Vocabulary Game: "Mother May I" Use a Vocabulary Word?
One of my favorite games growing up was “Mother, May I” where participants took turns asking the “Mother” if s/he could step forward in a certain style (ballet twirl, giant step, march etc). The first one to “Mother” won!
Well today I’m thinking my new vocabulary strategy is to have students play this as a vocabulary game in the classroom.
I would model first with a group of five students (the teacher playing the role “Mother”), then have those five volunteers each become the “Mother” for a group of 4-6 (depending on the size of your class).
Here’s how to play:
As long as the student uses a vocabulary word correctly in asking to take a step forward, s/he is allowed to step (no playing favorites). However, the size of the steps should be uniform –establish the size with your class ahead of time to avoid problems with classroom management when students break out into smaller groups. Also, during a single round, only one student can use each word to avoid all students simply reiterating the same question.
Finally, for even further vocabulary building, instead of playing “Mother May I” as an isolated game, have a day (or a week, or make this a classroom habit) where students must invoke a vocabulary word any time they want to move.
If students have to sharpen their pencils, they must first ask, “Teacher, I would prefer a sharp pencil-may I move to the sharpener?”
If they volunteer to use the Smartboard, before they can head to the front of the classroom, they must ask to do so: “I am somewhat restless-please allow me to walk to the front of the room and use the Smartboard.”
If you have time- you can dismiss students for specials, recess or lunch by requiring them to use a vocabulary word asking for permission to leave. The more creative (and vocabulary filled) the request, the more zany they can act on the way out the door.
I think this game can work at any age, so know that is it a great vocabulary activity for middle school students-and even high school students-in addition to being a fun elementary vocabulary game; it makes teaching vocabulary and learning vocabulary so much fun!
Common Core Standards (Using 3rd grade standards which can be scaled up or down)
Language Standard 3.1. Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking.
Language Standard 3.3. Use knowledge of language and its conventions when writing, speaking, reading, or listening.
Language Standard 3.5. Demonstrate understanding of figurative language, word relationships and nuances in word meanings.
Language Standard 3.6. Acquire and use accurately grade-appropriate conversational, general academic, and domain-specific words and phrases…
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