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English Language Arts Blog

The home of Vocab Gal and other educational experts K–12 resources

March 1, 2023 VG Vocabulary Games 6-12, VG Vocabulary Games K-5, VG Seasonal Activities Spring, Vocab Gal, ELA K-5, ELA 6-8, ELA 9-12, ELA Seasonal - Spring, ELA Resources - Games, ELA Focus - Vocabulary

March Madness Vocabulary Game Printable, Grades 2–12

Have students fill out brackets for vocabulary words and let them decide the "ultimate vocabulary word" in the categories of nouns, verbs, and adjectives. With Bracket Battle, my March Madness inspired vocabulary game, students will learn vocabulary autonomously as they each control their own bracket. Plus, they will review parts of speech and practice using words in the correct context!

Download Bracket Battle, my March Madness vocabulary game now!


A March Madness Vocabulary Game

How to Play Vocab Bracket Battle  

Step 1

First, download my printable Bracket Battle Vocabulary Game. Within this download, you'll find an instruction sheet, example vocabulary brackets for elementary and upper-grade levels, and a blank bracket template. 


Download Now

Copy the printable bracket template to provide students with three blank bracket sheets. They will use one bracket template for nouns, one bracket template for verbs, and one bracket template for adjectives.

Have them start by filling in the far left eight spaces with vocabulary words that are that specific part of speech.

Note: The words they fill in can be on the current vocabulary list or a mix of old and new words—whatever words you want them to review. Please remind them that each bracket can only have words that are THAT specific part of speech, and, if they are working with one specific vocabulary unit, they may need to use some older words so that they are able to complete their charts.

Step 2

In the first column, have students write one sentence using both of the words in each initial face-off.

For example, if the first bracket has the word “admonish” competing against the word “commandeer” students should write a sentence using both words, which somehow highlights why one of the words is "greater” than the other.


In this example sentence, the use of the vocabulary word "commandeered" is greater, so it wins the first round.

Note: Why one word defeats another is arbitrary and up to the students; as long as students are using the vocabulary words correctly in sentences, they can determine the winner for any reason. The subjects of the sentences can be anything. Students can even write about basketball teams if that makes the vocabulary bracket more engaging to complete. The goal is to help students with their vocabulary-building skills. The ways by which each student contrasts the words should not matter, as long as their context is correct!

Step 3

Once students have written sentences for the initial duels, they should then write sentences using the winners of each bracket. Again, for each pairing, each sentence should use both words and highlight one word dominating the other.

Step 4

When students complete their brackets and have a final “vocabulary winner” in the noun, verb, and adjective categories, have them turn in their sheets. Once you have collected all students’ brackets, determine which word in each part of speech was found to be the winner most frequently, and give all students who picked that word a prize, or put their names on a big basketball in recognition, etc.

Note: You decide how to reward students! I recommend hanging all the brackets up for students to compare and perhaps even have multiple winners in categories such as:

  • Most creative use of words
  • Best illustrated bracket
  • Best use of short sentences
  • Best use of puns in sentences

In Summary

With this March Madness vocabulary game, students use words creatively to win a bracket battle competition. I’ve read about March Madness brackets being used for poetry and short story analysis, so the options for English teachers are limitless–ultimately, it’s all about engaging students in reading, writing, and interpretation! 

Download the Bracket Battle Vocabulary Game now.