Learning meanings of words is the first step of vocab instruction. Demonstrating new words through conversation and writing is a higher step.

Since I assess students’ vocabulary mastery through their writing, not multiple choice or matching, I’m always looking for fun and sneaky ways for students to practice their words. Today we tried out Refrigerator Sentences.

The concept is inspired by Refrigerator Poetry. Using Google Drawing, I made a couple dozen text boxes with various nouns, verbs, and prepositions. I also added three of our vocabulary words.

The goal: Use all the vocabulary words correctly in sentences in five minutes.

I copy/pasted the slide enough times so there was one slide for each student. I also wrote each student’s name at the top of each slide to avoid the conclusion of whose slide is whose.

And the whole activity went well! After five minutes, I was able to scroll through the slides, reading the sentences aloud, and pointing out minor errors or where a word might need added. It also gave me a few insights of where there was still some confusion of how a word could be used (for example, a person could emulate another person, but can’t really emulate an inanimate object.)

Even several minutes after the timer went off, some students still continued to play with the words.

And that’s the key concept I’m looking for. Play. Especially when I’m working with students who aren’t interested in school or who struggle with writing, refrigerator sentences is an easy way to get them to “write” sentences without actually writing them.

By using Google Drive, students can  add words or apostrophes as needed, so they don’t feel restricted, but by giving the a pool of words to start with, they don’t feel so threatened by a blank screen.

It’s definitely an activity I’ll be using again and again. Check out today’s work below: