Once kids get the idea that many words have two or more completely different meanings, they can begin to use this knowledge to increase their vocabulary. Playing a game with multiple meaning words is a great way to do this. A team challenge game not only provides students with exposure to lots of different multiple meaning words; it also helps them to practice their fluency as they attempt to quickly come up with multiple meanings to beat their opponent.
Team challenge games are fun to play, easy to set up, and require only minimal preparation. They’re great for a time when kids are either reviewing or putting to use some new knowledge. To prepare for a team challenge game, all you need is a set of questions or vocabulary words that are based on content that the kids have already studied. I’m using multiple meaning words for my example here.
OK, so first you’ll need a nice long list of multiple meaning words. You could collect words from vocabulary activities that you’ve already done with the class, and add to it as necessary. I’ve included a two-page list with my Multiple Meaning Word activity sheet set if you are interested.
To set up, divide the class into two or more teams. Either cut the words apart and put them all in a bowl, or just cut the list into two (or more) sections and give one section of the list to each team.
To play, one players draws a word, or chooses one from their list, to challenge the other team. One player on the other team must answer by giving two different meanings of the word. Kids on each team can take turns presenting the challenge and answering, but I would let teammates help with the answers. Then a player on the second team challenges the first team with a new word, and so on until you run out of time.
The simplest way to keep score is to just give one point for a right answer. To make more of a game of it, you could include minus points for wrong answers. You could also allow the answering team to throw the challenge back to the first team, maybe for half as many points.
Just a note or two – you might want to have a little discussion first about what kind of “multiple meanings” will be allowed. For example, these two definitions of the word “fly” might be too close to count: 1) to fly a plane, 2) to fly a kite. These two would definitely be fine: 1) to fly a plane, 2) a bug (fly) on the wall. Also, some of the kids “definitions” will probably sound more like examples than definitions – like mine did in the previous sentence. Personally, I would just accept these answers in the interest of covering more ground, but of course it depends on your class.
To add an additional element to the game, you could also have each team come up with their own list of multiple meaning words. Do this in advance, so you can check the lists, and add additional words as necessary.
Here is an image of one of the two pages of multiple meaning words in my activity sheet set. As you can see the words are spaced out so that they are ready to cut apart.
Of course, you could play this game with most any topic that has enough material for a good list of words or questions.
At the end of a semester, I sometimes liked to have a tournament of challenges that incorporated a short game each day for a period of a week or two. Any types of games where you can use the same teams and award team points would work for a tournament. You can play the same game each day, or a different game each day, as long as the teams stay the same. Post a tournament chart in the classroom and keep a running total, so teams can check on their standing each day. Previously, I wrote a blog post about these team challenges with a classroom chart that you can download for free. You can see the link below, along with links to my newest multiple meaning word resources.
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