Middle-school students have a lot of energy. Therefore, getting them out of their seats, particularly in subjects like language arts, is key to engaging students and reinforcing key concepts. Playing games in the middle-school language arts classroom can help students find fun while reading and writing.

Quiz Games

Create a PowerPoint version of a quiz game such as Jeopardy or Who Wants to Be a Millionaire. Teachers can take key terms or information from recently read novels and create the quiz game to help students prepare for a test. These games can also be used with elements of grammar and syntax, giving students a new way to brush up on their use of language conventions.

Sentence Relay

Fill a plastic container with paper strips which contain sentences that incorrectly use whatever grammar concept the students are currently studying. Divide students into two teams. Set a timer for 15 minutes. When the timer starts, ask members of each team to come up to the dry erase board one at a time (one member from each team will be at the board at the same time), draw a sentence from the container, and write it correctly on the board. Once they correctly fix the sentence, the next team member will come up. The team to correct the most sentences in the 15 minutes wins the game.

Who Am I?

To help students understand characters, have students read a short story or novel that contains many characters. Place the name of each character on an index card. Tape an index card with a name on it to each student's back. Students must go around the room and ask "yes" or "no" questions of other students to determine the identity of their character. Give a prize to the first five students to correctly identify their character. This works especially well with a text such as Romeo and Juliet because the characters are important to the play.

Create a Story

Have students write class stories. Each student will write a beginning line on a piece of notebook paper, then pass it to the person sitting next to him or her who will add the next line. Continue until all students have contributed to everyone's story. Instead of a story, students could also use this strategy to create a class poem.


When you introduce new vocabulary words to students, play a game of Balderdash. Present a word to the class and have each student come up with a definition for that word. Combine their definitions with the actual definition and have the class vote on which definition they think is correct.

Once students have voted, reveal the correct definition and award a point to the student who received the most votes. Continue the game with more words.

The Key Letter

Have a student pull a key letter from a unit out of a hat. Set a timer for one minute and have students come up with as many words or phrases from that unit that begin with that letter. This is a great review game.