6 Vocabulary Games for Any Word List

Vocabulary instruction is so critical in today’s classroom! A strong foundation in vocabulary will help students to become better readers and writers. In part 5 of my vocabulary series, I am sharing some of my favorite vocabulary games to help maximize learning.

In my previous posts, I have walked though Marzano’s Six Step Process for teaching vocabulary words. They are:

  1. Describe and Explain
  2. Restate and Explain in their OWN words.
  3. Create a Drawing
  4. Enrich and Explain their Knowledge (synonyms, antonyms, prefixes, etc…)
  5. Collaborate with others (partner work, think-pair-share, etc…)
  6. Involve with play (games, word work, etc…)

Research shows that effective vocabulary instruction can happen in just 15 minutes a day. I have developed a vocabulary routine that keeps my vocabulary instruction simple. Here is what my weekly vocabulary routine looks like.
Monday: Introduce and Explore
Tuesday Visualize and Define
Wednesday: Synonyms and Antonyms
Thursday: Apply in Writing
Friday: Review with Vocabulary Games

I love using vocabulary games to practice and review words because they help keep students engaged. When students are engaged, they remember more while having lots of fun all at the same time! Today I am sharing six different games that can be used with any word list.

Vocabulary Game 1: Spot It and Mark It

Spot It and Mark It is the perfect vocabulary activity to a quick review. I always incorporate this into my guided reading groups as a quick warm up.

Each student will need their own set of vocabulary cards. I like to copy my sets onto colored paper so each child can easily identify their set of cards without them getting mixed up. Then I keep each set of cards together with a paper clip.

Vocabulary Game Spot It and Mark It Activity

Have your students place their set of vocabulary words in rows in front of them. You will ask a question relating to the words in front of them and your students will answer by placing their paper clip on the word to represent their answer. Some ideas include:

  • word recognition
  • recognizing a particular vocabulary word in a sentence
  • calling out the definition of a word
  • saying the synonym of a word
  • saying the antonym of a word

Example: Show me the word that has the synonym puzzled.

Vocabulary Game Spot It and Mark It Activity

This simple vocabulary activity won’t take up a lot of time. It is a great way for you to check for comprehension.

Vocabulary Game 2: Memory Match

Memory is most definitely a new game but it sure is a good one. Using index cards or this pre-made template, have your students write out their vocabulary word along with the definition.

Vocabulary Game Vocabulary Memory Game

Students shuffle up the cards and place them face down in an array. Students take turns flipping two cards. If the two cards that were flipped over match, they keep them. If they do not match, they flip the cards back over and try again. This repeats until all the vocabulary words have been matched with their meaning.

Vocabulary Game Vocabulary Memory Game

Vocabulary Game 3: Guess My Word

Guess My Word is one of my favorite whole group vocabulary activities to play. Display the spinner board under your document camera. Select a student to come up to the board and assign them a vocabulary word. They have to spin the spinner and do the action they land on. The students that are sitting down have to guess which word is being represented.

You could also have your student play this game in teams or small groups.

Vocabulary Game Guess My Word for Word Work

Vocabulary on the Move

Vocabulary on the Move is the perfect activity to get your students up and moving. Not to mention it is super fun and engaging.

Using sentence strips, create a headband. Use a paper clip to place an index card onto the headband. Do not show your student which word they have.

Vocabulary Game Headband Activity

Have your students pair up into partners. Using the Vocabulary on the Move recording sheet, they can ask their partner any question. Then, they must answer to help give them a clue to what word they have. Then they switch partners and repeat until they have completed their worksheet and guessed their word.

Vocabulary Game Vocabulary on the Move

You can have this free vocabulary activity sent straight to your inbox. Just sign up below!

Vocabulary Game 4: Rolling Vocabulary

Rolling Vocabulary is perfect for word work and independent practice.
Using a dice, your students will roll a number. They must complete the directions next to the matching number in their writing journal.

Rolling Vocabulary Game for Word Work

Vocabulary Game 5: Vocabulary Lanyards

Vocabulary lanyards are the perfect way to incorporate vocabulary words throughout your day. You’ll need a class set of lanyards. Using index cards, write vocabulary words on them and place inside the tag holder of each lanyard.

Vocabulary Game Lanyard Activity

Throughout the day have your students refer to their words in multiple ways. Here are some ideas:

  • Lining Up:
    • If you are wearing the word that means _____, you can line up. If you
    • Line up if you are wearing the word that means the opposite of _________.
  • Ask questions about their word before entering or leaving the classroom, walking down the hallway, or standing in line somewhere.
  • If you are wearing the word that means ____, then switch with the word that means _____.
  • Add definitions, sentences, synonyms, and antonyms to lanyards. Have students practice grouping themselves together with the cards that go together.

Vocabulary Game 6: Bingo!

What kid doesn’t love bingo?!? Why not incorporate it with your vocabulary words? Using this Vocabulary Bingo sheet, have your students write their vocabulary words in the blank squares. They can write each word more than once or you can use a mix of words from units or subjects. They get to decide where each word goes. When you call out a word, if they have it on their board, they can cover it or color it. The first person to get five in a row wins!! You could even challenge them by calling out the definition of a word, using it in a sentence or calling out a synonym or antonym.

Vocabulary Game Bingo Board

More Ideas?

You can never have too many ideas up your sleeve! This blog post features 4 vocabulary games that you can play with your students in 15 minutes or less!

Vocabulary games for any word list
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