Practicing Vocabulary with Beat the Clock
One of my favorite strategies for practicing vocabulary is Beat the Clock. This is a simple game where students compete against the clock, and themselves, to complete vocabulary tasks. It is a versatile strategy that can be used with any content and in a variety of ways, and it’s great as a final review before a test. In this blog post I will detail two variations.
Beat the Clock – True/False
To prep for this version, create 15-20 True/False statements using the target vocabulary. This example comes from my Powers of Ten Prefix Unit.
I recommend trying it out and timing yourself to decide how much time to give the kids to complete the task. In this example, I was able to answer the questions in about 30 seconds, so I tripled that and gave the kids 90 seconds. Most kids are able to finish the task in that time, so they feel successful right away.
To play with students:
- Put students in pairs. One partner will try to “Beat the Clock” and the other will watch the timer.
- Partner A goes first, and completes the task. Partner B tells them how long it took to complete the task, and Partner A records their time in the upper corner.
- Then it’s Partner B’s turn to “Beat the Clock”. Once both partners have had a turn, show the class the correct answers. Then, the power of the strategy is in doing it all again!
- The second time around, I generally mix up the order of the statements or change the definitions slightly. Even so, students almost always improve their time or their accuracy on the second round.
Beat the Clock – Vocabulary Puzzles
To prep for this version of the activity, you need to create Vocabulary Puzzles, similar to these ones from my Powers of Ten Prefix Puzzle resource.
Again, before you give the task to students, time yourself doing the task. Then, double or triple your time for the kids.
- I like to do this one as a partner task as well, but this time, the partners are working together to complete the puzzles. There are 20 puzzles in this resource, and because the shapes help the students, it is not that difficult. I give my students 2 minutes to do this with their partner.
- Once the 2 minutes are up, I project the Answer Key, which is included in the resource. Then, I ask the kids to mix up their cards and pass their set on to another group. This ensures that the cards are mixed up. 🙂
- Once every group has a new set of prefix cards, we try again!
Beat the Clock is so effective because it’s simple to use and takes hardly any time! Your competitive kids will love it! Students who are less competitive generally don’t mind competing against the clock and themselves, so it can feel like a low risk to them.
Give Beat the Clock a try today – I think you, and your kiddos, will love it!