Vocabulary box

A small box, such as a shoe box, is a very useful tool in the classroom - it can become a vocabulary box. You also need some small blank cards or pieces of paper.

Gillie Cunningham


  • At the end of each vocabulary lesson - for example 'Houses and Homes' - either you or the students should write words from the lesson on different cards. So, you may end up with ten words on ten cards (bedroom, kitchen, roof, window, etc) and these cards are then placed in the vocabulary box. If you have time, and with stronger classes, you, or the students, may write a definition of the word on the reverse of each card.
  • This vocabulary box can then be used at any time to review the vocabulary studied over the weeks.
  • You could simply pick words from the box at random, give the definition and ask for the word. This can be done as a simple team game.
  • Or you may try something more active. For example, when you've had this vocabulary box for a month or two and there are quite a lot of cards in there, you might say to the students 'OK, I want all these cards divided into nouns, adjectives and verbs… Go! You have three minutes.' Or, you might say 'OK, I want all these cards divided into lexical sets … Go!' Or, you might say 'Each corner of the room is a different lexical set - that one's furniture, that one's medicine, that one is food and that one is sport. Put the cards in the right corner, you have one minute to do this…Go!' Then they're all running around trying to get their words in the right corner. This could also be done in teams, giving each team a handful of words to sort.

This box just becomes so flexible in how you can use it. It could be at the end of the lesson. For example 'You can't leave the classroom until you've defined two words that are in the box'. Vocabulary boxes are fantastic and they take so little time but provide so many activities.

Language Level


Submitted by KaraAharon on Mon, 02/06/2017 - 15:23

This is a great idea. For non-readers we can put a picture in the box for each word we learn. At the end of the year with young learners I put pictures on the floor and have them place them, one at a time, under the right category on a chart and say the word. They're always excited to see how much they've learned, even if not everyone remembers every word. I've never thought of collecting the pictures during the year, but this will build up anticipation, allow them to see progress and also save preparation time.

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