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Using Games to Master the Mountain of Biology Vocabulary Words

Are your students struggling to master all the new biology terms and definitions we 
teach each day?

After teaching high school Biology for over 30 years, I know that one of the biggest problems my students are going to have in my class is mastering the mountain of new vocabulary words encountered each and every day.  When I talk to struggling biology students, they will usually tell me that they understand the concepts, and they understand "how and why" things work as they do, but they hate to memorize the vocabulary words.   In addition to learning new words and their meanings, the words are often hard to spell and hard to pronounce.  

In looking for ways to help my students, I quickly discovered that different styles of game play was the answer.  Students need a little fun and excitement in the classroom, and anytime you announce that you are about to play a game, even the most stubborn student will get excited.  In addition, students are naturally competitive with one another, and I found that they will study the vocabulary words in order to win a game!  Especially if there is a prize!  As a result, I developed vocabulary cards with corresponding definition cards that I call "Biology Buzz Words."

What is “Biology Buzz Words”?  The number of new science vocabulary words can be overwhelming to our students.  Practice and review in a game format is an excellent method of drilling and reinforcing the concepts and vocabulary.  Each set of "Biology Buzz Words" contains a list of vocabulary words and definitions that are found on a particular topic in a typical high school biology textbook.  The words and definitions are printed on separate cards.  Students will use these cards to play various games to help them master the vocabulary words.  At present, I have 17 different games that I play with my students.  The games include individual games, small group games and entire class games.  

  • Mix/Match Games
  • Catch Phrase style
  • 20 Questions style
  • I have / Who has
  • Pictionary style
  • Bingo
  • First Day instruction
  • Lab Stations
  • Bell Ringers / Warm Ups
  • Let's Talk About It
  • Vocabulary Game Show
  • Categories
  • Hot Seat
  • Concentration
  • Chalk It Up!

My students really enjoy these game format review sessions.  I have to be careful about the time it takes to play these games, though.  If my students had their way, we would be playing games every day!  For prizes, I use Jolly Rancher candies.  Believe me, middle and high school students will really study the vocabulary words in order to win a candy!

The types of game play are extremely versatile.  Make the game as easy or as hard as you want by selecting which vocabulary and definition cards you want to use.  The games can be tailored to meet the needs of any life science or biology class.  For an advanced class, use all of the vocabulary cards.  For a younger class, or a lower level class, choose only the vocabulary words that are appropriate for their level.  If your class contains students of widely varying ability levels, you can easily tailor the games for specific groups of students.  It is very easy to differentiate and customize instruction for a particular group of students by selecting the cards that are most appropriate for those students.

My Biology Buzz Word products come with a lot more than the vocabulary cards and the definition cards.  Check out the images below to see what is included with each product.

I have just begun to post these products to my TpT store.  The following are currently available, and many more will be coming soon.  Click on the links below for more information.