Building up one's vocabulary requires a lot of memory work. In this game, your students will use the idea of word collocations to build up their English vocabulary.
Objective(s) of activity:
The main objective is to see how many related words your students can form using a base word.
Pairs of students will take turns forming related words and the winner is the one who can form one more word than the other person.
The game is simple. The first step is to choose a word, say a verb like ‘kick’.
The other person then has to come up with another word which uses the word ‘kick’ as its core meaning. The following shows some members of the ‘kick’ word family.
Eg. Kick – Kicks – Kicker – Kickers – Kick a ball – Kick the bucket – Overhead kick
The first three (kick, kicker, kickers) are part of the same family because they just have affixes (or more specifically, suffixes) added to the root word ‘kick’.
The other three can also be considered to be part of the ‘kick’ word family because these are collocations, whole words that occur commonly with ‘kick’.
For the purpose of this game, you can consider these both types as collocations of the word ‘kick’.
You should discuss the ‘kick’ example to illustrate how the game is played.
Some other examples of collocations using sample words:
Child – children – child seat – childish – childlike – child free - child menu
Destroy – destroyer – destroys – Destruction – destroyed – wanton destruction
Lock – locks – locked – unlock – unlocks – unlocked – lockable – unlockable
Ball – balls – basketball – soccer ball – netball – volleyball – pinball
Game – games – gamer – gaming – video game – game of thrones – game boy
Phone – phone call – telephone – phones – phone home – smart phone
Happy – unhappy – happier – happy camper – happiness – unhappiness - happily
Sell – sells – selling – sellable – salability – unsellable – sold – sold out
Notes for scaling up difficulty:
You can make this game more challenging for advanced students in the following ways:
i) Ban certain affixes:
One of the most common affixes that can go on a noun is the plural affix.
Eg. cat – cats, dog – dogs, teacher – teachers
Likewise the most common affix with verbs is the past tense, which can also be banned.
Eg. walk - walked, kick – kicked, jump - jumped
Ban the use of the plural or past tense family member for nouns and verbs respectively can make the game more challenging.
ii) Require more than one word at a time:
Instead of offering one word at a time, you can require two words at a time. This means that the easier answers run out faster and it is harder to come up with more family members.
iii) You can even choose to ban all affixes. Thus, for the ‘kick’ example the first four responses shown are not permitted. This forces students to generate concepts that are often found with the verb ‘kick’.
What other words and collocations did your students come up with? Let me know in the comments.