Tag Archives: vocab games

Resources for Designing Morphologically-Rich Lessons

This post contains resources for teachers to build morphologically-rich lessons, based upon an action research study I conducted while part of the Governor’s Teacher Network program. To learn more about the study, check out the slideshow below.

Select Your Goals

Please download the lesson plan template to get you started. Think about your goals for students. What standards will you meet? What will your learning targets be? For most of us, tracing word meanings and morphology will be found in the Vocabulary Acquisition and Use standard in the Language strand of the Common Core State Standards.

Choose a Text

Choose a text of your choice, or you can explore some of the adapted texts at these websites. They are free to use, but you will need to create an account.


Read Works

Kelly Gallagher’s Article of the Week

Select the Anchor Word(s)

Find one or two morphologically rich words necessary to understand the text.  You can use the Academic Word List or the Academic Word Finder from Achieve the Core to help you.

Determine the morpheme you would like to provide instruction on.  Here are some links to help you.

Words Their Way

Learn That Word

Scholastic – Most Common Prefixes and Suffixes

Reading First — Virginia DOE

Better Endings List

Instructional Strategies for Reading

Say Something


T-charts for collecting evidence

Text Coding

Chunking and Annotation


Create Games




Word Study Uno

Free Microsoft Office-Based Game Templates

The Vocab Games: Jeff Ertzberger’s PowerPoint Games

A great vocabulary game resource that I revisit is Jeff Ertzberger’s PowerPoint games site. Jeff Ertzberger serves as the Director of Technology for UNC-Wilmington’s Watson College of Education.  Ertzberger’s site also features game boards that he has created with Microsoft Word and Microsoft Excel.  It has visual timers too.  You should definitely check it out because you will be sure to find something you can use!

Here are some students favorites:

Big Wheel


Big Wheel features a wheel that the teacher or a student clicks to spin.  There are several point values on each wedge of the wheel (think Wheel of Fortune).  There is also a space on the screen to record points for up to eight teams.  It is easy for the teacher to say a definition or example, and then allow a team to come up with the correct vocabulary term. When correct, the wheel is spun for points.  There is one caveat. The wheel always chooses point values in the same order each time you play, so I suggest rapidly clicking several times to randomize the point values.

The Racing Games

car_racev2aThere are two racing games that Dr. Ertzberger has developed. One features a car race (Beach Rally), and the other is a horse race.  The teacher can divide the class into teams.  Each time a team responds correctly, the teacher can have their car/horse advance forward.  When the car or horse crosses the finish line, a team wins!

Sunken Treasure

sunkentreasurev2Many teachers say that Sunken Treasure is their students’ favorite game.  After student teams identify a term, they can choose a number between 1 and 36 on the game board grid.  Under one of the squares is the sunken treasure.  When it is found, the game ends. There are ten versions of boards to choose from, so the treasure can always be in a different spot.

Although many people may consider PowerPoint “old-school” technology, these games demonstrate innovative ways that PowerPoints can be designed to engage students.  Have you used PowerPoint in a particularly interesting way with students? Do you know of any other sites where PowerPoint Games can be found?  Please share resources and ideas in the comments.

The Vocab Games: Kahoot!


Imagine your students begging for more vocabulary review.  That is exactly what happens each time I use Kahoot! in the classroom.  If you are unaware of Kahoot, it is an interactive website that turns students’ devices (smartphones, laptops, tablets) into a student response system.  Questions and answer choices are displayed from your projector, and students are able to respond to the questions by using by tapping or clicking on one of the answers displayed on their device.

Check out this video to learn more about Kahoot! and what it looks like in the classroom.

It’s Easy to Use

Unlike many digital tools, students do NOT need to create a log-in to play Kahoot!  When the teacher launches a game, a “game pin” is displayed that enters students into the game.  In addition, creating questions for Kahoot! is fairly straightforward.  If you need help, this online guide can take you through the process step-by-step.  Also, if you want to see an example, this link will take you to a Kahoot! I created with a health science teacher.

