Categories: A Vocabulary Game

The end of the term is in sight. Testing and conferences are on the agenda. It’s a good time to lighten the mood with some classroom games. Here’s an easy one that can be adapted for all levels and can be expanded to fit the time you have.

1. Write the name of a category on the board, such as animals, fruits and vegetables, clothing and accessories, occupations, family members, states in the United States, countries in the world. Clear-cut categories with concrete nouns work best for this game.

2. Ask the class to name an example of the category, such as “elephant” if the category is animals. Write it on the board. Make sure everyone understands the category. (For lower-level classes, it may help to work through a sample category together, compiling a list of words as a class. Then choose another category for the competition.)

3. Divide the class into two or three teams, depending on class size. It’s good to mix students of different abilities; you may also want to have students put away dictionaries and electronic translators, so that no team has an unfair advantage. The teams huddle on opposite sides of the room. One student on each team has paper and pencil and
acts as the recorder.

4. Allow two minutes for the teams to write down as many words as they can that fit the selected category.

5. When time is called, the recorders go up to the board together to write their teams’ lists.

6. Count 1 point for each word and see which team wins. A variation for higher-level classes is to count 2 points for each correctly spelled word and 1 point for words spelled incorrectly. Work with the class to correct the spelling and clarify the meaning of all the vocabulary on the board.

If you have time, choose another category, or ask students to suggest one. Different students should serve as recorders for each round.

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