Search form

Back to Word Wall Lesson Plan

Hot Seat


  • Arts & Humanities
    --Language Arts


  • PreK
  • K-2
  • 3-5
  • 6-8

Brief Description

A student in the "hot seat" asks questions to figure out a secret word.


Students will

  • use critical thinking skills as they ask thoughtful questions to narrow down a large list of words to one "secret word."


word wall, vocabulary, game, spelling

Materials Needed


  • No special materials needed

Lesson Plan

This activity can be used as a whole-class activity. If you teach students who can work independently, you might use it as a small group or pair activity once students are familiar with the activity's rules.

In this activity, one student is selected to come to the front of the class and take the "hot seat." The hot seat is located a few feet in front of a chalkboard, whiteboard, or chart. The student sits in a chair facing his or her classmates and with his or her back to the board or chart. The student also should have a clear view of the class word wall.

The teacher or a classmate selects a word from the word wall (or from students' spelling or vocabulary lists) and writes that word on the board or chart. The student in the hot seat is unable to see the word, but it is his/her job to guess the word by asking questions that help to narrow down the possibilities. For example, the student in the hot seat might ask

  • Is it a noun?
  • Does it have fewer than 10 letters?
  • Does it have more than two syllables?
  • Is the vowel a found in the word?
  • Would this word be found in the first half of the dictionary?

As the student narrows down the word, the questions might get more specific. For example, if the students gets a positive response to the question Is it an animal?, then the follow-up questions might include Is it bigger than a fox? or Does this animal live in the rain forest? If the clues help the student narrow down the word to a handful of possibilities, the student might ask questions to narrow down those possibilities, such as Does the word mean the same thing as [a definition of the word]? or Does the word rhyme with [another word]?

Keep a tally of the number of questions/clues it takes for the student to guess the word.


Which students guess the word in the fewest number of clues?

Lesson Plan Source

Shari Medley (adapted from an unknown original source)

Submitted By

Shari Medley; Shari also contributed to the Education World article, Teachers Say Word Walls Work!

National Standards

NL-ENG.K-12.6 Applying Knowledge
NL-ENG.K-12.12 Applying Language Skills

Click here to return to this week's word-wall lesson plan page.