My students LOVE vocabulary practice with each other! They beg me to do this vocabulary activity every class period! Let me share my secret! I call it 5 STAR Cards!
Using 5 Star Cards in the classroom is a highly engaging vocabulary activity for students. They love working with their peers and I love listening to the academic conversations as I circle through the room. One of my favorite things about this strategy is that both students working together benefit whether they are asking or answering the questions!
Making Vocabulary Fun in Middle School
Years ago, I began this vocabulary strategy using index cards. I hole punched them and put them on rings. This worked well for the most part, but some students had difficulty keeping track of the cards, After years of practice, it has evolved into the set up I describe below!
My students each have a composition notebook (super cheap at the beginning of the year) to record only their vocabulary.
To set up the notebook, first, cut each page into thirds. The notebook will resemble three stacks of flashcards. Voila! No more lost index cards!
Students write the vocabulary word on the front of the page. I always encourage big letters and lots of color. The back of the card gets a short definition and a picture showing the meaning of the word.
Why do I call it 5 Star Cards???
I explain to my class that super swanky hotels and restaurants have a 5-star rating. That means they are the absolute best! Inevitably, someone wants to know if McDonald’s is a 5-star restaurant…. 🙂
Here’s How to Play
Students get a partner and switch notebooks. First, partner #1 reads the DEFINITION from partner #2’s notebook. If partner #2 says the correct vocabulary word, partner #1 draws a star on the front of the card. They continue flipping through the book, reading definitions and placing stars on cards with the correct answer on the first try.
I keep a word wall on the board in my room. This has been a big help for struggling students and English language learners!
The goal is to make each vocabulary card a 5-star card!
When a card reaches 5 stars on the front, they have mastered the vocabulary word. My students cut the completed card out of their book. Now, there is only new content to study.
My rule is that students may get one star, per card, per day. I usually set a timer so that each student has an equal amount of practice time. This is a great warm-up and also an easy, academic way to fill the last five minutes of class!
My students turn in their completed cards for a small reward. They get very competitive and beg to do “5 Star Cards” every class!!