Is anyone else frantically planning, cleaning, or just stressing out as the school year looms over us? I was at a great workshop last week (Wexner Center for the Arts in Columbus, OH, -hello!), and one of the teachers led us in this great “icebreaker” game that lends itself to vocabulary development and fosters a jovial classroom dynamic.
This game is not of my own creation and is often called “Exquisite Corpse” according to our lovely game leader Kim, because theoretically, the first time it was played, those words were paired together. However, I am just going to call it a Vocabulary Icebreaker-and you can call it whatever best phrase the students come up with when they play it together!
Essentially, the game is very simple. Students are each handed a strip of blank paper (you can use the template I created or just cut up slips of blank paper), and students write the best adjective they can think of (have them try to use their previous vocabulary words) at the top of their papers.
Then they fold their papers back so that their adjective is hidden, and pass their slips on to the next person in their row/circle/group etc. That person writes the best noun that s/he can think of (again, push for vocabulary words here) and then folds the paper so it is not visible to the next participant. The next participant than writes an impressive verb on the slip. The game is repeated three more times in the same adjective-noun-verb order. The final player then adds any needed articles and fixes any verb tense issues to make the sentence grammatically correct. Students can share aloud the most novel, hilarious or befuddling sentences created by their peers.
Not only is this a fun way to see what students consider “vocabulary words,” and you can see the range of vocabulary prowess in your class, it is definitely a great way to foster a positive class community.
Let me know if you have played this game before, or any variations thereof, or if you have other great icebreakers that encourage vocabulary play!