, if you don’t want to get wet, you can also play this game with small balls or crumpled up pieces of paper.
SETTING UP THE WORD TOSS VOCABULARY REVIEW ACTIVITY
The set-up for this vocabulary review activity is simple. Divide your class into two teams (Team A & Team B) or four teams (Team A, Team B, Team C, and Team D), depending on your class size. Give each team a Word TossVocabulary Chart, and have the teams work together to select vocabulary words that will stump the opposing team. Remind students that they need to be sure to include accurate definitions and phrases that make sense to all players involved.
You’ll find that filling out the chart for this activity actually serves as a great review for students by itself. As the teams fill out their charts, students have to really consider words and their meanings.
Next, select two different colors of balloons and number each 1–20 before filling them with water. If you decide to forgo the water balloons and use small balls or crumpled up paper for this vocabulary review activity, make sure there are two distinct sets of 20 numbered and throwable objects. Note, if you decide to use water balloons for this activity make sure to have students pick up the broken balloon pieces after completing the activity.
Finally, divide the balloons (or balls) amongst the teams. If you divided your class into two teams, Team A will get the first color of balloons, and Team B will get the second color of balloons. For example:
Yellow Balloons Numbers 1–20 to Team A
Blue Balloons Numbers 1–20 to Team B
If you divided your class into four teams, Team A will get numbers 1–10 of the first color of balloons and Team C will get 11–20 of the first color. Team B will get numbers 1–10 of the second color of balloons and Team D will get numbers 11–20 of the second color balloons. For example:.
Yellow Balloons Numbers 1–10 to Team A
Yellow Balloons Numbers 11–20 to Team C
Blue Balloons Numbers 1–10 to Team B
Blue Balloons Numbers 11–20 to Team D
You can determine to the objective of the activity — for instance, to see which team soaks the other team the most, or which team throws and breaks the most balloons on a target far away. If you are playing with balls or crumpled paper rather than balloons, the team with the most baskets (into the basket of your choosing) wins.
To start the word toss, have each team line up in a row. The first player on Team A selects one of the balloons/objects and calls out its number. The first person on Team B looks up the corresponding vocabulary word for that number on their completed Word TossVocabulary Chart. The first player on Team A (with or without conferring with the group — your decision), then states the word’s definition or uses it in a sentence with context clues. The first player on Team B decides if the definition/sentence makes sense in accordance with the definition they have. You, however, have the final decision.
If the player for Team A answers correctly, s/he gets to throw the balloon/object at the target determined by you. If not, they must place the object to the side and no points are awarded.
Now, the first players move to the end of the line, and the second players for Team A and B are up. This time, the player for Team B selects the balloon/object and calls out its number, and the player for Team A read and defines the corresponding vocabulary word.
Continue playing until all balloons/objects have been tossed or moved to the side. If you want to give teams the opportunity at the end to put the discarded numbers back into play, feel free.
If you have four teams, I suggest that you have Team A and B competing at the same time that Team C and Team D are competing, so that more students are engaged during the entire challenge.
I’m excited about this vocabulary review activity and I think you will be, too. It gets students moving and interacting with one another. Best of all, it’s an opportunity for kids to go outside on a sunny day when they want to run, but still need to learn.