Hit or Miss

I enjoy playing games in the classroom. And I know my students do too, especially the young learners and teenagers (even though teachers of adult students know that many times adults really enjoy playing games too.)

I’ve recently bought a game called “Hit or Miss” to use with my students. The obvious main aim of the game is to review vocabulary, but I’ve thought of a couple of other pedagogical uses for it in the classroom. And I thought I’d share this game here, because I believe other teachers might like it too.


Before you play: The game contains cards with “HIT” written on big letter on one of the sides and “MISS” on the other. Each student gets a card. They also need paper to write on (and something to write with). There’s a box with hundreds of cards with categories on both sides. And a die with 2 faces with “HIT” written on, two others with “MISS” and e last two have a joker on it.

Playing the game: The teacher takes one of the category cards, reads the category to the students and they have 1 minute to write as many words that fit the category (the game comes with an hourglass). Categories are very varied; a few examples are pizza toppings, things you eat that are read, things made of plastic, etc. When the time is over, students stop writing and one of the students throws the die.
– If the student gets “HIT” on the die, he has to choose among the words he wrote the one word he believes most of the other students also wrote. The student says the word aloud and the others flip their cards: if they have also written the word they should leave the side with “HIT” up. The student who chose the word gets 1 point for each other student that also wrote the word.
– If the student gets “MISS” on the die, he has to choose among his words the one he thinks nobody else wrote. He gets one point for each student who didn’t write that word.
– If the student gets the joker he decides if he prefers to choose a “HIT” or a “MISS” word.

The next student rolls the die and the game continues.

I’m not sure it’s easy to buy this game here in Brazil (I bought it in the US), but I believe it’s easy to play it even without the die and cards. We can prepare category cards (or just say the category out loud). We can use a normal die and determine that odd numbers are “MISS” and even numbers “HIT”.

Besides the obvious fun the students had while playing the game, choosing the words and challenging the appropriateness of words within categories, it helped me make students’ thinking visible – to themselves and to me. We talked about the criteria they used to choose their words and the importance of background knowledge and experiences in that choice.

Variations: I have used the game like this with a high advanced adult group, and they had a lot of fun. With younger groups (of lower level) instead of taking a card from the category cards I said nothing’s from vocabulary groups we had studied before.

I can see this being used with pronunciation (rhyming syllables, words that end or start with the same sound, etc…). I can also imagine doing it by giving the students a sentence with a word missing and they have to write down words that would completed it appropriately.

Can anyone think of other ways we can use this game? I’d love to hear more ideas!


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Cecilia Lemos has been working with ELT since 1993 and is an Academic Coach for Educate Bilingual Program. She has worked a teacher trainer, writer, coordinator and teacher, presenting at local, national and international language teaching events. She’s a member of IATEFL’s Teacher Development SIG committee. Her main interests are feedback, correction and lesson observation.

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