Dictionary Race

Thinking & Engaging
Thinking & Engaging

Participants practice using a dictionary and finding specific words, and words that start with specific letters as quick as they can.


  • Dictionaries

  • Paper
  • Pencil/Pen


Who knew that combining a race and a dictionary would be fun?


  1. Divide participants into pairs and give each participant a dictionary.
  2. The leader will write 4-8 beginnings of words that participants have to find.
  3. Beginning of words could be the first two letters, first three and so on.
  4. If one of the beginnings is “Che”, then each participant has to find a word in their dictionary that starts with “Che”, and write it down on their piece of paper. They will then move on to the next beginning. Remind participants to pick words they may not know the definition of, or one they are not very familiar with.
  5. Set a time limit for the participants to find and write down all of the required words.
  6. Second step: One participant at a time will read their words to their partner along with the definition of each word. 
  7. The participant is say their first word, along with the definition (which they will read from the dictionary). Their partner is going to spell the word on their piece of paper.
  8. After each word, the participant will check the spelling of the word and tell the participant if any letters are wrong, which letters, if they need to add a letter, take out a letter, substitute a letter and so on. 
  9. Especially for younger participants, do not make this a competition or a test; this is more of a learning activity and race.


  • Divide participants into groups of 3-5 and have a prepared list of completed words (or randomly select from dictionary). Say the word aloud to initiate the groups to quickly search for the word in their dictionaries. As soon as a group has found the word, they will rush to a whiteboard, blackboard, or flip chart and write the word down. Correct spelling grants the team a point. Facilitator can decide whether the group is allowed to have dictionary with them while spelling.


  • There are no foreseeable safety concerns for this activity.


No wrap-up is necessary for this activity.

Adapted from: http://activeafterschool.ca/activities/dictionary-races