It was my mom's 60th surprise party and my cousin Joe introduced us to this way fun game called Celebrity Salad Bowl. Each person gets three slips of paper on which to write a celebrity's name. The names go into a bowl and fun ensues. In the three rounds of this game, people have to describe, give a one-word clue, and mime the celebrity. It is hysterical. The object of the game is to have your team score the most points. Each time a person guesses a celebrity correctly, that is one point for that team. People take turns being in the spotlight and describing/miming each celeb.
As I was watching my 90-year-old grandfather attempt to bend over and make a bridge with his body (Beau Bridges was the celebrity), I realized that this would be a great game to play with my sixth-grade students using our vocabulary words. I tried it out a few weeks later.
Preparing to Play Vocabrity Step by Step
First, I have each student peruse their vocabulary dictionaries for both reading and social studies. They then choose ONE vocabulary word. All words are fair game from the start of the year to present day. They write their one word (spelled correctly and written neatly) on a slip of paper. The paper gets folded and put into the bowl. The words chosen are kept secret.
The class is then divided up into teams. I don't much worry about the size. Sometimes they are small groups of five or six, and other times I just divide them into thirds so there are 10-11 kids in each group. A scoreboard is drawn on the white board in the front of the room.
In Round One, words are chosen one at a time from the bowl and any means (both words and actions) can be used to get your team to say the correct vocabulary word. Team 1 starts. They choose their first contender. This person goes to the front of the room (or the front of their group) and pulls a word out of the bowl. The contender then tries to get his/her teammates to say the correct word. For example, if the word is pyramid, the student might make his/her hands into the shape of a triangle above his/her head while saying "this is the tomb of a pharaoh."
As soon as a teammate guesses the word, the slip of paper is tossed onto the table – NOT back into the bowl – and the next word is chosen. The number of words guessed correctly in one minute equals the number of points that the team wins. When the minute is up, the bowl is passed to the next team. The slips of paper stay out of the bowl until ALL of them are gone. Team 2 now has a minute to get through as many of the words left in the bowl. When the bowl is emptied of all words (this could be any time, depending on how many words are there – usually it goes through the teams at least once before it is emptied) then round two starts.
If the bowl was emptied in the middle of a team's minute, pause the timer and put all the words back in the bowl. The team will continue their minute while starting round two. Round two works the same as round one, except that the contenders can only use ONE WORD to describe the vocabulary word. No gestures. No sentences or phrases. This is the tricky part and where strategy comes into play. If a team has been paying attention to round one and the clues given, often the ONE WORD can come from what a person said for a clue in that first round. For example, if I pulled the word pyramid in round two, I might just say "TOMB" as my one word and hope that my group-mates had been paying attention. The timing and the passing of the words are the same as in round one. When the bowl is empty, pause time and round three starts.
The rules remain the same. The minute picks up where it left off in round two, so whatever team emptied the bowl will most likely start this round. In round three, absolutely no words can be spoken. The contenders need to use ONLY GESTURES to get a their team to say the words. Again, strategy comes into play because gestures used previously can come back and make guessing that much easier.
Typically when I play this game with my classes it takes a while to get through all three rounds and we usually run out of time. The fewer words used, the quicker the game goes by, obviously, so from time to time, I will choose the words. And often they will be from a specific unit of study. It is a fun way to reinforce word meanings and also to use words in a memorable and often funny way.
You can download the template for the vocabulary dictionary pages by clicking here.
You can download directions to Vocabrity displayed on the classroom wall by clicking here.