Want some alternative #testing ideas for #spelling/vocab #teachers?

what makes a poem a "classic"?

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The following are some of the alternative “testing” ideas I’ve used in my classroom over the years. If you like my ideas/use them, please show your appreciation by liking, tweeting, or re-blogging, giving credit to EnglishEmporium.WordPress.com. Thanks!


Homophone Sentence Review

Materials Needed:

  • Overhead Transparencies of Sentences w/ Homophone Blanks
  • Paper
  • Pen/Pencil
  • Random Student Names to Pull from a Hat
  •  Vocabulary Lists/Answers are NOT ALLOWED!


The teacher shows sentences on the transparency (one sentence at a time).  Students, in their seats, write the correct spelling of the word which goes in the blank.  Example of a sentence:

I’m just wondering ________ I put my keys.  (answer: where)

The teacher reads the correct spelling out loud to the class.  The class keeps a tally of how many words they got right.  Students with the highest score (most correct words) get to leave class first, when the bell rings (or get candy, etcetera).

For a list of possible homophones/homonyms, please visit the spelling page.


Team Word Flashcard Review

Materials Needed:

  • Markers
  • Flash Cards (3×5 cards or cardstock cards)
  • Scorekeeper
  • A Vocabulary List for the Teacher to Use (Key)


Let’s say there are 15 vocabulary words on this week’s vocab list.  Divide the students into two teams, giving each team 15 cards.  The team then distributes the cards more-or-less evenly among themselves.  (Most students will have two cards for which they are responsible;  some may have three cards.)  Then the teams divide up the list like this:  “Sally, you make a card for ‘weather’ and ‘negotiate.;  Bill, you make a card for ‘stream’ and ‘frenzy.’”  Until all 15 vocabulary words have been written on cards.  Important:  each team member MUST create a generally equal number of vocabulary cards.

The cards must fulfill these requirements, to be considered acceptable:

  1. they must be written clearly, so that the teacher can EASILY read the word from across the room
  2. the vocabulary must be spelled correctly
  3. the card should show no capitalization or punctuation errors


Next, the teacher reads a definition out loud.  Team members who have the correct

word must hold up the word, for the teacher to see.  If the team has more than one team member holding up a vocabulary card, that team forfeits their point.  If the team holds up the correct card, however, they gain a point.

Important feature of this game:  occasionally rotate the cards, to force students to learn the definitions for new/different words.

Reward:  winning team is first to leave the classroom, when the bell rings.


Around the World Spelling

Materials Needed:

  • A Vocabulary List for the Teacher to Use (Key)
  • Desks
  • Chits (For “Three Strikes”)


Have all of the students sit on their desks, holding three chits.  (Chits can be playing cards, play money, poker chips, pencils, dominoes, etc…)  The teacher says a spelling word, like “snug.”  The first student says, “s;” the second student says “n;” the third student says “u;” the fourth student says “g.”  If a student misses a letter, they must give out a chit.  When all three chits are gone and they miss a letter with no chits left to give, they must sit down.  The last student standing will win a candy or new pencil.


Ball Pass Spelling/Vocabulary

Materials Needed:

  • Beach Ball
  • A Vocabulary List for the Teacher to Use (Key)


Students pass the ball around the room at random.  When the ball comes to someone, he/she must spell the word given.  Variation:  he/she must give the vocab word to match the definition the teacher gives.


Formal Spelling Test with a Partner

Materials Needed:

  • Pencils
  • Formal Vocabulary Tests
  • A Vocabulary List for the Students to Use (Key)
  • Pen (for correcting)


One student holds a vocabulary list, while the other takes a written test.  The mock “teacher” reads the vocabulary words one at a time, while their partner writes the answers on the formal vocabulary test form.  Then they trade places.  Afterwards, they correct each other’s papers.  Variation:  If a student missed a spelling word or a definition match-up, have them write that spelling word in three different sentences, correctly.



Materials Needed:

  • Markerboard
  • Markerboard Markers
  • Scorekeeper
  • A Vocabulary List for the Teacher to Use (Key)


Divide class into four (or more) teams.  A person from each team goes to the board.  The teacher calls out a definition from the vocabulary list.  The first person to correctly spell the matching vocabulary word wins a point.  Winning team gets candy/pencil prizes.

Variation:  hand out different colored stickers at the beginning of class.  People with same stickers make one team.



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