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Classroom Games: How to Use Word Splash

Janelle Cox

Happy girl in class with hand raised.

Word Splash is a comprehension and vocabulary strategy that makes learning terminology easier for students. It’s a fun, interactive activity (that should be a part of your collection of classroom games) that engages students and motivates them to learn new words while by setting a clear purpose for reading.  Here we will take a look at how it works and how to use it.

How it Works

Before beginning a new chapter or unit of study, the teacher determines important terminology or key concepts for the topic. Then the words are “Splashed” or displayed (preferably in an angle) on the front board or somewhere in the classroom. Students brainstorm and generate complete statements connecting the words or phrases. They predict how the words relate to the main topic. Once they have predicated and generated their statements, students then read the printed material to check their accuracy and revise if needed.

Introducing Word Splash

Word Splash can be used for any topic and in any subject. Before introducing Word Splash, decide on a topic and determine the most important vocabulary words or key concepts about that topic. For this example we will be using the following terms: Slavery, Freedom, Conductor, Underground Railroad, Abolitionist, (Harriet Tubman).

  1. As a prereading activity or as part of your regimen of classroom games, display words on the front board (or in any creative way you like) and explain that the words you are reading to the students relate to an article they are going to read.
  2. Have students work in pairs to predict what they topic is going to be about.
  3. Once students have shared their predications, you can now write your topic, “Harriet Tubman,” on the front board.
  4. Then, students must connect two or more of the words together and tell how they will go together in the article. They must do this for all of the words. 
  5. Students then need to read the article on Harriet Tubman and learn how the words are connected. Tell students to compare the connections with their predications and revise if needed.
  6. Students can next share their findings with another pair.

How to Keep it Fun and Interesting

To keep the Word Splash strategy fun, try and vary the way you present it. Here are a few ideas.

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  • Write vocabulary words on a name tag and stick it to the students’ shirts.
  • Display words on paper and hang them from the ceiling with wire hangers or paper clips.
  • Use window markers and write the vocabulary words on the window.  
  • Write words in different colored chalk on the front board.
  • Write words on sticky notes and place randomly around the classroom.

Suggestions for Application

Here are a few ways you can use the Word Splash strategy in your classroom as part of your collection of classroom games.

  • Create a Word Splash prior to viewing an educational video, then pause the video periodically for students to discuss and revise their predications.
  • Create a Word Splash prior to having a guest speaker. After the speaker has completed his presentation, have students share their predications with the guest.
  • Use the Word Splash strategy for summarizing. Have students read a passage and then create their own Word Splash of what they feel are the key terms or ideas in the passage.
  • Create a Word Splash with pictures. Display a variety of pictures for students and ask them what they think the key ideas are in the photos.
  • Extension activity Have students use the words to write complete sentences about Harriet Tubman. For example. Harriet Tubman was a conductor on the Underground Railroad. She was an Abolitionist who escaped slavery to help other African-American slaves escape to freedom.
  • Word Splash can also be used to teach important math terminology. Before beginning a unit on measurement, write the following key terms on the front board: Area, centimeter, inches, foot, length, height, perimeter, meter. Have students read the words and guess what each term means. Hang the terms from the ceiling and keep them their throughout the unit. As the unit progresses, encourage students to draw and write their own definitions of the terms in their notebooks. This can be used as a study aid to help students recall words.

Research shows that we read better when we have a purpose. The Word Splash strategy is the perfect choice for struggling or reluctant readers. It provides them with a purpose for reading, which help capture their attention and motivate them to learn.



Janelle Cox is an education writer who uses her experience and knowledge to provide creative and original writing in the field of education. Janelle holds a master’s of science in education from the State University of New York College at Buffalo. She is a contributing writer to, and Hey Teach. She was also the elementary education expert for for five years. You can follow her on Twitter @empoweringed, on Facebook at Empowering K12 Educators, or contact her at

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