Idea Gallery

Quiz, quiz, trade method

Students draw a picture of a word. They then have 30 seconds to teach their word to someone else who then teaches their word. Then they trade and have to teach the new word they learned to someone else. This keeps going on until all kids have seen and learned all words. Takes about 20 minutes for the entire class to learn the entire word list.  Phenomenal!  

Sandra King


My kids love playing "Stickman".  Stickman is the hero of many stories that require the use of WordMasters™ words.  For example, when reign was a word, Stickman's reign began.  The kids had to use WordMasters™ words to craft his (somewhat insane!) royal decrees.  He's also been a super hero, an intrepid explorer, etc.  

Heidi Lang

wordmasters™ apples to apples

A favorite is to play a version of Apples to Apples. The teacher holds up one card while teams of students search their stack of cards (complied throughout the year) for one that they defend as the best association to the teacher's word. The teacher awards a point to the team of each round that makes the best case.  

Brenda Stutzman

Searching the web for pictures

This year I had students search the internet for pictures that could represent their words. This seemed to really focus them in on the specific meanings of the words and how they could be used. They had to really think about what they were going to type in the search box- which often led to great synonyms.   

Nicole Sparks

One Team's Meet Preparation Process

Word Map: Students create a PowerPoint slide that visually depicts an assigned word. All design elements (word art, text boxes, slide design, etc.) should mirror the word’s connotation when possible. It should include the following: 1.) the word  2.) an image that represents the word  3.) part of speech and definition  4.) other forms  5.) synonyms and antonyms                                                                    Word Maps should be grouped logically and displayed on the classroom bulletin board. After students have taken the test, they should be laminated and displayed in the hallways.   

Super Sentences: The teacher composes a sentence that uses several words in context. For example, “The meticulous decorator berated her assistant for choosing two hues that were so incongruous. ‘How can you be so lax! Your negligence is unacceptable,’ her boss yelled.”   

Students should “translate” the sentence by putting it into their own words. While going over the “translation” as a class, students should make notes in their packets (for example, lax=negligent /=/ meticulous). Students also may compose their own super sentences and translate peers’ sentences.    

Super Story: Working with a partner or individually, students compose a super story using cumulative WordMasters words in context. They should try to use as many words as possible in context. They will score one another on word frequency and correct usage, story plot, and presentation. The highest scoring group will win a prize.   

Original Sentences: Students compose original sentences with clear context clues for each of the words.   

Word Pairs: Students identify and record synonyms, antonyms, and related words within the word lists.    

Word Matrix: Using all the WordMasters words from the year (on slips of paper), students work with their table groups to create logical categories that consist of 3 or more words. They should come up with preliminary titles for their categories, such as “Work Ethic” or “Money.”    

Word Categories: Working independently, students choose the five best categories, title them, and in a double-spaced word document, explain their categories.

For example:    Category #1: Stored Groups: Archives-reservoir-stronghold-array-contingent   

Archives and reservoir directly relate to storage because archives are stored records     whereas a reservoir is drinking water storage. A stronghold is more of a figurative place of storage. For example, "a Republican stronghold" is an area dominated by, or which "stores, a political ideal. Array and contigent both refer to groups that aren't necessarily stores, such as an array of hues or a contingent of voters.   

Review PowerPoint: Students create a 5-slide PowerPoint presentation on the vocabulary word for which they created their word map. They should save completed PowerPoints in their grade’s WordMasters file on the network. The slides should contain the following: 

1. Part of speech and definition                                                                                                                  2. Example sentence with CONTEXT CLUE and word omitted                                                                   3. An image representing the word                                                                                                             4. An analogy using the word; the word should be in the answer                                                               5. Synonyms and antonyms   

Review Game: Bingo or Jeopardy using slides from the students’ review powerpoints. The “fly swatter game” makes use of the word wall. 

Jeanette Lelchitski


Word hunt around school

I "hide" the words around our building and students find them and then report them to me using a definition, sentence or analogy.  Students who find all 25 words before the word meet earn a prize.

Kerin Motsinger

creating original analogies

Each group, of 4-5 students, makes colored cards (a different color for each challenge) for the WordMasters™ words and white cards for non-WordMasters™ words. They use these cards to create analogies manipulating the cards to make the best analogies.

With each new challenge we combine the colored words to make new analogies. They have to explain the relationship between the first pair of words in the analogy and then have to make sure the second pair matches in the same way. The cards are mixed up and another small group will try to solve the analogies that were created by the other group. 

Judy Corker

Dress like a word day

Each student is assigned a word and they have to "dress" like that word for the day.  Students take turns guessing the words and then each student presents his/her "outfit" and an explanation of how if relates to the word.  

Jennifer Haws

focus on Word connections

Grid Game: Using a 5x5 grid with all words randomly placed, students seek to connect adjacent pairs or compose analogies, which must be voted as valid by other teams. in teams 

"Categories": I post a heading such as "Friends and enemies" and they see how many words connect to this idea. I usually expect about 4-6 and they generally find good connections for 12 or more.   

