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Olympic Dictionary Game

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By Alison Milfordauthor and poet

This interactive, ‘Call my Bluff’-style dictionary game allows children to define 30 words related to the ancient and modern Olympic Games. Clicking on a word will give three possible definitions. Choosing the correct or incorrect answer will produce a different sound. A complete dictionary of all the words and definitions, with usual dictionary conventions, is provided as an answer sheet.


Sharing learning and teaching


  • In pairs, think of words related to the Olympic Games. Share the lists and ask for definitions. Discuss creating a glossary or dictionary.
  • Explain the rules of ‘Call My Bluff’ – one word with three definitions. The aim is to find the correct meaning.

Sharing the resource

  • Share read the introduction – ‘How to play’. Note the imperative. Pick out the key instructions to get started.
  • Divide the class into teams, each choosing a spokesperson. Play in turn as a class: each group choosing a word and suggesting a definition, while others discuss if they agree. Give reasons to back up views.
  • Demonstrate how to check answers.

Previous learning

Children need to: have knowledge of phonics, morphology and etymology to spell new and unfamiliar words; know and apply common spelling rules; be able to group and classify words according to their spelling patterns and meanings.

Further resources

Literacy Time Ages 7 to 9, Issue 56 (November 2007) featured an interactive Ancient Egyptian Dictionary Game.


  • What strategies did groups use to choose which word to define? Which words were the easiest and which were unfamiliar? What strategies did they use to pronounce some of the unknown words?
  • Do they recognise words from other contexts? Eg, luge from skateboarding.
  • What strategies did they use to help them guess definitions? How does their morphological knowledge help?
  • Discuss the words’ origins – most are from ancient Greece but where are slalom; luge and taekwondo from?
  • After checking the correct meaning, can links between the word’s spelling and its meaning be found?
  • Examine the alphabetical order.
  • Note the dictionary abbreviations (eg, n_, _pl, adj). How do they aid understanding of the definitions? Some nouns can also be verbs (eg, relay) with changes in vowel stress eg, a relay (n) (stressed ‘e’) and to relay (v) (stressed ‘a’).
  • Discuss different meanings of words in different contexts – eg, curling hair.

Key learning outcomes:

To use language for comic and dramatic effects;

To select words/language drawing on knowledge of literary features;

To adapt sentence construction to text type and purpose;

To understand the process of decision making;

To be able to employ a range of strategies to spell difficult and unfamiliar words;

To explore how word meanings change when used in different contexts;

To use ICT programs.

Group and individual work

  • Challenge more able children to research unusual words to find their derivation: origin and root. Can they find other words with the same root?
  • Highlight words that can be changed by adding prefixes (eg, bi, hept, pent) and suffixes (eg, -ian, -ist, -ium). Make different words using root words.
  • Allow a group to continue playing. Encourage them to consider how they use strategies, decide on answers and work as a group.
  • Using the internet, add to the list and create alternative definitions. Practise good handwriting by writing these on cards to be read out to the class.
  • Create new versions of the game with words specific to the children’s hobbies or interests.
  • Check understanding of the new vocabulary by using the words in writing about the Olympic Games.
  • Give a less able group the words and definitions printed on card. Ask them to devise ways to sort them.
  • Use the activity sheet to reinforce the learning of new vocabulary and definitions.


  • Discuss how useful the game was. Did they enjoy playing it?
  • Play a reverse version of the game where you give the definition and ask which word it defines.
  • Ask those who researched unusual words to share their findings.
  • Play a quick fire ‘Spellcheck’ game where children have to spell out the unusual words from from memory. Present a kotinos to the winner!