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Vocabulary Toss


  • Arts & Humanities
    --Language Arts


  • PreK
  • K-2
  • 3-5
  • 6-8

Brief Description

Reinforce vocabulary with this game combining reading and basketball skills.


Students will

  • reinforce vocabulary skills by matching words with their meanings.
  • earn bonus points if they successfully shoot a basketball into a net.


vocabulary, word wall, basketball

Materials Needed


  • mini basketball net with sponge "basketball"
  • questions matched to words on the classroom word wall (see Before the Game below)

Lesson Plan

Before the Game
Purchase and set up in the classroom a mini basketball hoops that comes with a small sponge "basketball." Use masking tape to create on the floor a foul line that shots will be taken from.

Prepare in advance a vocabulary activity employing words that are included on the students' word wall. Prepare at least one question for each student in the class. The following sample question formats will work nicely for that purpose:

  • Provide a definition and ask students to identify the word-wall word that matches the definition.
  • Provide the phonetic pronunciation (for example, pro-NUN-see-ay-shun) and ask students to say or point to the word.
  • Provide a sentence that has one word missing; that word can be found on the word wall.
  • Provide a synonym (a word that means the same thing) or an antonym (a word that means the opposite), and have students identify the word.
  • Provide a rhyming word and ask students to identify the word-wall word.
  • Provide two dictionary "guide words" and ask students to identify a word wall word that might be found on the same page as those words. (For example, the word wonderful would be found on a dictionary page with the guide words "wall - word."

The Game
Arrange the class into 2 to 4 teams. Ask one of the questions you prepared (see Before the Game above) of the first student on the first team.

  • If a student identifies the correct word-wall word, that student earns a point and a chance to double his or her score (earn two points for the team) by trying to shoot a basket. A successful shot earns that second point; there is no penalty for a missed shot.
  • If the student does not identify the correct word-wall word, pass the question to the first player on the next team.

At the end of the game, the team with the most points is declared the winning team.

Lesson Plan Source

Adapted from an idea provided by teacher Melba Smithwick

Submitted By

Melba Smithwick; Melba also contributed to the Education World article, Teachers Say Word Walls Work!

National Standards

NL-ENG.K-12.2 Reading for Understanding
NL-ENG.K-12.3 Evaluation Strategies
NL-ENG.K-12.6 Applying Knowledge
NL-ENG.K-12.12 Applying Language Skills

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