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Space Dictionary Game

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By Peter Riley

An interactive dictionary game inviting children to match 30 Space-themed words to their definitions. Complete with printable dictionary.


In this interactive dictionary game, players are presented with an alphabetical list of 30 words – all related to the topic of Space.

Clicking on a word will give three possible definitions. The alternative answers are designed to promote discussion.

A complete list of the words and their definitions, with usual dictionary conventions, is provided as an answer sheet/printable dictionary.

Sharing learning and teaching

Before using the resource

  • Challenge the class to create their own list of Space-related words. Discuss how to present this as a dictionary or glossary and define some of the words.
  • Discuss whether it is best to read all the instructions before playing a new game or to learn as you go along.

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 their meanings.

Sharing the resource

  • Share read the introduction – ‘How to play’. Discuss the presentation and the use of the imperative. Pick out the key instructions to get started.
  • Play the game as a whole class: each group choosing a word and suggesting a definition, while others discuss if they agree providing reasons to support their views.
  • Demonstrate how to check answers by clicking on the hyperlinks.


  • Compare some of the definitions with the children’s attempts. Had they defined familiar words in a clear, concise manner?
  • What strategies did groups use to choose which word to define? How did they use their phonic and graphemic knowledge to help them pronounce any unknown words?
  • Pronounce unfamiliar words by breaking them into syllables, remembering that each syllable includes a vowel phoneme. Discuss when the vowel is stressed or unstressed.

Key learning outcomes:

  • To select words and 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.

Dictionary games

This is the third in our Literacy Time PLUS Key Stage 2 interactive dictionary game series. Previous games include:

Ancient Egyptian Dictionary Game Literacy Time PLUS for ages 7 to 9, Issue 56, November 2007

Olympic Dictionary Game Literacy Time PLUS for ages 9 to 11, Issue 53, May 2008.

Group and individual work

  • Allow a group to continue playing. Encourage them to consider strategies for deciding on their answers, and working as a group.
  • Challenge more able students to research unusual words to find their derivation: origin and root. Can they find other words with the same root? For example, nebula/nebuliser/nebulous – derived from the Greek word for ‘mist’.
  • List compound words that include ‘tele’ (from the Greek for ‘far off’) or ‘scope’ (from the Greek for ‘look at’).
  • Create a spelling game with three different grapheme choices for a word – eg, meatier, meetiore, meteor. Players have to justify their spelling choice.
  • Using the internet, add words to the list, creating alternative definitions. Write these words and definitions on cards to be read to the rest of the class.
  • Create new versions of the game with words specific to the children’s hobbies and interests – or other classroom topics.
  • Encourage use of the new vocabulary in the children’s factual writing about Space.
  • Give a less able group some of the words and definitions printed on card and ask them to find ways to sort them.
  • Use the activity sheet below to reinforce the learning of new vocabulary, derivations, morphology and etymology.


  • Share the list of ‘tele/scope’ words. Think of other words for a similar list.
  • Play a reverse version of the game: give a definition and ask which word it defines.
  • Challenge the class to find other words in their reading to add to the dictionary.
  • Give three plausible spelling choices for individual words from the list and ask the class to pick the correct one, giving reasons for their choice.