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Winning Words

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By Kay Clifford — Early Years Leader and adult tutor

This game, for two to four players, encourages children to think of alternative words or phrases which can be used to describe athletes. As they move round the track, they must try to swap the adjectives, verbs and phrases they land on for ones with similar meanings. They must also consider whether they think the words or phrases are positive or negative descriptions.


Playing the game

  • Decide who will run in each lane of the track and place the counters on the ‘Start’ in each of the four lanes. The lanes have an equal number of words and action spaces.
  • To decide who will start first, roll the dice and see who gets the highest number or, for fun, see who can do the most star jumps in 30 seconds. The person with the highest number begins!
  • The first player should roll the dice and move that number of spaces.
  • If the player lands on a word or phrase, they must decide what it means and try to think of other words that mean the same. Encourage them to use a thesaurus to find alternative words.
  • The rest of the group has to agree with their suggestion, or use a thesaurus to check if they disagree with the suggestion.

Previous learning

The children should be able to use thesauruses (both paper-based and computer-based) to help them find alternative words.


You will need a dice, a counter for each player, and a thesaurus. Read through the words on the track with the children before they start the game as some of the words may be difficult for them to read.

  • Next, the player must decide whether this word or phrase describes an athlete in a positive way. If it does, they move on an extra place. If it describes the athlete in a negative way they have to go back one place.
  • When a player lands on a space with an instruction, they have to read it and follow the instruction.
  • When a player lands on a blank place they can have a rest!
  • The winner is the first player to cross the finish line.

Key learning outcomes:

Year 1

To find and use new and interesting words and phrases.

Year 2

To explore how particular words are used, including words and expressions with similar meanings;

To explore synonyms.

Using the activity sheet

The children can use this sheet to record the words they land on and the synonyms they find for them.



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