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Using Painted Jenga Blocks for A Fun Vocabulary Game


Amazon is my go-to app for just about everything online shopping! I mean, I’ve even ordered groceries using Amazon Pantry and it’s amazing, speedy and super convenient.  One of the things I absolutely love about Amazon is their Amazon Prime Service. Seriously, if you are not a Prime member, you are missing out on next-day shipping and for me, it’s soooo worth it!

Let me tell you about a fun vocabulary game using colored wooden blocks I ordered from Amazon called Lewo Tumbling Tower.  As Marzano says, “Games are the most underutilized educational resource” and when I read that, I thought, we need to do something about this! Kids love games, but kids don’t always love learning things in the same old routine ways.  When you add the GAME spin to learning, kids have a whole new buy-in. Kids love to play in general, and no matter how old you are, games are always fun, no matter what people say. 


Vocabulary Jenga is a game to reinforce Tier 3 vocabulary. Tier 3 vocabulary is content-specific, only read and used when learning about THAT content. In other words, when you’re in SCIENCE class, you might use words like photosynthesis or ecosystem, but more that likely, you won’t use those words in everyday conversation.  Learning content area words are KEY for content knowledge and understanding, and learning important concepts like electricity, life cycles and properties of matter. Content area vocabulary knowledge also helps them grow as readers and writers too, because these words are often multisyllabic and contain Greek and Latin word parts that help them solve new words.  Marzano says that students need to learn 6-9 content area words per subject per quarter. (See my blog post about Marzano’s 6 Steps for Vocabulary Instruction). Step 6 is GAMES.  Games that practice and reinforce the vocabulary words in a fun and engaging way.  And Vocabulary Jenga does just that. Not to mention that it’s best played in pairs and within a group of students.  I always love games that also work on the soft skills of the 21st century…like communication, cooperation, following the rules, and praising one another even if you don’t win. (See my Praise Phrases if you want to encourage your students to praise each other with immediate positive feedback.)


Once the teacher prints the Jenga Vocabulary sheet and writes in 6 content area vocabulary words, students work in pairs to cooperatively complete the whole sheet as a team.  It's actually really fun to play this game in whole group teams to see which team can complete their sheet first and accurately.  Complete directions and free download are HERE.




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Jen is a K-12 Reading Specialist, Curriculum Writer and Staff Developer and author of the website, Hello Literacy, Inc. She lives in Raleigh, NC with her husband and two daughters. She provides professional development to schools and districts all over the country in best practices for 21st century literacy instruction. If your school or district is in need of professional development in literacy, please email her at jenjones@helloliteracy.com  Her curriculum resources are available at www.hellojenjones.com.  

*Disclaimer: Jen Jones is not affiliated with Amazon, nor is she receiving any money or gifts for promoting this product.


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New Year, New Show: Guided Reading Live Video PD Series



Happy New Year to everyone out there in the Hello Literacy community!  I wanted to give you an update on everything I've been up to for the last few months...since some of you devoted blog readers might be thinking that I may have dropped off the face. I haven't. I am alive. Well. And, thriving...just not on this platform.  I am very committed to you, and I appreciate all your support over the last eight years since I started this blog, but like the times and technology are changing, so is my method of delivering the majority of my literacy content to you.

Read below to hear about my Facebook Live PD Series.

My goal for 2017 is to write much shorter blog posts...micro-blogging it's called.  If you really want to hang out with me all the time, come on over to Instagram, where I post literacy and life pictures everyday and create daily videos on Instagram called Stories. So here's how to find me on Instagram, search @hellojenjones and click FOLLOW.  Instagram works best on a mobile device, but you can also view Instagram posts on a computer, too.


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Then, you can also find me on Facebook at Hello Literacy. The direct address is www.facebook.com/helloliteracy or just type Hello Literacy into the Facebook search box. It's that easy. In addition to posting articles, ideas and literacy research, I have been doing a lot of live video broadcasting...which is the next big thing is social media.  Maybe you're not used to talking into a camera, but I am, and I'm loving it.




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Reading Workshop: Q&A from the Hello Literacy Inbox


September 17, 2016

Hi Jen!

I have followed you for a long time and have always been inspired by your work.

I have been teaching for the last eight years and am entering my first year in third grade. I'm wondering if you can help me...



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