Dinner party is a fun game that you can use to expand vocabulary. The game develops students’ word consciousness by having them explore the morphological patterns between words. Morphology, or teaching students to recognize the spelling-meaning connection of roots and affixes, has been proven to be enhance students’ vocabulary acquisition more effectively than using context clues alone.
Here is how you play Dinner Party.
First, create sets of cards with words that feature the target morpheme. For example, one set might focus on the root cand: candid, incandescent, candle, and candidate. Another set could have pend, pens words: pendant, pensive, appendage, and impending. Words Their Way is a great source, but you can also find many sets by just Googling “words with ______ root.” Make sure that you have at least one card for each of your students.
Here is a photo from one set I created for a recent game. It featured nat, which means “birth.”
Now that you have all of the cards, simply shuffle them all together. You will hand each of your students a card, and you will ask that they find “guests” who have similar cards to their own. Once students begin to find one another, they are to sit down for their “dinner party.” They will then discuss what their words have in common. This discussion should lead to students understanding the meaning of the root. In addition, they begin to see how the root has literal meanings in some words and figurative meanings in others.
One of the best aspects of Dinner Party is that it is inquiry-based. Students discover meaning by connecting the new words to words they already know. In addition, it provides students with opportunities to move, which can increase engagement. Dinner Party can be a short activity, or it can be expanded upon by reshuffling the cards and playing again or by students sharing and teaching their word groups to the class.