Fun Game to Learn and Practice High Level or ESL Vocabulary Words in the Classroom—Shabooinary
Games for Learning Vocabulary
Learning and Practicing Vocabulary Words: The Birth of Shabooinary
As a Language Arts teacher, it was in my curriculum to teach high frequency college level vocabulary words to my students. I had books, worksheets and other materials, but it was never quite fun enough for the students. They rather stare at a wall than try to learn and use these words.
After one vocabulary lesson, I asked my students if they’d like to play a game using the words. This of course piqued their interest and they decided to go for it.
I had to wing it, because I actually didn’t exactly know what I was going to do for a game. I have played many vocabulary games as a student myself, but none of them stood out to me as ‘fun’ and educational at the same time. I decided to use the premise of three different games to keep it interesting: Charades, Taboo and Pictionary. All three required the knowledge of words and their definitions, so they seemed perfect to mix, plus there was the added bonus of using other senses to learn the words.
That day we played a very rudimentary version of each kind of game using that week’s vocabulary list, but the students were thrilled anyway. Participation was at its max since they were getting so into the competition of the games.
The next day, a student approached me and said she had been thinking the night before of the games we played (which I thought was awesome!) and came up with a name for it: Shabooinary. The ‘sh’ stood for charades, the ‘aboo’ was for Taboo, and the ‘inary’ came from Pictionary. I thought it was brilliant! Hence, the vocabulary game Shabooinary was born.
Items Needed for the Vocabulary Game Shabooinary
- Draw erase or chalk board
- Dry erase markers or chalk
- List of vocabulary words and definitions
Learning Vocabulary: The Basics of the Vocabulary Game Shabooinary
In the years that I played this game with my students, I have made additions and improvements to the game, which make it all the more appealing. Prior to each unit, I prepared a new set of cards for each word in the unit. I added a few more categories, so in total there were six total:
·Don’t Say It
For Act It cards, students had 5 seconds to look at the word, think about what they would do, and then act out the meaning of the word, just like they would in charades. For Don’t Say It cards, students would see the answer word and then a list of words that are close to the word or its meaning. They need to get their team to guess the answer word without saying any of the other words. For Draw It cards, students again had 5 seconds to look at the word, decide what they would draw, and then draw pictures depicting the meaning of the word, just like Pictionary. For Ti Lleps cards, which is ‘spell it’ backwards, students would be given a word, and each team member would take turns saying a letter of the word spelled backwards. Use It cards were for sentence practice: students had to use the word as a certain part of speech (noun, verb, adverb, adjective, depending on the word) and give a sentence of at least ten words. Antonym and Synonym cards had similar functions: the student would be given an antonym or synonym of a word and they have to figure out the word.
To make the cards, I used blank notecards and a light colored pen (too dark and the sneaky students can see through the cards!). Using my school issued vocabulary book, I created at least four cards for each of the categories with the words for that particular week. In the beginning, I only had about 20-30 cards, but for each subsequent week,I would add the cards that went with the new unit. Due to that, students were more likely to retain the words and their meanings since they were repeated every week.
Would You Shaboo?
Would you play this game in your classroom?
Quick Reference Directions for Vocabulary Game Shabooinary
Directions for Students
Read the word on the card silently. Draw a picture on the board that symbolizes the meaning of the word. No speaking or gesturing.
Read the word on the card silently. Act out the meaning of the word. No noises or air spelling of words.
Don't Say It
Read the word on the card silently. Read the words beneath the word as well. Without saying any of the words on the card, give hints to your teammates to help them guess the correct word.
A word will be given to you by the teacher. Each teammate must take a turn spelling the word backwards, one letter at a time. No helping.
A word will be given to you by the teacher. Use the word in a sentence with a context clue showing that you understand the meaning.
A word will be given to you by the teacher. You must provide the synonym of that word.
A word will be given to you by the teacher. You must provide the antonym of that word.
How to Play the Vocabulary Game Shabooinary
1.Divide your class into groups of at least four students per group (I had at least five in my groups since I had thirty or more students). Explain that each member of the group has to take a turn picking a card and completing an activity. While a group is playing their turn, all other groups are quiet.
2. One member stands, chooses a card from the deck, reads it, and hands it back to the teacher (unless it is a Don’t Say It card). Standing in front of the classroom, they must get their team to guess the correct word before one minute is up.
3. If the team does not say the correct answer in the allotted time, the next team gets a chance to play the same card as a bonus chance. This repeats until an answer is found. It is helpful because students, if confused, can see different perspectives from the other teams and use that to remember the meaning of the word.
Scoring for the Vocabulary Game Shabooinary
I used an old Wheel of Fortune home edition spinner for the points. I even incorporated the ‘free spin’, ‘lose a turn’ and ‘bankrupt’ options, making the game more interesting. The kids loved it, especially since ‘free spin’ was used as a multiplier for points.
If such a spinner is not available, point values could be preset. For example, in round one, each card could be worth five points. In round two, each card could be worth ten points, so on and so forth.
Things to Consider When Playing the Vocabulary Game Shabooinary
- Each team must decide on a single answer before saying it. This prevents five students yelling different answers all at the same time.
- If a team is loud during another team’s turn, they forfeit either some of their points or their next turn.
- Consider giving an incentive. I offered five bonus points on the quiz for the winning team.
- Don’t accept random guesses. The students won’t learn anything that way.
- Use the game itself as an incentive. I would write "Will you Shaboo?" on my board so my classes knew that I expected them to exhibit proper classroom behavior or we wouldn't play the game.
© LearnFromMe 2011