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A quick, fun and engaging activity to have students learn and practice using vocabulary is a game called Flash Vocabulary. In this game students are paired up. Using a document camera or overhead projector, teacher places a vocabulary words down, showing the words on a screen or wall. Teacher can also just write the words and cover them up as well. One student has their back to the vocabulary and one student is facing the vocabulary (the direction of the screen). As the teacher flashes the vocabulary, the students facing the screen have to describe the vocabulary word or define it WITHOUT using the vocabulary word. As you can guess, students with their backs to the screen have to guess the vocabulary word.

To step it up, teachers may throw down a list of words. The goal then is to be the first pair to identify all the vocabulary words.

This game can be spur-of-the-moment, part of an anticipatory set, or break-up a long day of instruction.


Improving Student Learning through Effective Vocabulary Instruction page

Resourceful Book for Student Teachers and Job Seekers


Make vocabulary fun and the students will be more likely to learn it.  A great way to deliver this fun is through Jeopardy.  Please see the link below for grade-level and subject area Jeopardy games.  If none of the listed pre-made jeopardy games meet your needs, then they have a template to create your own.

What do you use in your classroom?  Send links, suggestions, ideas on how to best teach vocabulary to  We will then share it with other teachers.  Love to hear your thoughts!

Allowing students to use descriptions composed of everyday language is important in effective vocabulary comprehension and retention.  One way to do this is through a vocabulary self-awareness chart.  Teachers then can revisit this chart throughout the unit of study, creating multiple opportunities for students to monitor their learning of the vocabulary.

Here are the steps to completing this chart:

Student Directions:

  1. Examine the list of words you have written in the first column
  2. Put a “+” next to each word you know well, and give an accurate example and definition of the word.  Your definition and example must relate to the unit of study.
  3. Place a “check” next to any words for which you can write only a definition or an example, but not both.
  4. Place a “?“ next to words that are new to you.

You will use this chart throughout the unit.  By the end of the unit should have the entire chart completed.  Because you will be revising this chart, write in pencil.  


Vocabulary self-awareness chart (PDF)

Vocabulary self-awareness chart (WORD)

Improving Student Learning through Effective Vocabulary Instruction page