Teaching vocabulary in middle school can be quite challenging. Not only are the words becoming more difficult, but students are also becoming less and less interested.
Creating and finding activities that will help to keep kids engaged and excited about vocabulary instruction is vital to having a successful classroom community. It's also important to switch up the activities from time to time.
Therefore, having a strong foundation of vocabulary activities in your teacher toolbox is crucial for a year of successful instruction of vocabulary.
1. Vocabulary Quilts
Students love creating these quilts! By middle school your kiddos should understand what the overall project is going to look like, therefore, they'll spend a bit more time creating the perfect square for the quilt. Hanging this in the classroom will boost vocabulary retention.
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2. Word of the Week
The word of the week is important for not only student vocabulary learning but also for their confidence. This activity can help provide middle school students with the space of using sophisticated vocabulary in their writing and speaking.
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3. Vocabulary Graphic Organizer
There are a variety of different organizers out there specifically made for vocabulary. This one is great because it can fit more than one word but still gives enough information to help your kiddos actually understand the word.
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4. Vocabulary Bingo
Bingo is a loved game and a super fun activity. Whether you have definitions from your vocabulary list on the Bingo boards and words in your hand or vice versa, it is sure to help build your middle school student's academic vocabulary.
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5. Sticky Ball Tic Tac Toe
Spice up your middle school vocabulary lesson this week with sticky ball tic tac toe. Students will learn to quickly use their critical thinking skills in order to comprehend the definition or picture used to describe the word. Whoever hits the correct word with their sticky ball gets that box.
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6. Think, Pair, Share
Working with the upper-grade levels can often be challenging for an English Teacher. Finding different ways for engaging vocabulary instruction should be at the top of your list. Activities for teaching vocabulary like this one are perfect for both getting middle school students to work together and gaining a deeper understanding of the words.
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7. Context Clues Overview
If your students don't actually understand what context clues are, how are they supposed to use them? Figuring out challenging vocabulary through context clues is a skill that most students unknowingly have. Making sure that your students have the background knowledge to support this skill can be crucial to their overall skill levels.
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8. Hot Seat
Hot seat is a great way to either practice common vocabulary or academic vocabulary. This will help your middle school students to be excited about the direct vocabulary instruction and of course, the challenge. This game can be very nerve-racking, so should be played with caution and in a comfortable classroom environment.
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9. Pictionary Race
This game can literally be played at any grade level. It is quite a creative vocabulary assignment for students. It's low prep, but high demand in the middle school classroom. Your students will love the competition atmosphere but will also feel comfortable answering the questions.
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Bluff is a game that is a bit more complicated, but super fun. This game can be used as an informal assessment and help you to understand middle school students' connections to vocabulary words in a particular unit or lesson. This will also help students to figure out their poker faces early on.
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11. Vocab Ninja
This will challenge your middle schoolers in both spelling and vocabulary. Using the week's assigned vocabulary, set this game up for students. Instead of writing the letter for hints, it might be beneficial to write words from the definition. You could even sort of making it into a fill-in-the-blank activity. Try using cards or a slide show instead of writing on the board.
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12. Vocabulary Trading Cards
Vocabulary trading cards! This creative activity can easily be created by the teacher for any class vocabulary instruction. Students will enjoy creating the vocabulary cards and will also love trading cards with other students. Allow students to trade their cards or put them up on the word wall!
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Jenga is hands down one of the best games to keep in your classroom. Simply purchase a wooden Jenga set and print out the definitions (or words) on pieces of paper and tape them onto the blocks. When students pull out the block they'll have to define what they see. Jenga can be used in small groups or if you have more than one set make it into an exciting review tournament.
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14. Word Wall
Having a word wall is essential in the middle school classroom. With a proper functioning word wall, students will be able to recognize and understand more vocabulary. A constant reference of vocabulary words has been proven to aid students in better vocabulary retention and spelling.
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15. Free Rice
Free Rice is a phenomenal website. It not only helps students with essential vocabulary standards, but it also helps them to give back! Every right answer donates a grain of rice to communities around the world.
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16. Word Association
This game hits both the goal of vocabulary instruction and the goal of classroom collaboration. Working together students in groups or as a whole class will come up with different words associated with the vocabulary word.
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17. Bean Bag Toss and Answer
This game for vocabulary can really be used in any classroom and for any word list. Simply write the words on a piece of paper, have students toss their bean bags, and then give a definition for the word. This game can also be played on a smaller scale with a ping pong ball and a muffin tin.
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18. Create a Gameshow Quiz
Students in middle school will secretly or outwardly love the Gameshow quiz! This game can be created with literally any list of vocabulary, questions, or definitions you can find.
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19. Wack A Mole
If you're looking for an activity for students during small group instruction or a way to get them to study in their free time try creating a Wack A Mole activity with your vocabulary words. This fun vocabulary activity will have your students begging for more.
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20. Crossword Puzzle
Last but certainly not least, is a good ol' fashion Crossword Puzzle. After finishing all of the other fun and engaging vocabulary activities your students will love how easy completing this Crossword Puzzle will be!
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