On a turbulent plane flight home not too long ago, I decided to spend some time organizing the many apps on my phone and discovered quite a few that I didn’t even realize I had. Looking for a way to keep my mind preoccupied as the plane bounced through the air, I played a game that I hadn’t yet tried called, 4 pics 1 word. This game is played exactly as you would imagine from the title. Four picture clues are displayed and you try to figure out what word connects them all. As I often do when I play games, I started to think about how this game could connect to learning and the various ways I could adapt and bring it into the classroom.
SOME IDEAS THAT COULD BE ADAPTED TO ANY CLASSROOM
Connect the Four
Find four pictures that connect to each of your vocabulary words in the unit. Each day of the unit, place four pictures on the screen that are associated to one of your unit vocabulary words as students come into class. The entire class tries to figure out the word before the timer runs out. You could also have students solve individually or on teams.
To make it slightly easier, you could add blank spaces on the bottom of the screen to indicate how many letters are in the word that the pictures have in common. You could also give the students a hint such as: 13 letter lock. Or, fill in some of the blanks such as: __v__t____tes.
You guessed it! The answer to this clue is, "Invertebrates".
IDEAS FOR VARIOUS CONTENT AREAS
Four pictures that connect to a historical event.
Four math formulas that all connect to the same solution.
Four elements that belong to a group in the periodic table.
Four pictures that connect to a novel.
Four pictures that connect to a recipe.
Four pictures that connect to a type of design style.
Four pictures of musicians or songs that connect to a music genre.
Four artists or works of art that connect to art genre or era.
VARIATIONS OF GAME PLAY
Variation 1: Set a timer for 3 minutes and have students work in teams to figure out the common word before time runs out. In a gamified class, you could give XP or other classroom currency to teams that solved the clues in time. You could give each team a buzzer to indicate when they solved the clues.
Variation 4: Create a Google form and upload an image of 4 related pictures for each question. Using a short answer response and response validation, create a digital escape that leads to a bonus challenge or quest if unlocked.
LET KIDS CREATE THE CLUES!
Now let's flip this idea around! What if students came up with the picture clues? Assign each student or team a word and a slide number in a Google Slide deck and have them come up with four pictures that connect to the word. You could use these picture slides as openers or questions in digital games such as Kahoot, Quizlet Live, Gimkit, Quizizz, or Quizalize. Or, give each team a bank of words and they create their own digital games using the picture combinations.
THE BENEFITS ARE NUMEROUS!
Learning Sticks: When students connect images to vocabulary it helps make the learning stick. Because students are trying to find common characteristics and connections between the words the likelihood that the vocabulary word will cement in their long term memory is even greater. When you reverse it and have students make the connections by finding the pictures themselves, that increases the stickiness even more!
Critical Thinking Skills: It takes a lot of problem solving and logic to find common threads of meaning in the pictures to solve the clues. Whether they are solving the puzzle or creating it, logic and problem solving are needed!
Vocabulary Acquisition: The ultimate goal of the picture puzzles is the learning of new vocabulary. What better way to learn vocabulary than connecting the word to images?! Additionally, when students are creating the puzzles the acquisition is strengthened even more.
Perseverance: The productive struggle that occurs when students are solving puzzles is powerful! Helping develop student's ability to keep going when learning is hard is important. When you bring this into an experience that is challenging and fun, it motivates the learner to not give up when frustration sets in.
Accomplishment: Nothing beats the sense of accomplishment when a puzzle is solved! Couple that with a shared team experience, and wonderful memories and bonds are made!
Fun: Joyful, playful learning makes learning memorable and meaningful! The more we can bring fun into learning, the more learning becomes enjoyable. When students love learning, it becomes something they want to continue far beyond the time spent in our classrooms.
The possiblilities for bringing word clues into your learning environment are endless! I'd love to hear your ideas! Please share! Let's make learning magical together!
Tech Integration Specialist in Southern Oregon and author of Make Learning Magical. I'm passionate about finding innovative ways to transform teaching and create unforgettable experiences in the classroom.