Teaching vocabulary is essential, but it can easily be boring. Liven up the classroom by incorporating games and activities into lessons and getting children involved. By giving life to vocabulary words, retention and overall understanding are increased, turning words on a page into reality.

Vocabulary Jeopardy

Put categories on a bulletin board for students to choose from.
Put categories on a bulletin board for students to choose from.

Turn definitions into a competition. Arrange the class into teams; if you have a small class, students can play individually. Put multiple categories on a bulletin board in a grid formation. Use categories such as nouns, verbs and adjectives on the board for students to choose from. If the class is more mature, use advanced categories like five-letter words, positive prefixes, homonyms, antonyms and action verbs. List four or five topics beneath the chosen categories and put a card face down with a question in reference to the topic. Assign a point value to the question, and let students pick a category and question. If the team correctly answers the question, it gets the points and continues to play; if it answers incorrectly, the opposing team gets an opportunity to answer.

Last Man Standing

Ask students to define a vocabulary word.
Ask students to define a vocabulary word.

Have all students stand and face the front of the classroom. If a child is unable to stand, have him raise his hand to represent his participation. Walk around the classroom and select a student. Ask her a question about a vocabulary word. Say the word and ask for its definition, form an incomplete sentence and ask for the missing word or create a situation that fits the meaning of the word. If she answers correctly, she remains standing. If she answers incorrectly, she must sit. The winner is the last person standing in the room.

Act Out

Have students mime the word to the class.
Have students mime the word to the class.

Group students into two teams. Give one student a note card with a word and its definition written out. Have the student mime the word to the class. Give his team three opportunities to guess the word; this prevents students from shouting out every vocabulary word available. If the team doesn't get it right, let the opposite team try to answer. Award points to the winning team. Select the next student to mime, or let the student who answered correctly act out the next word.

Bingo

Write vocabulary words of bits of paper and draw them from a cup.
Write vocabulary words of bits of paper and draw them from a cup.

Select 10 vocabulary words and write them on the chalkboard. Pass out sheets with the definitions of each word placed in a grid pattern. Draw pieces of paper from a cup and call out the word chosen. Have students write the corresponding word by the definition on their sheets. If a student makes a straight line in any way, have her yell "Bingo!" Let the student say the words used to make a line. If correct, she wins. If incorrect, the game continues until someone makes a complete line.