Vocabulary Pyramid

25 teachers like this lesson
Print Lesson


SWBAT provide the definition for vocabulary words.

Big Idea

A competitive vocabulary activity that helps students make meaning out of new words!

The Strategy

35 minutes

This vocabulary strategy works well for helping students to become familiar with new vocabulary words and can be used in any content area.  

Each student will need a partner.   They will sit facing each other with one person facing the board and the other person with his or her back to it.  

On the board you will list some of your vocabulary words.  I usually do half for one partner and half for the other (7 or 8 per person).  The partner who is facing the board will give clues as to the meaning of the vocabulary word.  The partner with his back to board will then guess the word that is being described.  They will move down the list until all of the words have been guessed.   I try to make it competitive, and have the first team finished stand up.  When most have finished, the partners will switch places and roles.  I will put a new list of 7 or 8 words up and they will play again.  

This strategy is active, fun, and fast paced.  It allows the students to talk and verbally process the information they already know about the words.  If the words are relatively new, I might let the students use cheat sheets at first.  

This activity does get loud, and I always remind students that if they are shouting out clues, other teams may hear them!  


In Action

10 minutes

Here is this game in action, and what happens if a partner cheats!  Yikes!


I usually allow my students to use their vocabulary packet or definitions if needed.  The point is to help them learn their words, and if they need a study aid for awhile, I am fine with it.  

Wrap it Up

10 minutes

After this active time, I like to have students process their learning individually as well.  I will ask them to pick a word that they really had trouble with today and write it on a card.  On the other side, I will ask them to write several clues they could use to help someone guess the meaning.  Then, they will pass the card to a partner, showing only the clue.  The partner will guess at the meaning, and confirm it by flipping the card over.  This process will continue all around their table groups until everyone has seen everyone else's card at that group.  I will then, collect the cards and leave them out for students to use as a study aid.  Voila!  Instant flash cards.  : )

I think that it is important for students to use their vocabulary words many times in many different ways before it becomes part of their regular use.  They must read the word, write the word and speak the word.  Between the pyramid and the note cards, they have accomplished all three and probably had fun doing it.