Word Race Stories


Generate comprehensible input and provide opportunities for output from a traditional vocabulary-review game that is played with a partner.

Download a PDF of the instructions and sample game boards for this activity here.


Generate a word cloud of the target vocabulary structures that you want to review (in the target language). This can be done electronically, or you could hand-write the words on a page. I typically use www.wordle.net to generate my word clouds. For structures that consist of more than one word, insert a tilde (~) between each word to stick them together (está~nervioso).

Print out copies of the word cloud: enough for one for every student in your class. If you are proficient in word processing, take a screen shot of the word cloud, and paste it into a word document with eight numbered lines at the bottom. If this is not easy for you to do quickly, skip it! Just print the word cloud on a page by itself (or create a word cloud by hand).

I keep a running list of all target structures on www.quizlet.com. This works well for students that have missed class to practice vocabulary the ‘old fashioned way’ (out of context), and I have an up-to-date vocabulary list that is ready to go for activities like this one.

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Distribute a word cloud and a highlighter or colored writing utensil (marker, crayon, colored pencil) to every student. Make sure that the students in each pair have a different colored writing utensil.

Play “Word Race”:

  1. Each pair uses Partner A’s paper first and places it between the two partners. Partner B sets aside his/her paper for now.
  2. Teacher calls out a term in English.
  3. The two partners race to cross out or highlight that term first on the paper. The student that marks the correct term first receives one point. If a student marks the wrong term, he or she loses one point.
  4. Continue game play until many terms have been crossed out (not necessarily all of them!), then have Partner B pull out his or her sheet and play another round. The winner is the student with the most points at the end of both rounds.


  1. Using words from the word cloud, each student should FILL UP the first line on the bottom half of the paper with the beginning of a story. It might be one sentence, it might be two….whatever it takes to fill up the line.(You can decide for yourself whether it’s okay if they try to write big so that they don’t have to write as much.) If you did not create a word document with the word cloud and lines on the same piece of paper, just have students fill up the first line on a lined piece of notebook paper.
  2. Have the students pass their paper clockwise.
  3. The next student must continue the story by filling up the second line with whatever happens next. It should make sense and go with the first line!
  4. Then, the second student passes the paper clockwise to the third person.
  5. Keep passing until all eight lines are filled, then return the paper to the original owner.
  6. If time remains, the original “owner” of the paper should re-write the story on a piece of lined paper, correcting and embellishing it to the best of his/her ability.
  7. Collect all papers before the kids leave!!


Type up several of the better stories that came out of the activity. Project them or photocopy them and distribute them to the class. Students can…

  • Read them with teacher guidance, using TPRS®/CI strategies like circling, checking for comprehension, and personalization (see this page for information about those strategies)
  • Translate them into English
  • Re-write them from another perspective or in another tense (Spanish 2A).
  • Expand them

17 thoughts on “Word Race Stories

  1. Brigitte says:

    Hi, love this game – and my kids do, too 🙂
    Just wanted to let you know that there is a very easy way in wordle to keep words together without writing them as one long word. All you have to do is put a tilde between the words you want to keep together.

  2. leesensei says:

    Fabulous – already love wordclouds for songs (I use worditout.com as it’s better for Asian text) and will be adding this to my repertoire! Thanks so much for all the sharing that you do!

  3. magisterp says:

    Martina, during the Writing portion, do you give students X minutes per sentence, and then have everyone rotate at once, or let them write and pass at their own pace?

  4. Janice Keenan (@SraKeenan) says:

    I have used a similar activity to the “word race” and the students really enjoy it! But I love the writing extension of this activity. Playing, creative writing, peer editing, what could be better? I think I may have them also create their own Wordles either using only the vocab words they know well or one using the vocabulary words they are least comfortable with…

  5. Marianna says:

    This is a fabulous activity! Where is the template for organizing the words like that? I would love to do something similar with another vocabulary list.

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