Authentic Lessons for 21st Century Learning

Vocabulary Charades

Chelsee Wilson | Published: September 16th, 2020 by K20 Center


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Vocabulary Charades

This strategy allows students to analyze words, their use, and the author's intent for those words in literature using a combination of movement and the student's own understanding of the vocabulary.

Vocabulary Charades


Students rely on context clues and prior knowledge to create a definition for a potentially unfamiliar word. After discussing their thoughts in groups and creating a group definition, a representative from each group then acts out the word for the whole class. Once all representatives have performed, the class creates one definition together.


  1. Select a potentially unfamiliar vocabulary word from a class text.

  2. Provide students with the sentence containing the vocabulary word and have students write down their definition and/or a illustration of the word.

  3. Place students in groups of 3-5 and ask them to discuss their definitions.

  4. Ask groups to create a collaborative definition that describes the word.

  5. Each group should then select one delegate who has the best understanding of the selected word.

  6. Each delegate will then act out the word for the class. After each delegate performance, ask the class how the delegate's interpretation of the word compares with their understanding of the word.

  7. Once all delegates have performed, have a brief discussion to determine a whole-class definition and the author's reason for using the word.

  8. Repeat this as needed for any other words you would like to focus on.