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Codenames - Great Game for Vocabulary, Themes, Topics & More!

Codenames - Great Game for Vocabulary, Themes, Topics & More!

Codenames is a classic game where two teams square off, aiming to guess all of their assigned words on the board while avoiding the other team's words. The catch? Only a "spymaster" for each team knows the words their team needs, and they each take turns giving a one-word clue to their team to help them guess correctly. The first team to clear their words from the board wins!

For instance, one team might have "A rose" along with "the stars" as two of their words. Their spymaster may say: "symbol - two." This team would know that the spymaster has two words on the board they think connect to the word symbol. 

Perhaps the team misinterpreted and thought that the rose and poison were the two the spymaster meant. Poison may be a word the other team needed, meaning they scored one of their words and an opponent's word. It's always tricky to weigh the benefits of being aggressive with words selected, as wrong selections help the other team.

Normally Codenames is a board game, but this link will take you to a Google Folder with a blank board anyone can use. In addition, it has a sample "spymaster" board marked with which colors have which words, and a sample board so educators can see how it is set up. To play in class, the educator simply displays the normal board with the words, and selects two spymasters from each team. The spymasters receive a spymaster board from the educator (either printed or send electronically). From there, they can give clues, and the educator can color the words on the board as one team or another gets them correct for their team (or the other team)!

This activity works well for vocabulary, characters, events, major themes, and much more. 

Google Drawings Battle Royale

Image Battle Royale

The premise of the Google Drawings Battle Royale is simple - make a copy of the Google Drawing found here, invite four students as editors, then post a relevant term, character, concept, etc. that you want your students to represent in their responses. 

Once the students know the word, start the timer in the top left corner - it's a one-minute version of Europe's "The Final Countdown," a fun way to count down to the big "reveal" between the students. During that time, the students scour the internet for an image, GIF, or any visual representation that they believe best captures the word you selected. Once they find their image, they put it in the Google Drawing in their assigned section.

At the end of the minute, you reveal the Google Drawing to the whole class, and all students vote on which image best represents the word. After revealing the vote, each competitor gets a chance to explain why they chose their visual. After the explanations, conduct another group vote to see if any opinions change. Feel free to repeat the game with new contestants and terms!