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12 Vocabulary Activities for High School

Gathering New Words

Words are power. Until you have a word for something, you can't think effectively about it. That's why every discipline has its own specialized vocabulary and why people who study the discipline must learn the vocabulary in order to be conversant.

So, vocabulary-building is as crucial in high school, college, and career as it was when students were first learning to read and write. It helps native speakers and English language learners, alike. You can use any (or all) of these creative word activities to help your students expand their vocabularies and their minds.

Four Vocabulary Builders

  • Building Words asks students to define prefixes, roots, and suffixes and assemble them into new words, which they define.
  • Understanding Context Clues teaches students strategies for understanding new terms by seeing how they are used.
  • Using Context Clues provides students a passage for defining terms using context.
  • Discovering Word Origins helps students think about how words evolve, changing meaning from language to language and context to context.

Five Usage Activities

  • Usage Mnemonics inspires students to discover personal memory aids for distinguishing commonly confused words.
  • Words in the Wild sends students to search the Internet for examples of correct usage of commonly confused words.
  • Spell the Right Word requires one partner to use a commonly confused word correctly in a sentence and the other to spell the right form of the word.
  • Would You Rather? has one partner use commonly confused word pairs to provide the other partner with options to choose from.
  • Malapropism Mania! asks students to read humorous malapropisms and define both the incorrect word and the word that is meant.

Three Idiom Explorations

  • Idiom Safari helps students find idioms "in the wild," as they are currently used on the Internet.
  • Literal Idioms asks students to learn the figurative meaning of idioms and then use them literally.
  • Pun-ishing Idioms teaches your students ways to create groaner jokes worthy of Dad.