Students LOVE It

Nearly every time I have used Kahoot! with students, they have begged to play it again.  What makes it so motivating? Well, there are few things.  In quiz mode, students gain points based on wether they answered correctly and at what speed they answered.  A leaderboard of the top five students is displayed after every question.  In addition, each student’s device informs him or her of which place he or she has after each question. Students also know immediately whether they choose the correct response, and if they didn’t, they lear the correct answer. This immediate feedback motivates students.  In addition, fun music and bright colors make the whole experience fun.  In quiz mode, you can set a timer for how long students all have to respond.  The music becomes increasingly suspenseful  as time begins to run out!

The photo below is me demonstrating a Kahoot! quiz in a world history class.



Not only does Kahoot! provide immediate feedback to students on what they now or don’t know yet, it collects the data for the teacher.  After each game, the teacher can click “Download Results.” Kahoot! then sends a spreadsheet to Microsoft Excel.  The spreadsheet contain each student’s response to each question.  What a great way to know what each student has learned!  In addition, it colors the corrects responses green and the incorrect ones red.  Large columns of red inform me that I need to reteach a word for the whole class.  I can also tell if most students choose the same incorrect response to uncover any student misconceptions that exist.

Kahoot! will engage your students!  To begin creating your own Kahoot!, go to getkahoot.com .

Have you used Kahoot!?  Have you experienced it as a player before? Please talk about your experiences in the comments section.

Word Study Uno has been a favorite for reinforcing word study for spelling or morphology (roots, prefixes, and suffixes) knowledge.  Word Study Uno is just one of many fun word study activities in the book Words Their Way by Bear, Invernizzi, Templeton, and Johnston.

In the traditional game of Uno, players match numbers or colors to the top card on an incrementally increasing stack.  Once a player lays down all of his or her cards, the game is over.  The first player to lie down all of his or her cards wins.  In addition, there are special cards that make players draw additional cards (Draw Twos), lose turns (Skips), and change the color of the cards to be matched (Wild Cards).


Instead of matching by color or number as in traditional Uno, students match cards by either spelling patterns or morphological structures in Word Study Uno.   Traditional special cards like Skips, Draw Twos, and Wild Cards are integrated into the game as well.

To introduce the game, I ask students if they have ever played Uno before to determine their prior knowledge of the game. I often ask students who have played before to share their understandings of the rules with those who haven’t, offering  clarifications as needed.

The example photos I am including are from a Word Study Uno game used with students who struggled with short and long a spelling patterns.  Some of the words are different from words the students had studied in order for me to assess whether they could transfer spelling pattern knowledge.

Short a CVC


Long a CVCe (Please forgive this one’s “sidewaysness.” I can’t seem to get it oriented correctly!)

Long a CVVC

Other Cards

Students enjoy playing the Word Study Uno game. During this particular game, I asked the students to say the words aloud when they laid them on the table. Students were tentative about this in the beginning. I repeatedly asked them to pronounce the words, and I modeled saying the words as I laid down my cards. Students’ confidence increased, since they began to see that they would be able to pronounce the words correctly based upon the spelling patterns. For instance, bath and bathe made students a bit nervous, but as we discussed that the silent e denoted a long a sound, they tackled other unknown words successfully.

The same process can be used for roots, prefixes, and suffixes as well.  However, one potential morpheme learning activity is building words with cards. My friend and colleague, high school literacy coach Kathy Bonyun (@kathybonyun), developed a game called OPA! (Greek and Latin roots, get it?)  Students must build words from their hands (a little like Scrabble), but they must also lay down prefixes, roots, and suffixes on previously built words to create new words.  The student who is the first to lay down all of his or her cards wins (sort of like Uno).  You can easily create your own hybrid game such as this, or you can pick up a set that Kathy created from her Teachers Pay Teacher site.


Are there card games that use to build students’ word knowledge?  What has worked for your students? What didn’t work?