Fun with Words:
On-line Games, Puzzles and Other Websites to Build Vocabulary
for College Reading and English Fundamentals
Developers: This page was compiled and annotated by English Fundamentals II class, Section 04H, TNCC, Fall 2014
Professor: Rick Dollieslager
Email me: firstname.lastname@example.org
Students: Minerva Barnes, Kayla Bartley, Elizabeth Benner, Jalen Bullard, Antonius Clark, Ike Costa, R. J. Eddy, Brianna Grant, Ben Green, Kenneth Hailey, Derrick Hite, Brittney Michie, Brady Murray, Pascal Shukuru, Taylor Tant, Grace White
Last updated: 26 March 2015
Vocabulary Building Games and Activities On-Line
“8 Letters in Search of a Word.” Vocabulary.co.il. Vkidz. 15 Oct. 2014. <http://www.vocabulary.co.il/word-play/8-letters-in-search-of-a-word>. (Created by Jacob Richman)
- This game provides eight letters mixed up and arranged similar to a Scrabble rack. The user has a time limit to produce as many words as possible from the eight letters given. The game can help build vocabulary by guessing at words that could be spelled from the available letters.
"Grammar Terms." Grammar Bytes! Grammar Instruction with Attitude: Chomp Chomp Grammar. 26 March 2015 <http://www.chompchomp.com/menu.htm>.
- Publisher Robin L. Simmons writes "Find detailed definitions of common grammar terms—everything from abstract nouns to verbs!"
“Clueless Crossword." Vocabulary.co.il. Vkidz. 15 Oct. 2014. 21 Oct. 2014. <http://www.vocabulary.co.il/word-play/clueless-crossword-puzzle>.
- In clueless crossword you have to point at an empty square. All the squares with the same letter will highlight. If you click on the square, you are ready to guess a letter. Guess a letter to fill in the highlighted squares. It will fill in the letter you picked if it is right or if it’s wrong. If you want to change a block you have already filled in, click the block and then a new letter. This crossword puzzle is designed for students from pre-k through college aged users. This game can be used to improve spelling, memory, vocabulary and retention skills.
"Crossword Puzzle Maker." The Teacher's Corner. 26 March 2015 <http://worksheets.theteacherscorner.net/make-your-own/crossword >.
- It is just as described: Type in vocabulary words and the answer clues and the program makes them into a crossword puzzle grid.
“English Vocabulary.” Free Rice. United Nations World Food Programme, Rome. 15 Oct. 2014. <http://freerice.com/#/english-vocabulary/1490>.
- Select the correct multiple choice definition of the words the game supplies, and 10 grains of rice are donated for each correct answer through the World Food Program to end world hunger. The words seem to be targeted to an ESL audience, mainly, but how else can you have fun while ending world hunger? There are many other learning games at this site as well.
“Grammar Crossword.” The Learning Network: Teaching and Learning with The New York Times. New York Times, Inc. 16 Oct. 2014. <http://www.nytimes.com/learning/teachers/xwords/print/20011101.html?module=Search&mabReward=relbias%3Aw>. (Puzzle created by Frank Longo, Edited by Will Shortz)
- In addition to this grammar-definitions crossword, The Learning Network has hundreds of learning activities as well as dozens of crossword puzzles categorized by topics or subject matter. See http://learning.blogs.nytimes.com/?s=crosswords for more.
“The Hangman Game.” I [Heart] Learning. 15 Oct. 2014 <http://www.hangman.learningtogether.net>.
- The Hangman game provides blank spaces to type in letters, where a player has to guess a word by typing it one letter at a time. The words can be challenging and the vocabulary is posted by category. For instance, “considerate” is one of the words in the category of “personality traits.” If the words are not guessed in the chances given, the correct word will display when the user can’t get it. Learningtogether.net is an on-line collaboration of hundreds of teachers from all around Europe.
“High School Analogy Match.” Vocabulary.co.il. Vkidz. 15 Oct. 2014. <http://www.vocabulary.co.il/analogies/high-school/high-school-analogy-match>. (Created by Jacob Richman)
- This is an analogy game that may provide new words that can be learned from context clues or from a dictionary, and it develops critical thinking skills as well. Example: “Baton is to conductor as [flute is to flautist].” Some of the analogies are quite challenging.
Mad Takes. 14 Oct. 2014. <http://www.madglibs.com/index.php>. (Created by Nathanael Huddleson.)
- An on-line version of the popular Mad Libs story game, this is a great way to reinforce the parts of speech. The game presents a list of boxes and asks the players to input specific parts of speech in each box. When the boxes are filled with words, pressing “Go Mad” fills them into blanks in a story, with always funny results. The word lists are themed, for example, Romeo and Juliet, A Letter from Camp, Olympic Commentary, Course Descriptions, which makes an additional challenge to try to come up with words that would seem relevant.
Puzzle Baron's Cryptograms. 4 Nov. 2014. <http://www.cryptograms.org>.
- Cryptograms are cipher puzzles where one letter replaces another in a saying or in a quote from a well-known person. The player guesses at letters in words based on the letter patterns and the frequency of their use, substituting one letter for another throughout the puzzle. This is an excellent critical thinking tool that produces new and sometimes surprising words to aid in building vocabulary and sharpens knowledge of spelling patterns and word patterns within a sentence, in addition to building vocabulary. It is easy to use and scores automatically. There is a timer for users who want to crack the cryptogram codes competitively. The Puzzle Baron sites also includes "acrostics, logic puzzles, drop quotes, patchwords, wordtwist and even crossword puzzles; we run the gamut in word puzzles, printable puzzles and logic games."
Vocabulary.com. Vocabulary.com. 15 Oct. 014. <http://www.vocabulary.com>.
