My friend Misty shared with me a game she created as part of her work in brain studies at Johns Hopkins –yes, she’s that awesome! In this article, you'll discover the Memory with Words Vocabulary Game. Incorporating "Memory" into vocabulary instruction can reap academic rewards. Download the free vocabulary game template now!
How Visuals Can Impact Learning Vocabulary Words
“…Symbols and images are an integral part of literacy and can lead to a connection between word and image for the student. The brain functions related to reading involve the visual cortex and symbol recognition leads a reader a reader toward fluency. The auditory cortex helps for recognition and discrimination of words by their sounds. The temporal lobe guides the retrieval of memories to assist with comprehension. The hippocampus attaches a personal memory to relate readers to the text, the creation of personal images to the vocabulary should strengthen this. It has been reported that larger vocabulary allows the frontal lobes and temporal lobes of the brain to work together. (Lewis, 2011).”
How Memory With Vocabulary Words Works
Students create 5–15 visual representations of key vocabulary words (or concepts if you want to use literary ideas or tell your friends in other disciplines about this great approach). This can be done using index cards or other paper provided by the teacher (you could use the template grid I created if you wanted) or let students create the concepts at home on paper or computer.
When the visual representations are completed for each vocabulary word, one student partners up with another student who has the EXACT SAME WORDS and they share their drawings and explanations.
Each student takes turns flipping over two cards, one at a time. After each card is flipped over, the student says the vocabulary word aloud (reinforcing the connection between the word and the visual). If a student flips over two cards with the same word, then s/he wins that pair.
As my friend Misty explains, everyone is a winner because they all learned the vocabulary, but the winner of the game is the student with the most pairs once all cards are turned over.
Misty created some example cards using math and social studies terms (see below) but the game works just as well for all disciplines, including English. She also suggests that teachers could play this game several times and keep track of points, thereby have a reining class champion and runner up.
Because Misty wrote up this concept for a brain class, she has a very academic explanation of why this game is so successful in the classroom. Feel free to bring up her points if a student (or administrator) wants to know a cognitive rationale for playing this game:
Lewis, M.E.B. (2011) What is literacy? [PowerPoint slides}. Retrieved from the Johns Hopkins ELC site: http://cte.jhu.edu/login/home.cfm?r=218622
-Excerpt written by Misty Swanger, as part of her Johns Hopkins University School of Education Graduate Certificate in Mind, Brain, and Teaching.