These activities have been collected and written down by those of us who find word boxes useful and funny. If you would like to share your ideas, please do ?. The more, the better!
1. Musical pass-the-box activity. SS in a circle. Play some lively music. While the music is on ss pass the bag to each other in a circle. When you stop the music the person who keeps the box has to pick up a word and a) define it so that the others can guess, b) make a correct sentence with it, c) ask somebody else to define it. Any other suggestions welcome ?
2. Musical chairs or a wedding game (as ss often refer to it). Students walk around the chairs while the music is on. There should be one chair less than the number of students. When you stop the music, everybody should try to sit. The person who is left standing can be asked to do one of the things mentioned above.
3. Running definitions. Select a number of words from the box. Ss divided into groups. One member of the group comes to you to see the selected word. Then they run to their group and define the word so that the other members guess it. The next person runs to you to see the second word… And the game continues until you have run out of the selected words. If the group cannot guess the word at all, they skip it and take another one. If the defining person does not know the word, allow him/her to look it up in the dictionary or give a translation. Up to you. The idea is to get all the words in the shortest time possible.
4. Another speedy revision. Divide the students into groups, set the time limit of about 5-6 minutes and place the box in the middle of the room. One member of a group comes to the box, picks up one word, and runs to define the word to his/her group. If they guess the word, they keep it as a prize, if not - the word becomes a penalty. (For each word guessed they get a point, for the one not guessed – a “minus point”). Then another member of the group runs to the box, etc. The group that has most points at the end is the winner.
5. Categorizing. Throw all the words from the box on the floor. And ask ss to arrange them into categories (e.g. topical: clothes, weather, personality adjectives, grammatical: regular/irregular verbs, abstract nouns, extreme adjectives, adverbs etc, verbs followed by gerunds, pronunciation-related: e.g. words that include ? and ?, word we are not sure how to pronounce, etc) Or, ask your ss to create their own categories (this probably works better when they have got used to categorizing task a bit).
6. Use the words HERE and NOW. Ss pick a few words from the box at random. Their task is to remember the words and find the context to use them. You might ask them to use the words in an activity conducted in groups or they could be allowed to use the words whenever they want to throughout the whole class. It’s quite a mind stretching task, as they may have to use the vocab that is apparently not connected with the topic of the class at all. But just imagine how proud they will be, if they actually mange to do it! E.g. One of d5 students picked “gooey” and had to use it in a class discussion about billionaires. It wasn’t an easy task, was it? Still, she managed to throw “gooey” in: when the discussion turned to its money-can’t-buy-happiness stage, she said “For me happiness is a lovely, gooey chocolate cake, and you don’t need fortune to have it” ?. The feedback might be to ask ss to guess what words were picked by others.
7. Mini-interviews. Students pick one or two words and are asked to prepare conversation-provoking questions using these words. Here, it is probably better to select words a bit. All the verbs work pretty well. Topic-based selections are useful too.
8. Tic tac toe. Draw a grid on the board (12-16 squares). Select the words or let the students select them. Put one word in each square. Divide the students into teams. The aim is to get 3 squares in a line (horizontal, vertical, or diagonal). To get the square, the students need to a) define the word, b) make a grammatical sentence with the word in which the meaning of the word will be absolutely clear. Sentences like “I like chocolate” do not fall within this category ;)
9. Definitions – Ss pick one word from the box and define it to the rest of the class.
10. Guess the word – S picks a word, but doesn’t look at it – I define and he/she guesses.
11. Make a sentence – no explanations neededJ
12. Make a sentence 2 – everybody takes one word, then they get into pairs or groups of three and have to make one meaningful sentence together.
13. Ask a question – Ss pick words and make qs with them which they can ask either to the teacher only or go round and talk to several people and then report.
14. Make a story – Ss get into small groups/pairs, they get a bunch of words from the box and have to write a paragraph using them, you could additionally set the general topic (e.g. I did that on a Christmas class – they had to make short Christmas stories with words like rash, prescription, peel etc. – they results were really amazing )
15. Read my lips - no explanations needed
16. Find your word – before the class I hide some definitions in the classroom, then everybody gets a word and has to find their definition.
17. Word hunt - I scatter several words all over the classroom, then I call out definitions and they have to find the word as quickly as possible (a lot of fun)
18. Mushroom picking – good for general revision of words: before the class I scatter all the words all over the classroom. I chat about mushroom picking first, elicit that the major rule is never to touch the mushroom they don’t know, then I tell them that they are in the forest and they have mushrooms (= words) all over the place. They want to pick as many mushrooms as possible but they cannot take the ones they don’t know. Then, you can check in different ways whether they have really taken the words they know. The person who has the biggest number of mushrooms they really know is the mushroom champion.
19. Playing cards – Ss sit in pairs or small groups; everybody gets a pile of words, which they hold in front of them like cards; S points at one of another S’s cards and asks for a definition; if he/she guess the word, this word is out of the game, if not – he/she takes it and holds it in his/her pile (so that the word could ‘come back’ again). They play until they get rid of all the cards.
20. Happy / sad - Ss draw a happy and a sad face in their notebook, then I give everybody a pile of words and they divide them – ‘happy’ = I know, ‘sad’ = I don’t know. Next they try to find somebody in the group who will help them with the ‘sad’ words.
21. Ladder – divide the class into two or more groups, draw an adequate number of ladders on the board , put a word (face to the board, attach with a magnet) on every step of the ladder; groups take turn to try and climb their ladder by guessing the words on the steps. The first group to climb to the top is the winner.
22. Noughts and crosses - divide the class into two groups, draw a chart for noughts and crosses on the board; to put a cross/nought they have to explain or guess the word which is attached there.
- HomeSchool Bialystok Teacher Training (find it on google »)
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