Vocabulary Basketball

A few weeks ago I had the idea to incorporate sports into a vocabulary review. Many of my students play basketball on a team and/or play at recess, so I incorporated basketball into our review. My son received this over the door basketball set for Christmas so we brought it to school one day. He told me to "make sure they don't break it, but you CAN show them how to dunk it." Although I didn't share my dunking skills, my fifth graders LOVED this!

I knew they'd notice the goal as soon as they walked in so I wrote a little message beside the board: "Are you ready for vocabulary basketball?"

It was a fun way to review vocabulary in an engaging way. We split into two teams. I had the vocabulary words written on the board and I'd call out definitions. If they told me the correct word, they earned 1 point for their team. Then, they could earn 2 points or 3 points by making a basket. I had ribbon on the floor to show what would count as 2 points vs. 3 points. They had a BLAST!

Most of our vocabulary words come from our read alouds, but most of the words in this unit were student generated. I kept a sheet of paper that students could add words to as they read independently. If they found a word they didn't know or one that they thought would be a good vocabulary word, they could write it down. 

Vocabulary review - basketball style - was a HIT! 


  1. Looks so fun! I am always looking for ways to get kids up and moving!!

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  2. LOVE THIS IDEA!!! I can't wait to use this in my class!

  3. I think this is a great idea to get kids excited about learning but more importantly, actually remembering their vocabulary words as well as what they mean. I think this idea would be great to use in the classroom.

  4. This is a great idea! My students are learning multiplication. I could use the basketball idea to help my kids practice their multiplication facts. They are always trying to toss their trash into the trash can as if it were a basketball. This would definitely be more fun than just using flashcards.

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  7. Looks like fun. Instead of the hoop, I may use a trash can. Thanks.

    1. I plan to do the same thing. This looks like fun, I have 4th, 5th, and 6th for vocab and I think they will all enjoy it! Thank you!!

  8. My mentor taught me to use a simplified version of this many years ago We put a clean liner in the trash barrel, gather 3 board erasers, mark off the foul line on the floor, and play. I use it for spelling too (spelling bee format).Correct word 1 point, "touch" 2 points, goal 3 points. For vocabulary I call out the word and if they can spell it and give its meaning, they get four points!

  9. Another idea if you don't have a basketball hoop is trashketball or sinketball where students use a crumpled up piece of paper that they store in their desk and make a shot into the sink if you have one in your classroom or a strategically placed trash can. This is good for all types of review.

  10. I have used this, too. I've used a garbage can and a small laundry basket but not too long ago I found a trashcan shaped like a basketball hoop and this is the only thing it's used for. I've had equal success with 8th graders and high school students. Oh, and the game can be used for anything, really, not just spelling and vocabulary. I've also used it to review grammar.

    1. I'm curious, how have you used it to review grammar?

    2. I'm curious, how have you used it to review grammar?

  11. I use this idea, but instead of a basketball and hoop, I hang an umbrella upside down, from the ceiling and allow the students to shoot wads of paper into the umbrella. Once the umbrella is full we empty it and recycle the paper.

  12. Where did you get the basketball goal from?

  13. Yes, where did the goal come from? Thanks!

  14. I'm going to try this in my Spanish classroom! Thanks!

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  16. I do something similar but with two nets. Format changes thoughout the year but we start with "el" on one backboard and "la" on the other; a word is called out in Spanish the first to get the ball in the appropriate net gets 1 point, says the word with the definite aricle and translates to English for another point. Later I use it with "Ser" and "Estar", "gusts" and "gustan" kids love it and I find it to be a very effective and fun way to learn!

  17. Do you have any idea where the basketball goal came from??

  18. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  21. I loved this idea! It is a fun way to get students into learning. Thank you for the idea, can't wait to use this in my future classroom!

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  31. I love this idea! As someone who grew up loving sports, this would have really got me engaged. I also like how the game does not only cater to those who play sports because points can be earned by getting the word correct. This will definitely be added to my list! Thank you for sharing!

  32. I love this idea and I think that kids would be su much more engaged with the use of the basketball!

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  38. Thank you for sharing this awesome way to engage my 5th graders. I'm going to give it a shot! :)

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