Word Race Stories

Generate comprehensible input and provide opportunities for output from a traditional vocabulary-review game that is played with a partner! This activity makes for a great sub plan component, even when your sub doesn’t speak the target language.

Generate comprehensible input and provide opportunities for output from a traditional vocabulary-review game that is played with a partner! This activity makes for a great sub plan component, even when your sub doesn't speak the target language.

PREPARE THE WORD RACE STORY WORKSHEET

To get started, download the game template here!

Once you’ve got the template, grab the text from an existing story or –yes – even a word list. Pop it into a Word Cloud Generator (I use this one because it gives me a high level of control, but this one is a bit more user friendly).

PRO TIP: For structures that consist of more than one word, insert a tilde (~) between each word to stick them together (está~nervioso).

Technology not your friend? You can totally hand-write the words on a page! I typically use www.wordle.net to generate my word clouds.

Use a full-page word cloud OR pop it into the template (download here!) so that the word cloud is at the top of the page and the bottom half contains numbered lines. You’ll want each of your students to have their own copy.

Word cloud example for word race stories - Spanish!
One possible layout!

PLAY WORD RACE

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

Round One

In Round One, each pair uses Partner A’s paper. Partner A should place it between them and their partner, and Partner B sets aside his/her paper for now.

The teacher calls out one term at a time in English.

When they hear the word in English, the two partners race to be the first one to cross out or highlight that term on the paper. Whichever student marks the correct term first receives 1 point. If a student marks the wrong term, he or she loses one point. (In this way, it’s similar to Pencil Grab.)

Continue game play until many terms have been crossed out; but not necessarily all of them.

Round Two

Partner A now sets aside the first paper, and Partner B pulls out his or hers. Play Round Two exactly like Round One!

The winner is the student with the most points at the end of both rounds.

TAKE WORD RACES TO THE NEXT LEVEL WITH GROUP STORIES

Generate comprehensible input and provide opportunities for output from a traditional vocabulary-review game that is played with a partner! This activity makes for a great sub plan component, even when your sub doesn't speak the target language.

Time to use the bottom half of the template!

STEP ONE: START A STORY

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 could be a familiar story or an original story; you decide. Each student might write one sentence; maybe 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 work from the template that contains 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. No problem!

STEP TWO: PASS THE STORY

Have the students pass their paper clockwise.

STEP THREE: CONTINUE THE STORY

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!

STEP FOUR: REPEAT!

Then, the second student passes the paper clockwise to the third person. Keep passing until all eight lines are filled, then return the paper to the original owner.

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.

Collect all papers before the kids leave!!

KEEP THE STORIES GOING!

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 comprehension based strategies like circling, checking for comprehension, and personalization (see this page for information about those strategies)
  • Translate the stories into English
  • Re-write them from another perspective or in another tense (horizontal conjugation).
  • Expand them by adding one word or detail to each sentence, an additional sentence between each sentence…anything!

19 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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