Hand motions: They silently act out a meaning with "hand puppets" (their own empty hands). This leads to some connections as gestures are similar despite different contexts.

Number Line: For words with similar meanings, we make a greater/less than chart by plotting words on a  continuum. For example, Aloft, Bouyant, Burrow, Submerge, etc. placed relative to distance from ground level.

Kristin Baker

Post & Use the Word List in other classes

I post the list all over the school. Other teachers in school also then can use the words in their lessons, which in turn goes into ... giving students an extra credit point for each time they find a word in context. This is the BIGGEST one. I'm always so surprised at how excited they are to find a word!

Erin Auletta


My students love to play basketball.  I give each group of 3-4 students a set of word cards.  They spread them out and I read a definition.  They have to find the correct card and be standing with it by the time the definition is done.  If they are up, they get to shoot a little ball into a bucket.  They get one point for each shot.

Megan Ruff, Apple Valley, MN 


I created a Scattergory sheet for analogies.  The students get two minutes to complete the analogies.  They get one point for any valid pair, and an extra point for each WordMasters™ word they use:

Round 1: 
Increasing Intensity: ____________________________

Round 2:


Megan Ruff, Apple Valley, MN 


Create word chains using the words from your WordMasters™ lists.  Begin with any WordMasters™ word you wish, but do not use any word more than once.  See how long you can make your chain!  Remember, every word must be related to the one next to it.  It might be helpful to use your flashcards to organize your chain before you write your words.

Click here to download.


Susan Holcombe, Spartanburg, SC


Match each of the following WordMasters™ words with its synonym.  Use crayons or colored pencils to show your answers.  Each match must be a different color.

Click here to download.


Susan Holcombe, Spartanburg, SC


Using clip art, create a worksheet similar to the following:

Click here to download page 1 and here to download page 2.


Susan Holcombe, Spartanburg, SC


Look at the words in the middle of this maze.  Connect each WordMasters™ word to its synonym on the left and its antonym on the right.

Click here to download.


Susan Holcombe, Spartanburg, SC


Create a list of questions with fill-in answers.  Instruct students to try to think of an original answer that no one else will write.  Students earn one point for every answer they give that is the only one of its kind in the class.  The person with the most points will be THE LAST MAN STANDING.


Other than Tom Sawyer, name a famous urchin in literature or on television.

Name a reason your mother might beckon you.

Name a cartoon character that is spindly.

Name one way you can tell that a plant is thriving.


Susan Holcombe, Spartanburg, SC


Using index cards, create puzzle pieces with word/definition, word/synonym, word/antonym, or word/illustration.

Click here to download.


Susan Holcombe, Spartanburg, SC


Since the analogy tests for Meet 2 and Meet 3 use words from the current word list as well as previous WordMasters™ word lists (from the current school year), challenge your students to predict which words might be used in the same analogy and why (e.g. I predict the word PORTLY will go with the word MAMMOTH because they are increasing intensities).  Samples:


SKIPPER will go with ___________________ because ______________________________.

GAZE  will go with ____________________ because _______________________________.

DECADE will go with _____________________ because ____________________________.


Susan Holcombe, Spartanburg, SC


Use a word search tool from the internet to create a puzzle featuring the current WordMasters™ word list.  Instead of listing the words hidden in the puzzle, give clues that hint at the meaning or usage of the word.  Samples:


A kayak is ____________ because it floats on water. (BUOYANT)

Air conditioning was invented a ______________ ago, in 1911.  (CENTURY)

Thick vines have grown ____________ and twisted around the fence. (GNARLED)


Susan Holcombe, Spartanburg, SC


Students bring in stacks of magazines (outdoor, home, sports, gardening, travel).  Working in groups of two or three, they hunt for an illustration of each WordMasters™ word.  Pictures are mounted on 12”x 18” paper and labeled.  Later, the pages are bound in a book.


Marilyn Harned, El Cajon, CA


Over a period of several days, the class works at creating WordMasters™ pairs, focusing on synonyms, antonyms, related objects, etc.  We write the pairs on long strips of paper, trying to create a snake that will reach across the classroom.  This year our snake ended up 21 feet long!  Even our parents get involved, by counting pairs, measuring, bringing in thesauruses, etc.


Marilyn Harned, El Cajon, CA


Working in small groups, the children create a WordMasters™ story, in which each sentence contains at least one WordMasters™ word.  They highlight the WordMasters™ words with colored pencils, then illustrate the story. Finished stories are mounted on 22” x 28” tag and then bound into a giant book.


Marilyn Harned, El Cajon, CA


I challenge students to use as many WordMasters™ words as they can in a single sentence.  The sentences can be silly, but they have to make sense.  (Ex.: “The once massive, rotund behemoth became a svelte, sophisticated swindler and now walks with a cocky swagger.”)


Ada Getman, Hanover, MA


To earn extra credit, my students find ways to incorporate the exact sounds or letters of their WordMasters™ words into what we call “amusing sentences.”  The following are examples from my 7th and 8th graders:  “I will pacify study." (I will pass if I study) and “The placate starred in was a big hit." (The play Kate starred in was a big hit).  They earn two points for an exact fit and one for making a reasonable attempt.

