Vocabulary is an essential component of knowledge for high school because of its direct connection to reading and writing. As students prepare for their college-entrance exams, vocabulary becomes even more important to their futures. There are many fun and exciting ways to get your students more engaged in their vocabulary review. Keep in mind that different students learn differently and while a sports-themed game might work well for some, sitting down to quietly list the words might be better for another.

Vocabulary Baseball

Divide your classroom into two teams and draw a baseball diamond on your blackboard. Each team has three outs per inning (like regular baseball) and one player from each team goes at a time. You say a word, and the student has 20 seconds to define it. If he defines it in five seconds, the team gets a home run; within 10 seconds, it’s a triple; within 15 seconds, it’s a double; and just before the time limit, it's a single. If the student does not get the definition right, he's out. Draw an icon for a base runner when a student gets a hit. When a player gets to home plate the team scores a run. The team with the most runs at the end of nine innings wins the game.

Illustrated Vocabulary

Many students find creating vocabulary flash cards boring. One of the reasons is that the activity isn’t very creative. Add to the creativity by having students create illustrated vocabulary flash cards. Have them write the word on one side of the card. On the other, they can create a picture that the word represents for them, plus the definition and other related words. By letting the students draw and connecting the word’s meaning to themselves, educator Eileen Simmons found that the students who stuck with it were extremely successful in understanding their vocabulary.

Hot Seat

Have one student sit in the front of the classroom on a chair facing away from the blackboard. On the board you will write a vocabulary word but the person in the front of the room is not allowed to look at it. The student will ask yes or no questions to his classmates to determine what the word might be. The student has 10 questions available until he must guess what the word is. You can make this an individual contest or you can have the class separated into several teams to add a competitive element.

Vocabulary Toss

This game requires a chalkboard eraser, or small sponge, and a wastebasket. Divide your class into two teams and have them stand in two single-file lines parallel to each other. This game combines a vocabulary guessing game with a basketball shooting game. Ask the player at the front of one team to define a vocabulary word. If he gets it right, his team gets a point and he has a chance to earn a second point if he makes the eraser into the basket. If he gets the word wrong, the player on the other team has a chance to answer it and shoot the basket. Keep rotating players until everybody gets at least one turn. The team with the most points at the end wins.