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Rock-Paper-Scissors Spelling and Vocabulary

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Short description of activity:  Play Rock-Paper-Scissors to see who has to spell a word

Type of activity: Energizer, Review of Content

Minimum Time Needed for Activity: 15 min

Grade Level: All

Subject Area: ELA


  • Student-specific Spelling list or Vocabulary list
  • Tape, paperclip or binder clip

Set up:

  1. Create sheets of spelling or vocabulary words broken out into rock, paper and scissor columns for each student using the lists they are studying (see examples and blank template). For students working on Words their Way sorts, keep words sorted by long vowel, short vowel, etc. as is done in their sort.
  2. Students attach their list to their shirt, facing out, so that they cannot see it, and it is visible to the person they are doing “battle” against.


  1. Students randomly pair off (or have 2 moving lines, concentric circles facing each other, etc).
  2. The pair plays one round of R/P/S. The student who loses the toss must spell a word in the column of the symbol that defeated them. (example:, if Rock beat Scissors, the defeated student must spell something from the Rock column). The victor is the one who gives the prompt and verifies that it is spelled correctly.
  3. if they have worked through an entire column, victor may select a word from another column.
  4. Pairs break and find a new partner (or lines move, circles rotate, etc).
  5. Play for a designated amount of time or until all words are spelled. If a student has spelled all of their words, they may sit down until all others have finished.


  • If students have their spelling words already cut out (Words Their Way), instead of creating a sheet to tape to their chest/shirt, students can hold a baggie or envelope of their words. if/when they lose the throw, their opponent can pull a word from the envelope to quiz them.
  • Students can mark on the sheet which words have been spelled so there is not a repeat.
  • Students can mark on the sheet which words were spelled incorrectly to give a student reflection on which words they need to work on (or help the teacher do an informal assessment)
  • Do a whole body R/P/S: students count one, two, three and “throw” a pose with their body:
    • Rock: fists near the chin, elbows to the hips and knees bent> closed body
    • Paper: arms and legs spread wide> star pose
    • Scissors: staggered stance, hands on hips (to create blades and holes of the scissors respectively)
  • Vocabulary:
    • Students define the word correctly.
    • Students use the word correctly in a sentence.
    • Students conjugate the verb correctly.
  • Math:
    • Students have flashcards of math facts with which to quiz each other.


ELA Standards > Reading: Foundational Skills > Phonics and Word Recognition

ELA Standards > Language > Conventions of Standard English; Vocabulary Acquisition and Use

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