By Steve Quann

Tech skills: typing, clicking, and intermediate web navigation

If I had to pick one site that helps teachers create online games or activities such as flash cards, it would be But because it does just about everything (even works on your iPhone!), it can be a bit challenging to use. So although it caters to a range of ages and levels, those new to technology integration might want to try the following website first: VocabularySpellingCity. This website’s mission — and they do it well — is to create an efficient game-based study of literacy skills using any word list. (Thanks to Wendy Quinones for this lead.)

The website is super easy to use and your students can get practice with a vocabulary list that you (or your students) develop. In addition to reading and listening to the words and example sentences, they can test their spelling. (Note: Non-native speakers might run into some difficult example sentences. But have them Google definitions of new words they encounter!)

Here is one way you can use VocabularySpellingCity. Perhaps you introduced new words to the class before or during a reading. As you begin weaving together reading and writing, your next objective is for students to be able to produce the words in writing so that other classmates will be able read what was written. 
Lesson Idea:
  1. Before class, go to Type in some words and try out which of the free activities best match your student needs and your upcoming lesson.
  2. Ideally with a projector, show your class how to get to the site and model what you would like them to do once there.  For example, type five words and click the Spelling Test button or the Play A Game button.
  3. Have your students go to the website. As you slowly dictate the words, ask students to type each under “To Start, Try This!” Before they move forward, check to make sure they have spelled them correctly or write the words on the board for them or their partners to check.
  4. Then tell the students to put on headphones and to click one of the Free Activities buttons. If you are not sure which one you want them to enter first, start them with Spelling Test. They can receive more support when they get a word wrong. But make sure they don’t miss out on some of the game-based activities. (Ask students to stay with you and not go forward until the class has done at least one question together.)
  5. Walk around to see how students are doing and answer questions they might have, such as how to use the technology, what game to do next, or what the meaning of some words in the example sentences are.


View this screencast demonstrating this activity for more details. 
Do you have a favorite site for game-based vocabulary building? Tell us about it! What other ways might you use these games in the classroom?

Steve Quann was a proud staff member at World Education for many years. He was the past Director of the EdTech Center and now consults as an instructional designer on e-learning and mobile learning projects.

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