Vocabulary Box

Learning focus:   A depository for all new useful words from a class which are then constantly recycled and reviewed by the class or individuals when required.

Benefits:   Allows for easy review of all vocabulary from a whole term/semester/course; excellent for ensuring students don’t forget key words from the beginning of a course (e.g. a GCSE, IB DP subject or any other 1 or 2 year courses); can be accessed by students who finish tasks early providing a valuable activity while slower students finish tasks; instant valuable activity on demand in case lesson timing was off or if students need livening up at any point during class.

Possible Drawback:   Requires commitment to extract all the useful words that you come across as a class.  You could assign the job to a student to help you, but safest to do it yourself.  Once in the habit, not hard to remember to do.

Timing:   Not a single activity – a resource for any vocabulary activity conceivable.  Allows for much faster planning of any vocabulary activities, just grab a handful of words from the box!

Equipment:   An empty printer paper box, shoe box or tissue box, rectangles of (scrap) paper about 2″ by 2″ .


  1. Cover/decorate a box for each class (each class/course must have a different box so that vocab from different courses is not confused; however, if two classes in the same year use the same, this is ok).
  2. Cut a whole in the top of the box big enough for you/students to put a hand in to retrieve fists of paper.
  3. Every time a new and useful word comes up in class, write it down on a square of paper and out it into the vocab box (do not write a definition, translation or example sentence; do write the word form “noun” “verb” etc if it is useful).  This also allows for occasional discussion with class over whether words are actually USEFUL or not.
  4. Collect a stack of useful words in no time at all and use this resource in infinite ways to review/recycle useful vocabulary.


Example activities where the vocab box is useful:

  1. Tell students that whenever they finish what they are doing, and are waiting for others (unless they can be doing something else related to the task, such as helping others in their group) that they can come and grab a fist of words, and test a partner to see if they can provide a definition, example sentence, translation etc of all the words.
  2. Backs to the Board
  3. Pictionary
  4. …more to come!

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