- The target audience is adults and college users. The website asks multiple choice questions about 100,000 vocabulary words. It features Adaptive Vocabulary Instruction to monitor answers and suggest new words and exercises based on the user’s level of expertise, and it includes a dictionary. It reintroduces words at times to ensure that the user retains vocabulary words which have already been learned and includes word lists for SAT prep, and from literary and historical works. “Each question tests a particular meaning of a word, provides helpful hints, and is followed by an explanation of the correct answer.”
“Word Lists That Win Word Games.” Word Buff. 16 Oct. 2014. <http://www.word-buff.com/word-lists.html#SCRABBLE>.
- Are you looking for words with Q but no U in order to win at Scrabble? Hunting for little known words to finish crossword puzzles? How about Spelling Bee words from A to Z? Word Buff is the site for word game “cheats” and many other vocabulary building games and activities.
“Word Shake.” Learn English. British Council.org. 14 Oct. 2014. <http://learnenglish.britishcouncil.org/en/word-games/wordshake>.
- “Word Shake” provides a 16-letter, square grid, and the user makes as many three to seven letter words as possible in three minutes. The program totals points based on the length of the words identified. While primarily for ESL learners, it can also help native English speakers who can guess at words from the letters given, and if a guessed word is scored, it can be looked up in a dictionary.
“Word Scrambler.” SuperKids: Education for the Future. Knowledge Share, L. L. C. 16 Oct. 2014. <http://www.superkids.com/aweb/tools/words/scramble>.
- Word Scrambler is easy to use. Simply enter the list of up to ten words and the spellings are scrambled on a separate grid list for printing out. Any words can be entered, so it is adaptable for any age or grade level.
“Word Search.” Vocabulary.co.il. Vkidz. 15 Oct. 2014. <http://www.vocabulary.co.il/word-play/word-search-game>. (Created by Jacob Richman.)
- Users can choose a level of difficulty and the words list, from a wide selection of word categories from astronomy, to heteronyms, to Z words. The words are listed next to a 12 by 12 letter grid, and the user identifies the words “hidden” in the grid. The words may be arranged horizontally, vertically, diagonally, forwards or backwards. Finding the rearranged words helps people remember spellings, according to the website creator. The word lists and categories introduce new vocabulary words as well--such as “heteronyms”!
Wordles. 4 Nov. 2014. <http://www.wordle.net>. (Created by Jonathan Feinberg)
- The website calls Wordles "a toy for generating 'word clouds' from text that you provide." The word clouds are just different visual arrangements of words that a user either inputs or copies and pastes from another source, including their own. The word clouds make remembering words easier for some people. The word groups can be modified by the user by changing fonts, colors, and arrangement of the words, just by pressing a key. The word clouds are saved on the wordles.net so that they can be studied or used again later, or they can be printed out, or they can be deleted without saving them anywhere. It is a very easy way to create rememberable word collections. You can do it in a few minutes. Like this.
Reading and Listening to Build Vocabulary: Websites and Apps
"Free ebooks." Project Gutenberg. 11 Oct. 2014. 4 Nov. 2014. <https://www.gutenberg.org>.
- What better way to build vocabulary than by reading? Project Gutenberg has over 46,000 free ebooks and provides access to over 100,000 free ebooks through their affiliated groups. The ebooks are in public domain, and their webpage is similar to a library index and search page.
Let's Play Jeopardy! http://community.tncc.edu/faculty/dollieslager/Nat_Geo_Reader_Civil_War_Jeopardy.ppt
- Use this Power Point Jeopardy as a demo and as a template. The vocabulary, as used in context, is from "A Sketch in Time: Bringing the Civil War to Life" by Harry Katz, National Geographic, May 2012. Strip out the answers and questions, and replace them with chapter, story or article vocabulary words and answers for in-class competition, or use the Power Point as a "flip" for studying vocab at home by linking it to your Learning Management System or your class web page.
OverDrive. 4 Nov. 2014. Overdrive, Inc. <https://www.overdrive.com>.
- Connect to all the ebooks, audio books, and digital music in your local public library and all the VCCS digital libraries from your computer, iPad, ChromeBook, iPhone and similar devices.
Writer's Almanac. American Public Media, 2014. 4 Nov. 2014 <http://writersalmanac.publicradio.org>. (Hosted by Garrison Keillor)
- Listen for new words while learning about literary figures, events, and history--from the literary past through contemporary times. Every day on this five-minute radio show, host Garrison Keillor tells about famous writers born on that day and reads bits and pieces of things they wrote and things written about them. He also tells about literary events on that day, such as who won the Nobel Prize in literature or what famous book was published. He has the perfectly quiet, baritone voice for reading a different poem at the finish of each program. Writer's Almanac can be heard on Public Radio stations or listened to or read on line.
Apps for pads, smart phones, smart books
- Whirly Word: Start the game and see a wheel with six letters. Spell all the possible 6- 5- 4- and 3-letter words. Press "whirl" when you can't see any more spellings, and the letters are rearranged. Learn new words when you can't identify any more because, after the round, the game displays those that you did not recognize.
- Word Hero: With a 16-letter square grid and a two-minute time limit, swipe a finger across adjacent letters to spell words and compete against other wordsmiths from around the world. The list of all possible words displays at the end of the round to show the dozens that you missed to add to your personal vocabulary: "stillion"? "anopsias"? We've got some studying to do!
- Scrabble: There are numerous varieties of this old-school board game available as apps.
- Words with Friends: Compete in Scrabble with online opponents in real time. Do it through Facebook with your Facebook friends. According to reports from student users, everyone (else) cheats at this online version of scrabble. ;-)