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Easy Game to Foster Interest and Engagement

Happy Saturday! I don't know about you, but I'm most thankful to live in Texas during the winter months like January and February. Ask me how I feel in June :) As I write this from my office, I am looking out onto a beautiful, sunny backyard. I'm definitely a warm weather girl and could not survive a winter in the North. For those bundled up and not in shorts, I hope you are warm and enjoying a cup of coffee, tea, or hot chocolate and reading this blog.

If you visit my website regularly, you know I feature an "Activity at a Glance" section where I post quick, easy activity ideas that require little to no prep. I have so many great things to share, I've decided to write a piece each month with at least one extra idea that won't be featured on the main page. If you missed any of the previous activities, they can be found on a new page here on the site.

Walk the Plank is a fun vocabulary/reading activity that kids really enjoy. It's much the same as hangman, but offers an *alternative to that which could have negative implications depending on cultural and community acceptable standards.


Objective: Students guess key words from a NEW reading selection - novel, short story, poem, or other text in a game similar to hangman. Once all words have been guessed, students make predictions about the text based on the words.

If you are not familiar with the game of Hangman, click here.


1. Choose two to four words from a new reading selection. These are the mystery words and are not revealed to students.

2. Draw a basic pirate ship and plank - see my very simple drawing below using shapes

Next draw one line to represent each letter of the mystery word below the ship.

3. Begin by letting students or teams take turns guessing letters; if the letter is in the word, place it in the correct blank. If an incorrect letter is guessed, draw one part of the stick figure. You can add details to the stick figure depending on how many guesses you want kids to have. As it it set up here, students get six before they are out.

4. Students continue to guess until all words have been revealed or the entire stick figure has been drawn. If students do not guess the word, reveal the mystery word by writing it on the board or displaying in some way and continue the game.

5. When all words have been revealed, ask students to define the words or give them the definitions depending on the time you want to spend on the activity. Have students make predictions about the text based on the words from the game. You may give students hints to the words at your discretion. Hints could be examples of the word, synonyms, antonyms, or a definition.


Students can...

~use the dictionary to look up and define the words and write those in a sentence.

~work together to write predictions about the text

~categorize the words into parts of speech

*Walk the Plank is an alternative for teachers in schools where hangman would not be appropriate due to community or cultural standards.

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