What's that Word?

Thinking & Engaging
Thinking & Engaging

Children create a definition for an unfamiliar word. 


  • List of words appropriate for group
  • Paper
  • Pencil


Sometimes, if we know the root of a word or its structure or context, we can guess what it means. This activity will help children make those connections and associations.


  1. Divide children into teams and give each team a piece of paper and a pencil.
  2. Read one of the unfamiliar words.
  3. Ask the groups to write down what they think the word means. Remind them to look for clues (i.e. Are there big words in the small words? Is there a prefix? Is it similar to another word?).
  4. After each team has written their answers, they can fold the paper and place it in the center.
  5. A staff member will then read aloud the answers.
  6. Groups vote on who they think answered correctly.
  7. Any group that guessed correctly receives a point. 


  • Provide hints if children are struggling.
  • Select words that are appropriate for your group and their skill level. 


  • Participants could get frustrated if they are having difficulty thinking of definitions.


Find out which types of words your group was having more difficulty with and consider playing again with more of those. Remind them that words that have a prefix provide hints as to what they mean (ie. un - reversed action; pre - before; post - after; re - do again; etc.).  

Obtained from: