Vocabulary Games

Select from our library of ready-to-assign vocabulary sets or easily build your own!

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Looking to strengthen your students’ vocabulary? Zinc’s vocabulary games are an extensive resource for teaching new words and strengthening retention. We have a massive collection of searchable vocabulary sets made by Zinc and also by teachers like you.

Teachers can easily assign vocabulary games to individual students or an entire class. You have the option to add spaced repetition to help students engage with word sets over a longer period of time. For bilingual and ESL contexts, we even have vocabulary sets with Spanish support. If you would like to create your own custom vocabulary game sets, you can do it quickly and easily with our comprehensive word database.

What are Zinc’s Vocabulary Games?

A vocabulary game is an activity where students complete various challenges to reinforce vocabulary learning. Students may self-select a vocabulary game or be assigned one by a teacher. Teachers may assign individual vocabulary sets to a student, or they may include a vocabulary game with an article assignment. Vocabulary games can be completed during class or as homework activities.

Each vocabulary game includes a set of words. If there are more than 10 words in the set, they are divided into "decks" of 10 words or fewer. Sets may be created by Zinc or a teacher for a specific topic, or they may be related to a specific article. Article vocabulary may be included with an article assigned on its own or part of Lift Off.

Whether a student selects a vocabulary game or clicks on one that's been assigned to them, they'll be taken to the vocabulary page in Zinc. There they can click the orange "play button" to get started. They first review the words and play through different game modes: Image, Synonym, Sentence, and Definition. Students may play different combinations of these modes in the obstacle course mode.

Students will see different activities inside a vocabulary game depending on the options their teacher chooses at the time of assignment. Teachers may also choose to give the student multiple exposures to the vocabulary words over a longer time period using spaced repetition.

Finding Vocabulary Sets to Assign

To reach the Vocabulary Games page, click “Assign Activities” in the top menu on your Zinc homepage and then click “Vocabulary.”

On the vocabulary page, you have many options for sorting through our comprehensive collection of vocabulary sets.

To choose between the source of the sets, click the “All” dropdown menu. This allows you to decide if you would like to view sets created by Zinc or other teachers. You may also choose to only view vocabulary sets you create yourself.

Click the “Select Grade Level” to sort through vocabulary sets by grade level in elementary, middle school, etc. These sets may include those created by Zinc, teachers, or yourself.

Under the “Find Sets You Need” menu, you’ll find Zinc sets that meet a variety of needs like specific books, themes, and test prep. You can also sort by curriculum, including SpringBoard, AP, and more. Click on an option to further narrow your search.

On a specific set, you have the options to View, Assign, or Print. Click “Assign” to begin assigning a vocabulary game to a class or student. Click “Print” to print or create a PDF of the set’s words and their definitions. Clicking “View” allows you to see the details of the set, including which words are included, and provides an option to edit the set. The View page also includes the options to Assign or Print the set along with a list of the vocabulary.

Once you've found a vocabulary game that meets your classroom needs, we recommend using Zinc's bookmark feature to save the game for future use. You can bookmark any vocabulary set by clicking the yellow "bookmark" icon in the top-right corner of the vocabulary set's title card or at the top of the vocabulary set's page by the title.

Assigning Vocabulary Games

Zinc offers two primary ways to assign vocabulary to students. One way is to include vocabulary in an article assignment, which you can also add to a Lift Off assignment. This type of vocabulary will be explained fully in the articles related to those features. Here we will discuss how to assign a vocabulary set on its own.

First, click “Assign” on the vocabulary set’s title card viewed on the main vocabulary page. You can also click “Assign” on the page you reach after clicking “View” on a vocabulary set’s title card.

Once you’ve clicked “Assign,” a pop-up will appear. Select whether you want to assign the set to an entire class or class or to a specific student or students. The class option will bring up a drop-down menu of your classes. If you choose to assign to individual students, begin typing the name of a student in the box. You can add multiple of either option, but you cannot mix students and classes at the same time. If you wish to assign the same set to both entire classes and individual students, you will need to send those assignments out separately.

Please keep in mind that students may only be assigned the same vocabulary deck once at a time. If they already have an ongoing assignment, they cannot be assigned it again until they complete the assignment or it’s canceled by the teacher who assigned it.

Along with your selection of students or classes, you may add a note. The note could communicate expectations, due dates, or special instructions. Any student who receives the assignment will also see anything you include in the note.

The last assignment option on this initial page is whether to designate the assignment as an “In Class Assignment” or as a “Homework Assignment.” This has no effect on the assignment, but it will communicate to students when you would like them to work on the vocabulary.

Clicking “Next” will take you to the second and final page of the vocabulary assignment options. First, decide if you want the “Same settings for all students” or “Different settings for different students.” This allows you to tailor the rest of the assignment options for specific students.

With the next option, choose whether or not to assign with spaced repetition. Please see the spaced repetition section of this page for full details. By default, this option is turned off.

The next option is whether or not to “Force student to restart deck after incorrect answer.” This option is turned on by default. Left on, it causes a student to restart the current phase of the deck of words if a mistake is made, giving them a chance to repeat the phase without making any mistakes. If you uncheck this box, it is also known as “Fast Mode,” an alternative to our classic gameplay mode. Removing the need to restart is easier for students at first, with the word bank open by default. However, it grows more challenging as the game continues. In this mode, students aren't required to restart a game if they get a single question wrong; rather, they can keep going until they get all questions right. To reflect this, students score 60% of what they would if they played in the original mode with the second and third boxes checked.

The final option for vocabulary is whether to play with a timer, which is turned on by default. When the timer is active, students have 30 seconds to complete each screen in the vocabulary game. This is generally enough time for engaged students to consider the answers and choose one. In the default mode, letting the timer run down will cause the game to restart. If “Fast Mode” is enabled with the timer, students will continue to face more challenging questions even if the timer runs out.

If the timer and restart option are both turned off, students will have an unlimited amount of time to answer each question and they will not need to restart the set if they get a question incorrect.

If you’ve chosen to give each student different options for their assignment, each student will have a row with the options we’ve just explained. You can choose which students have spaced repetition, restarts, and a timer.

Once you have chosen all of your assignment options for your class or individuals, you may click “Assign.” All eligible students will receive the assignment. The system will tell you if any of the students are unable to receive the assignment. A student will be ineligible for a vocabulary game assignment if they have started the vocabulary set on their own or if they’ve been given an assignment that has not expired, been completed, or been canceled.

Cancelation and Expiration of Vocabulary Assignments

You can cancel a vocabulary assignment you’ve created at any time. You may only cancel vocabulary assignments you have made for a student, not those assignments created by others.

Vocabulary assignments without spaced repetition will expire two months after being assigned. If spaced repetition is included, the assignment will expire four months after being assigned.

Students Choosing Their Own Vocabulary Sets

Students can access vocabulary games by clicking on "Explore Activities" in the top Zinc menu and then clicking on "Vocabulary." They have access to a page similar to the teacher’s vocabulary page, where they can search and sort for vocabulary sets on their own. Students may complete a vocabulary set as often as they’d like. If they’ve previously begun a vocabulary set, they must complete it before they can start it again or be assigned the same vocabulary set.

Vocabulary with Spanish Support

Some Zinc vocabulary sets include Spanish support. This means that students practice these English words with the help of definitions, synonyms, and example sentences in Spanish. They can play all four modes within the vocabulary game: Sentence, Definition, Synonym, and Image. The vocabulary word remains in English throughout the activities.

You can identify vocabulary sets with Spanish translations by the "ES" icon, as seen below. This indicates that all vocabulary words in the set have Spanish support.

When assigning a set that has a Spanish support option, you can assign it to your class or to individual students. If you're assigning the set to an entire class, you can differentiate for students who benefit from Spanish support by checking the "With Spanish Supports" box. The rest of your class will receive the assignment in English.

If you have accidentally assigned vocabulary with Spanish support, this option may not be changed. You will need to cancel the assignment and assign it again with the Spanish support.

Spaced Repetition

For increased retention and internalization of vocabulary, Zinc recommends assigning vocabulary games with spaced repetition for non-article vocabulary sets.

In spaced repetition, students learn and review each word during six exposures over a two-month period. Each exposure consists of two or more gameplay modes (Image, Sentence, Synonym, or Definition). To facilitate long-term memory, the time between each exposure increases as students progress.

During spaced repetition, a student must wait the designated length of time between exposures. They will be notified on their Zinc homepage when the next exposure is available. The chart below shows the length of time between each of the six exposures.

Please note that vocabulary assignments with spaced repetition cannot be edited once they have been assigned. However, you may cancel a vocabulary lesson at any time. Once a vocabulary lesson is canceled, you may reassign it with the same or different options.

Vocabulary Reports

Vocabulary progress may be traced for classes and individual students in Zinc using a variety of useful methods. Please refer to the Reports page for a full explanation of tracking your students and their vocabulary learning in Zinc.

Creating Your Own Vocabulary Games

Teachers can create their own vocabulary games to assign. This can be done quickly and easily, because Zinc already has the words in the system. You just need to choose which words you would like to include in your vocabulary set, and Zinc will automatically generate the vocabulary games for your students.

To create a vocabulary set, go to the vocabulary page by clicking “Assign Activities” in the top menu on your Zinc homepage and then click “Vocabulary.” On the vocabulary page, click “Create New Set.”

To create a vocabulary set, you must provide a small amount of information on three pages. On the first page, you must name the set and choose one or more grade levels it might be used to teach. Select one or more content categories related to the vocabulary set, and provide a short description.

On the second page, choose whether you will paste in text and have Zinc automatically identifier words from a block of pasted text or manually add your list of words.

If you choose the option to "Paste in some text," you will see the page below. Copy and page the text you plan to use in class and click "Next."

On the next page, seen below, you may select up to 100 words from the text you uploaded. Once you’ve selected the words of your choice, click “Create Set.”

If you choose the option to "Manually add my own list of words," you will be taken to the page below. Simply begin typing or copying and pasting the words you would like to add. Once you’ve added the words you need, click “Create Set.”

Once you’ve created a set, you may assign the vocabulary game to your students. Once a set has been created, it cannot be directly edited or deleted. This is done to avoid conflicts with students who have already been assigned the set. However, you may click “Edit” on the page of any vocabulary set you’ve created, and you’ll be able to change the details and save a copy of that set. We recommend naming it something specific, such as “The Great Gatsby vocabulary v1.1” in order to tell it apart from the previous version.

We hope this article has encouraged you to utilize Zinc vocabulary games with your students. Follow this link to the Zinc vocabulary page and get started!

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