strategies banner

Word Whack


Students complete a statement or match a word to a description by slapping their hand on a word card.


  • Note cards, sticky notes, or notebook paper cut into rectangles
  • Sentences with words missing or prompts


  1. Organize students into thinking partners.
  2. Write 4-6 words on the board.
  3. Students create word cards and place them face-up on their desks.
  4. Present a sentence with a word missing or provide a description of one of the words.
  5. Say, “1-2-3 Word Whack!”
  6. Students whack their hand on the answer they think is correct.
  7. Students discuss their Word Whack response with their thinking partner by completing this stem: “I think the answer might be ____, and the clue words in the sentence were ____.” Allow students to change their minds after discussion.
  8. Observe students’ thinking and clarify/verify as appropriate.

Classroom Management

  • Role-play appropriate/inappropriate ways to whack the word cards and clarify behavior expectations.
  • Conduct a think-aloud as an example to show students how to make a guess and complete the response stem.
  • Remind students there will be no harm or humiliation for incorrect answers because correcting mistakes is a sign of intelligence!


  • Promote access by allowing a peer to help students make their word cards or by providing word cards.
  • Promote access by allowing the use of vocabulary journals, digital resources, and/or previewing the words.
  • Provide response support by offering response stems.

Think It Up!

  • Have students think more deeply about the concept by responding to a Think It Up prompt as an exit ticket or journal entry:
    • Select an incorrect response and make an inference about why a student might mistakenly choose it and the mistake it represents.
    • Develop a sentence using the correct word/phrase in a new context.
  • Encourage students to use lead4ward’s Thinking Stems (English/Spanish) to frame their responses, if needed.