 Nancy Marino, Palm Beach, FL


I put up a WordMasters™ Bonus Board and reward students for finding their vocabulary words in print and bringing in the proof.  Of the 25 words [on their 8th grade gold list recently], the students found all of the following:  qualm, missive, imbroglio, intrepid, uphold, ennui, disseminated, ambience, tawdry, fractious, bonanza, tether, unmitigated, dovetailed, equivocation.  Almost all were in The Philadelphia Inquirer.

Margaret Deardorff, Horsham, PA


Since memorization is not the best method of learning these new words, we brainstormed about ways in which the words could be learned more meaningfully.  The students made up their own games and wrote them on the computer.  The outcome was a booklet to be shared.  Many of the games were adaptations of games the students already knew, such as Pictionary, Password, Wheel of Fortune, Monopoly, Memory, Jeopardy, and Tic Tac Toe.  They even included “WordMasters™ Football" and "WordMasters™ Golf". Most of the games involved awarding points for correct definitions of words written either on a card drawn from a stack or on a game board—in other words, they were fun ways for students to review and internalize the meanings they had already learned.  Here is one student’s description of WordMasters™ Pictionary:

“First the player must draw a picture illustrating a WordMasters™ word without using words or letters.  He cannot mouth the word to anyone!  You have 30 seconds to guess the word he is drawing and then 20 seconds to think of the definition.  If you guess the word he is drawing, you get 2 points.  Then if you get the definition of the word, you get an additional 2 points.  The person with the most points at the end of the game wins.”

This is a game that can be played simultaneously by several pairs of students, or by the whole class together if it’s been divided into two teams.

                                                Shirley Keyser, Ramsey, New Jersey


One of my fourth-grade students made up several different games that we could play with WordMasters™ words.  In “Face-to-Face WordMasters™”, two persons sit face to face.  Person One says a WordMasters™ word.  Person Two responds with the definition, and if he’s correct is given a point.  They take turns until one of them has 10 points.  “Definition-Card  WordMasters™” requires three people—two standing side by side and a “flasher,” who holds up definition cards (which give the definition of a WordMasters™ word but not the word itself).  The first player to match five WordMasters™ words with their definition is the winner.

Ann McAlister, Hickory, NC


I write the 25 WordMasters™ words on 25 sheets of paper. Each student takes one, looks the word up in the dictionary, and fills out the sheet.  [In addition to the word itself, the sheet asks for its definition, an illustration, and a sentence showing how the word is used.]  I post the sheets all around the room, and we then use them to play Charades and guess-word games, to look for antonyms and synonyms, etc.  Before the WordMasters Challenge™, I put the sheets in a booklet, which I save so we can review for the next WordMasters Challenge™!

Amy Rasmussen, St. Cloud, MN


Here’s a version of Steal the Bacon:  First I assemble two sets of index cards, one labeled Set A and the other Set B.  (You could also use card sets of two different colors.)  I make a Set A and a Set B card for each WordMasters™ word.  The class is then divided into two teams, which stand against opposite walls.  I place a taped X midway between the two teams and place an eraser on the X.  I distribute the A flashcards to the children on one team, the B’s to the other team, so that each child is holding at least two cards.  As moderator, I then read aloud one definition of one of the WordMasters™ words (usually starting with a fairly obscure definition).  Any child who believes she is holding the card which matches that definition runs to pick up the eraser and tries to get back to her team’s line before being tagged by a member of the opposite team (who must believe he holds the matching WordMasters™ card).  If tagged, the runner must give up the eraser, and the tagger gets a chance to repeat the definition and display his card.  If he’s right his team gains a point.  If he’s wrong and the original runner can make a “save” with a correct match, then her team gains two points.  If the runner wasn’t tagged at all, her team gains one point if her match is correct but loses a point if she’s wrong.  The game continues until all team members have identified their words.

And here’s a version of Go Fish:  This also requires two sets of index cards—one set showing just the words, the other set just their definitions.  The sets are shuffled together and then dealt so that each child who is playing gets 3-5 cards.  Extras are piled in the center.  Play proceeds this way:

            “Samuel, do you have the meaning for the word abandon?

            “No, go fish.”

            “Josh, do you have the word that  means an arid area of land?

            Josh hands over the “desert” card as the word and its meaning are read aloud.

D. Schaer, Passaic, NJ


My students love the game we have made up. I divide the class in half and they stay seated. One student from each team is the scorekeeper at the board. I take a volunteer from each team to start and then go clockwise around each table. I call out one definition and the first of the two students to get the right word gets the point for their team. They get three tries each. The innovation is that each team is allowed to help their person. They do need to whisper or else the other team may hear it first. The first time or two, we just use a half-dozen or so words at a time and keep adding more. They are allowed to use their definitions. Later, when they are more conversant, they will only have the word list on the wall to check.

Chris Marie Brown, Dinuba, CA


Suddenly there’s a love affair with words in my classroom!

– 6th grade teacher from Florida

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