How to Turn Vocab Words into a Board Game for ELLs

Turn Vocab Words Into a Board Game for Your ELLs

Duration: 5-10 minutes

Type: Partners

What you will need:

  • Vocab Board Game Template – Download Below! Or Have Students Design Their Own
  • Dice or Spinner
  • Playing Pieces – Beans, Meeples, Little Plastic Animals
ESL Vocabulary Activity Board Game Template Pic (small)

ESL Vocabulary Board Game Template (See Below)

Overview of ESL Vocabulary Board Game

In groups of 2-3, students take turns rolling the die and moving their playing piece around the game board. They need to say each vocabulary word as they go and make a sentence with the final word they land on. If they forget a word, they stop on that space and play goes to the other player.

How to Play the ESL Vocab Board Game

  1. Students draw pictures for their vocabulary words in the boxes or write the first and last letters with little lines for the letters in between (i.e. v _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ y)
  2. Put students in groups of 2-3 students.
  3. This game is great for after students have become familiar with the words for a unit.
  4. Students decide who will go first using the die or playing Paper, Scissors, Stone.
  5. Students take turns rolling the die and moving their playing piece along the squares.
  6. The student says the vocabulary words for each picture. On the final word, the student has to make a sentence.
  7. If a student forgets a word, they have to stop there and say the word 5x and play goes to the other student. 
  8. You can define what each roll of the die means: 1 = Go one space; 2 = Get up and do two jumping jacks; 3 = Go three spaces; 4 = Go four spaces; 5 = Go back one space; 6 = Get up and do six jumping jacks.

Benefits of the Vocabulary Board Game

  • Working in small groups means each student gets to say the words or sentences many times. Students aren’t waiting around long for their turn. 
  • The teacher is freed up to go around and work with individual students who might need help.
  • Adding in some get-out-of-your-seat and move activities for certain dice rolls means students are getting their blood flowing which helps keep the energy up.
  • Students become more fluent with the words, having recalled them from memory so many times.

Have you tried this activity? How did it go? Leave your comments below!

4 thoughts on “How to Turn Vocab Words into a Board Game for ELLs”

    1. I’m so glad I found this site. Your games are so fun and I’m going to try them on my students once lockdown has been lifted.

      1. Thanks for the note Belinda and your kind words. I’m really happy to hear you’re finding the site useful!

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