10 Games to Play with ANY Vocabulary Word


Did you know that one essential component of teaching reading is to specifically teach vocabulary to your students? Sometimes vocabulary is passed over for what may seem like more urgent areas of reading fluency and comprehension. But in order for students to deeply understand the text they read, they must have a rich vocabulary knowledge. Don’t stress about finding a way to systematically teach vocabulary. Instead look no further than my EDITABLE Vocabulary Activity Bundle!

Just like our beloved EDITABLE Spelling Resource these Vocabulary Activities work in exactly the same fashion:

  1. Enter your vocabulary list into the first page of the packet.
  2. Choose the activities you want to use that week. (We have 30+ activities to choose from!)
  3. Print those activities.

Choosing Vocabulary Words to Practice

Before I jump into some of my favorite activities my students have been using to become “Vocabulary Victors”, let’s talk about how to choose those Tier II and III vocab. Here’s my method on how I select powerful vocabulary words each week.

  • Preread the weekly texts your students will be reading in your ELA block. As you read, look for words that may be unfamiliar to your students but are often seen in other texts. These are called Tier II Vocabulary. 

        These words are those that we want students to learn because they are frequent but                can be complex in meaning. Examples of Tier II words are: fortunate, maintain, and                    analysis. I make sure 6-7 of my 10 vocabulary words each week are Tier II words.

  • Then reread the texts and select a few Tier III Vocabulary Words. Tier III words are words that are specific to the meaning of the text your students will be reading. These words are usually less common and won’t be seen regularly. Examples of Tier III words are: photosynthesis and constitution.
  • Then you want to make sure and pre-teach these words prior to reading your ELA texts each week as part of your Monday reading lesson. I always give students a kid-friendly definition, a picture, and a sentence for the word. They then help me come up with a motion to help us remember the word as well as any synonyms and antonyms for the words if that applies.

         We fill out the vocab models page together for each word as a class activity. Then all                 week long they get a chance to practice their vocabulary knowledge with the                               vocabulary activities!

So, which activities are my favorite? It’s hard to choose, but right now my class is loving these 10!

1. Vocabulary Cards

Once you type your words into the word list on the first page, all the activities get pre-filled with the words you selected! Plus the file auto-creates vocabulary cards! These are great to keep at each of the vocabulary stations. They can also be stored to create a vocabulary word box or ring for your students.

2. Word Detective Bookmark

Search for each word in the weekly text and write a definition based on the context of the word. Then use that bookmark to mark your place in the book all week long.

3. Roll & Draw

Roll a dice and write the word you rolled. Then illustrate its meaning.

4. I Don’t Belong

Create a four-word box – the vocabulary word, two synonyms and then one word that doesn’t belong. Quiz a partner and see if they can figure out which word is the odd one out.

5. Vocabulary Squares

Grab a partner and a colored marker. Take turns connecting the dots with lines. When a box is formed, write a vocab word in the box and tell your partner the definition. If you get the definition right you get a point. If the definition is wrong, your partner gets a point!

6. Vocabulary Tic-Tac-Toe

Here’s another fun partner game. Instead of using X’s and O’s, write a word in the box. If you can give its definition you get the box, if not your partner gets the spot. Three in a row wins.

7. Spin, Draw, and Define

Spin the spinner and write the word you spun. Then write the word’s meaning and add an illustration of the definition.

8. Vocabulary Word Surgery

Practice those complex phonics skills by breaking each vocab word up into the prefix, root word, and suffix of the word. Then write the definition.

9. Playing Vocabulary Words

Have fun and games with vocabulary when Playing Words. Each space has a vocabulary word. When you land, give the word’s definition, or a synonym or an antonym. If you get it right, stay on the square. If you’re wrong, go back two spaces.

10. Super Sentences

Practice writing each word in a sentence of your own. 

BONUS #11. Guess My Vocabulary Word

Write a riddle or clue for each word and have your partner guess the word you are describing.

I hope you and your students have a blast learning new vocabulary with these super simple games and activities. Our goal at Education to the Core is always to create engaging, simple to use resources, that reflect the best possible teaching practices. This one checks all the boxes! Have fun!

Written By: Andrea Gudmundson

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