Parts of Speech Sort
Reinforce grammar skills with a parts of speech sorting activity. Students sort each word from the wall according to its part of speech. If students are still learning the different parts of speech, you can provide them with a dictionary to check their work. This is a great activity for reviewing the use and function of the eight parts of speech.
Hosting a classroom spelling bee is another activity that will reinforce the correct spelling of each word on the word wall. Splitting the class into teams and making it a friendly competition will increase engagement and participation. If students are not comfortable speaking in front of the class, or if you don’t want to put students on the spot, you can transform the spelling bee into an oral spelling test.
The essence of this game is for students to guess the word based on a series of verbal clues. In order to teach students how to play, start off by giving them clues and let them be the mind readers. After students have a clear understanding of the game, they can play on their own in pairs or teams. Sticking to a set number of clues for each word adds urgency and avoids boredom.
Keep it simple, and require students to use each word in a sentence. Placing the words in context creates relevance and cements meaning, making it an ideal practice activity for learning new words.
The open-ended and creative nature of the matchmaking activity makes it a favorite for students. Essentially, there is never a wrong answer. Working in pairs, students make authentic connections between two words from the word wall. Building associations between words reinforces meaning and gives students a chance to work with each word in a low-stakes environment. You can assign word combinations or let students choose on their own.
Students create a set of flashcards for all the words on the word wall. The physical act of writing out each word and its definition will reinforce understanding and recognition. Plus, the flashcards can be used as a future study aid.
Similar to sentence writing, the fill-in-the-blank activity requires students to place each word in context. Write a sentence that includes each word from the wall, but insert a blank space where the word should be. It is the job of the students to figure out which word goes with each sentence. This activity is extremely versatile. You can create a worksheet of fill-in-the-blank sentences, or write the sentences on the board. Identifying the words in context, rather than in isolation, is important because it provides students with a strong frame of reference for understanding and integration.
Synonyms and Antonyms
Finding synonyms and antonyms is a common activity for learning new words. Extend the activity with a lesson on word choice, connotation, or shades of meaning.
Pick one word from the word wall, but don’t reveal which one. In order to guess the word, students are permitted to ask twenty yes or no questions. Based on answers to the yes or no questions, students try to determine the correct word. After learning how to play, you can break the class into pairs to play on their own.
Most students enjoy completing a word search. Throw in a highlighter, and it’s even more fun. You can create your own word search puzzle, or use an online word search generator. I prefer to use the word search generator from A to Z Teacher Tools because it gives the option for including only forward facing words.
Make learning fun with a game of vocabulary charades. First, place students into teams. Next, call on a volunteer to act out the word from the list of word wall words. Teams can only shout out three guesses. The team that guesses correctly, earns a point. Game play continues in this fashion until all words have been played, or time runs out.
Hangman can be played as a class or in pairs. In order to make the game more challenging, cover up the word wall during game play. If your students are not familiar with how to play hangman, click here to show them a short explainer video.
Another students favorite, flyswatter splat reinforces word meaning with engaging game play. First, list (or project) all words from the word wall on the board. Next, split students into two teams, and select a student from each team to be the first “splatter”. “Splatters” stand next to the list of words on the board. The game begins when you read a definition of one of the word wall words. The first student to “splat” the correct word with the fly swatter earns a point for their team. Game play continues until all definitions have been read.
In order to complete this poetry activity with your students, assign a word from the word wall to each student. Have students write the word vertically on a piece of paper. Each letter of the word will start a line to their poem. The poem must be reflective of the word’s meaning. Lines can be made up of single words or phrases, and rhyming is not necessary.
Students match each word with its correct definition. Depending on existing knowledge of the words, students may need to use a dictionary to check their work.
Around the World
Around the World is another game that gets students up and out of their seats. A detailed explanation of the game can be found here. You can read the definition and require students to guess the word or vice versa.
120 Root Words, Prefixes, and Suffixes Word Wall with Flashcards
Completing a traditional crossword puzzle will give students an opportunity to learn the definitions of each word. If you want to take more of a hands-on learning approach, you can let students manipulate the word wall words into their own crossword puzzle using letter tiles or letter cards. While this version doesn’t necessarily reinforce the definition of each word, connecting and arranging the words will reinforce spelling.
When it is clear that students have a solid grasp of all the word wall words, give them the opportunity to add more words. Adding relevant words moves students from the basic levels of cognition to the more advanced levels of critical thinking.