Sunday, April 12, 2009

Vocabulary BINGO

This was another fabulous idea I got from another teacher (thank you Ms. Larson!) and tweaked. In the middle school last year I was SHOCKED at the amount of new vocabulary students had to learn in the sixth grade (I am equally shocked at the limited amount of new vocabulary fourth graders have to learn in comparison...oh well). To help students remember the vocabulary word and its definition we played BINGO, usually within the last 10 minutes of class if we had extra time or more often the closer we were to a big test or state exam.
Here is how it works. Put together a list of 24 vocabulary words for a unit. I was struggling to find 24 words in one unit and pulled words from another unit we had done to round it out. For the notebook, I put the words in Microsoft Publisher "catalog format" and gave it a cover so I could fold and glue into the book (see next to last and last picture). I then made a BINGO board in word (using their "table" format) making sure to have a free space in the middle. I had my homeroom students fold and glue the vocabulary list in the notebooks and had other homeroom students cut out and glue the bingo boards into the book.
In the second picture you will see that I did not have the vocabulary list next to the BINGO boards. Those were my middle school books and the point was to get them to not depend on the vocabulary list and to be able to recognize the word based on the definition. That is still the point in the elementary school but I am introducing them so late that I decided to glue the word list in (I really should have introduced vocabulary BINGO sooner...sigh!).
You will need to model the next step, which is to put the words in random order in different blocks on their BINGO board. They should not copy their friends layout. Each layout of words should be different. I usually do the first five with them and then leave them to do the rest (tell them to put a check mark by the words they have already put down or they tend to forget and you waste valuable time trying to find their error). I liked that one of my students put a picture by the word (see next to last picture). I don't require it but I think next year I might. It would certainly help my visual learners.
To play you pick a BINGO layout that the students have to get in order to win (any five across or down, four corners, capital L, capital T, etc.). You read the definition twice - slowly - and they have to find the word match. This is slow going at first so please don't get discouraged because they do pick up speed. Eventually they will know the word without having to refer to the provided vocabulary list. In the beginning I let them help each other out but the expectation is that once they catch on they are to try and find the word on their own.
I use cut up squares of color paper in baggies as the BINGO markers (again nothing fancy). I used to have a lot of trouble in the middle school with students blowing the bag up and popping them until I gave out starbursts to any student who returned my supplies intact when I went around the room and collected them. This isn't so much a problem in elementary school but I thought I would mention how I handled that problem last year. I keep all my supplies, including my master list, in a printer box top (see top picture).
As I read off the definition I check off which ones I have read so that once someone yells BINGO I can verify their win. ALWAYS tell studnets NOT to clear off their board if someone yells BINGO - they may have made a mistake or I might continue play on the same game if time is running out.
STRATEGIES - Sometimes I have to speed up the game and I will walk around and see who is close and purposely call a word I know will end the game quickly. I differentiate units with different color boards - see second picture. This helps particularily during end of year testing review when you might be playing different games each day - you can tell students to go to their orange BINGO card or blue BINGO card.


Alicia and Jose Luis said...

Eve, this website is so great! I imagine teachers love it but its also great for ideas to use at home.

Live and Learn said...

Thank you- there is never enough "vocabulary practice" time! I love that the bingo cards are actually IN their notebooks so you can use them any time you have a few odd minutes at the end of class!

Jane Hake

Adrienne said...


I want to start by THANKING YOU for putting together this great blog! I am a second year middle school science teacher, and I use foldables all the time but I've been wanting to incorporate science notebooks into my classroom. I've done a lot of reading about them but it is SO helpful to see the pictures of how a REAL teacher is making it work in the classroom.

The only thing I am still unsure about is the grading of the notebooks. Do you grade each lab activity or page separately? Do you do a grade for each week with all the activities weighed together? Is there a separate lab grade and notebook grade? Maybe you could go into this in a future post - I know I would find it really helpful!

Thanks again for taking the time out of your crazy teacher schedule to make this awesome blog-it is such a big help especially for newer teachers like me :)

Marla Teal said...

I have another BINGO game that I have used with my Energy Transfers unit. You have a bingo board w/different energy transfers--heat to light, mechanical to sound, electricity to light, etc. Then you call out different activities. For example, turning on a light switch, turning on the TV, riding a bike. Some of the transfers can be three long. The board could go on the right and you could have the different types of energy with there definition on the left. Just another idea I thought I could share.

Mrs. G said...

What great ideas you have. I found your blog by googling "clock partners." I've ended up reading everything and have gotten TONS of ideas for my middle school math class. I've been wanting to try notebooks and now, I have a better idea of what I'm going to include. Thank you!

Eve Heaton said...

Marla - I love the transfer of energy idea! Thank you for sharing.


Joni G said...

I love this idea and we are almost at the end of our organisms and their environments unit in our 4th grade class. I am going to add a bingo activity before Christmas as a review of the vocabulary. your site is awesome. I started notebooking last year and use it in science and social studies. I wish I had known you were going to be at Myrtle Beach. I teach in Horry County and am only 20 minutes from Myrtle Beach. That would have been a great conference!

Carla said...

Thanks for sharing. I've used bingo with my students as a note-taking format during a lecture. They are given a large sheet of construction paper which they fold in half twice length-wise and width-wise, making 16 squares. I have them place a term in each square at either the top or bottom and highlight it.

While I am giving my lecture and showing demos as I mention a term, like "heat", I will define it and give additional information which they have to write on their bingo board in the square labeled "heat" and place their chip on that square. We play straight bingo to start and when a student calls "bingo" they have to read the word and their notes from each square. When bingo is confirmed all students clear their board pieces.

Once information is written about a term into a square, they only have to hear me say that term again in order to mark it for the next rounds. We vary the game play to 4-corners, X, ect.