Vocabulary Games!

Find out how playing vocabulary games can lead to better scores and more engaged students!

Keep reading to find out how playing vocabulary games can help your students improve their scores while also increasing their engagement in class!

I think we can all agree teaching vocabulary is very important. We all knew it before brain research became commonplace, but the research is in, and it has confirmed what we have always thought – Dr. Marzano says it’s crucial (CLICK HERE for more Marzano blogposts), and Hattie says vocabulary programs have an effect size of 0.67.

With these ideas in mind, I try to keep content area vocabulary front and center in my daily instruction. Keeping it fresh can be a struggle, so that’s where I use games. Some of them I’m going to share below are designed to be used with my vocabulary cards (CLICK HERE to see what vocab cards I have available), and some can be used in an ad hoc way. 


  • MEMORY – Students lay out the word and definition or word and picture or picture and definition cards face down on the table and take turns trying to find matches. If they find a match, they get to go again, and players rotate turns until all the matches have been found.
  • VOCABO – This one is one of my favorites! It kind of works like Uno, and is great for helping your students develop connections between different vocabulary words. 
  • GO FISH – This game works like normal Go Fish except that it also helps your students build connections between the words, and their definitions and images.
  • CLICK HERE for a free resource with more complete directions for these three games.
  • BINGO – I have my students make a 5×5 grid on notebook paper, and then have them fill it in with any vocabulary words we’ve had (this game usually has to wait until later in the year so that we have at least 25 vocabulary words to choose from) which I project on the board. Once their boards are full, I use a random selector (CLICK HERE for a great one that I use all the time) to select words. But here’s the trick – I don’t read out the words. I call out the definitions to the words, and they have to remember which word goes with which definition before they can cross it off their board. Scoring and winners works like traditional BINGO.
  • WORD RACES – This is a great one for slush time at the end of a class. I simply project the words, have two students stand with their backs to the board, and say a definition, then go. The first person to touch the correct word wins, and the winner gets to stay in until they lose!
All of these games are great and likely to get you the results you want – engaged students and improved vocabulary scores!


  • “This was a great resource. It helped me tremendously with the diverse group of learners I have.” – Jenepher W. 5-stars!
Find out how playing vocabulary games can improve scores and get students more engaged in your class!