Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Recycling Vocabulary in Primary ELT

This is a simple but effective way to recycle vocabulary with YLs.

This is my vocabulary box. This one was made with very young learners in mind so ,the pictures and box are a bit babyish. 

You can choose another design for older children, more appropriate to their ages and interests. The first step is the box. The children love the box in itself. It never fails to stir their interest when I walk into class with it. After you've made your box the fun starts.

As I teach all of my YL classes using a coursebook, we have a lot of flashcards. I collect them in the box and we play a lot of games with them. Here are a few of my favourite games:

1. I've lost my voice : Sit the children in a circle. Ask one of the children to come to the front. They take out a picture flashcard. You tell them that they've lost their voice. They're only allowed to mouth the word to the other students. The students watch and guess the word. This is a lovely quiet activity and a great, fun way to recycle vocabulary.

2. Pictionary: Fill the box with word cards instead of picture flashcards. Sit the the children in a circle as before. One child takes out a word card and draws a visual representation of the word on the board. Children take it in turn to guess the word.

3. I'm the teacher : This can be used for fast finishers. If you have children that have finished an activity earlier they can get the box and take it turns in being the teacher by quizzing their friends on the vocabulary. 

4.Make a sentence : With older students they can take a word or picture flashcard and make a sentence that includes that word.  Helps children to 'know' a word by giving them practice in using it in a sentence.

5. Spelling Bee: Take a flashcard and spell the word. Helps children to 'know' a word by being able to spell it.

What games  and activities do you play to recycle vocabulary?

Inspired by Emma Herrod's post - The Two - Week Vocabulary Blogging Challenge

More Great Games for YLS from Dave Dodgson at Reflections of a Teacher and Learner


  1. Hi Leahn, all of these activities are very nice. I've done #1 quite a lot, good for focusing on lip movement. #4 could just run and run, very good. #2 is similar to Karenne's recent post on "look at/for/after". Please tell me about #3. Do the children relish being in a position of power, or are they helpful and supportive?
    Here's a clip about brownie points. Funny, and all too real.


  2. Thanks for the link David. Watched it, and now I'm going to be doing some more thinking!

  3. Oh, I forgot to say that the children are helpful and supportive when playing game number 3, just like their teacher! They give their friends little hints even the tiny ones...

  4. Hey Leahn,

    I just LOVE these ideas! Sorry it's been a while coming back to you on your post.

    I always love a good game of pictionary :)

    In fact, there's no reason why this shouldn't work with adult learners in a group too, as long as it's not done in a way that might patronise them. I used to have an little English, red postbox that I used for some similar activities and that seems to go down well.

    I'm just linking you back to my site as a reponder to the challenge.

    Thank you :)

  5. Hi Emma,

    Thank you :). I like the red postbox idea. I have to get some more Brit stuff from back home.

    Thanks for challenging my brain,