Tag Archives: vocal games

The Vocab Games: Flyswatter

All you need to play this fun game is two flyswatters, a whiteboard, whiteboard markers, and a vocabulary list.  I first observed this game in a colleague’s Spanish class, and it remains a favorite for world language teachers.  However, excitement about it has spread, and I now know science and CTE teachers who also regularly play it.


The game is simple.

Write a series of words that your class has been studying on different spots on your whiteboard.  If you have a BenQ , Smartboard, or projector you could also project them from a computer file (such as PowerPoint or Word).

Divide your class into two large teams. Have one representative from each team come to the front with a flyswatter.

Provide an example, definition, or clue for one of the vocabulary words.  Once students determine the word, they slap it with the flyswatter. Whoever’s flyswatter lands on the word first scores a point for his or her team.  The defeated player leaves, and the “winner” selects a new challenger from the opposing team.

This routine goes on until all words have been discussed or until a pre-designated score has been reached.

This is a video of Flyswatter that a teacher has posted on YouTube. 

At first, I thought that many students would not been engaged during this game, since only two players are doing the actual swatting. However, I’ve noticed that students really enjoy watching their peers play, seeing whether or not they know the words, and anticipating of when they might be called and what word they will be asked to determine.

I have only used a Flyswatter a couple of times, but, as I said, many of my colleagues love it.  Have you used Flyswatter before? Would you do it again? What do you do differently from what I described in this post? Please share your expertise in the comments.

The Vocab Games: Dinner Party

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:  candidincandescentcandle, and candidate.  Another set could have pend, pens words:  pendantpensive, appendage, and impendingWords 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.