Vocabulary Games for Middle School

In order for middle school students to truly add new words to their personal vocabularies, they must work with the words multiple times over a length of time! While we could ask students to write sentences with the vocabulary words over and over again, that’s not nearly as fun as utilizing vocabulary learning games!

In my vocabulary resources, while I have included a review worksheet activity for each weekly vocabulary quiz, I LOVE  to play review games with my students!  It is such a fun way to get students moving AND working with the week’s vocabulary words at the same time!

Here are a few of my all-time favorite crowd-pleasing Vocabulary Review Games:

  • Garbage Can Basketball Vocabulary Game – Students are divided up into teams. Whem it is a team’s turn, I ask a team member to spell a word or provide its definition. If they answer correctly, the team member gets a chance to shoot a mini basketball into the (clean) garbage can or a Little Tykes basketball hoop if you have one. Another point can be earned from stating the definition.

    I usually have three masking tape lines on the floor to mark a 1-point shot, 2-point shot, and 3-point shot. The higher the risk, the higher the reward in this game!

    Ground Rules: Before a team can take a turn, everyone must be quiet. Points may be taken away for excessive talking or excessive celebrations! (Just call me the NFL.)

    You will have to use all your self-restraint to not unleash your inner Michael Jordan on your students!

    Some groups of students may need a little incentive to keep them engaged while their classmates are taking their turns. In this case, I have each student write down each word and definition as we go. In order for their team to win, each team member has to have an accountability sheet!
  • “The Board Game” – This vocabulary game is SO fun, but can get a little rowdy. I suggest setting clear behavioral expectations and enforcing them. Students are divided up into teams. One team member from each team comes to the whiteboard and finds a marker. When the entire class is silent, the teacher reads a vocabulary word’s definition. The students then race to write the word correctly on the board (in my class, they have to spell it correctly as well).

    When they think they have it correct, they must squat down so the teacher can see their answer. [Their answer is not considered submitted until they crouch down!] First person to spell it correctly and crouch down wins a point. If it’s close, I ask a student from a neutral team to help decide.
  • The Fly Swatter Vocabulary Game – For this game, you will need a projector and two fly swatters. Students are divided into two teams. The list of vocabulary words or definitions is projected on the board/screen. The teacher reads a word or definition and, using their fly swatter, students must point to the corresponding definition or word.

    The first one to point to the correct word or definition with their fly swatter wins!

    Similar to the other vocabulary games, students must be quiet before each turn and an accountability sheet is a great way to keep students engaged when they aren’t the active player.
  • Partner Matching Game – Ask students to write each vocabulary word on a 3×5 card (or half a card) and each definition on a card. Students play memory/concentration in pairs

    This is a great vocabulary activity when you want students to be active, but don’t feel like leading a whole-class vocabulary activity.

Vocabulary Games are a great way to make learning new words fun for your middle school students!

Daily Vocabulary Activities

Each week, I use these games to reinforce our weekly vocabulary words!

Vocabulary Bell Ringers for Middle School ELA

Click HERE to see my vocabulary lessons in action!

(Vocabulary Activities also come in 7th Grade editions & 8th Grade editions.)

Games are such a great way to have fun and build relationships with students which only increases student learning!

What games do you like to play? Let me know!

Until Next Time,

Brenna (Mrs. Nelson)