Throughout my 25 years as a high school English teacher I frequently used an amazingly simple—and highly effective—word game that never failed to engage my students, regardless of ability level. It became my go-to activity in the event I wanted to reward my students with something challenging, educationally appropriate, and fun.
One of the great things about this game is that it requires no prep time. You simply pick up a dictionary, select a volunteer to keep score, and begin. It’s a perfect time-filler if you’ve got a few minutes that you want to fill at the end of a class period, but on a special occasion, like the last day before a break or if the power goes out or some other unplanned chunk of time falls into your lap, this game will see you through in prime form: leading your class in a fun, educational, and friendly competition. You can reward the top scorer(s) with extra points or some other little prize, but even your most reluctant-to-engage students will find themselves getting involved—just for the fun of it. I found the last ten minutes of the period on Fridays (and you know why!) was the perfect time to ask, “Anyone want to play the dictionary game?”
Finally, teachers of ANY subject and ANY grade level can have a great time with this game. All he or she has to do is keep a dictionary handy and have a few minutes to share with his or her students. It could even be a regular component of a school-wide program, one that's designed to foster fun, engagement, community-building, and literacy.
Thanks for considering Tim's Tool Box!