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Great At-Home Learning Game for Vocabulary Language Practice and Terminology Review – Codenames

  • Codenames, a super popular family and party game for 4 or more players played in teams.
  • Codenames is a great resource for at-home learning to review terminology and to practice language vocabulary.
  1. Overview of game
  2. How to play example
  3. How to use Codenames for at-home learning
  4. Get the game and the sleeves to design your own at-home learning game with Codenames

Overview of Codenames

As an educator, I love games that can easily be transferred into a learning environment. Czech Games Edition games have made some fantastic games that I have had the opportunity to use in my classes. One of those games is Codenames. This is a great game that you can use at home with your kids for at-home learning.

“This is a great game that you can use at home with your kids for at-home learning.”

Read about the game below, or check out a video on YouTube for an overview on how to use Codenames for at-home learning!

Codenames is a great team-based party and family game. In Codenames, you play as a team of spies and you must communicate in secret with your teammates by giving word association clues. The gist of it goes like this: I want you to guess apple, so I give a clue like red. Easy, right? Well, Codenames gets a little tricky because there might be a world like, rose, on the board, and if your team guesses rose, you lose! Let me give a full overview of the game.

Example of Play

You get into teams and then choose a spymaster. The spymaster will sit at the end of the table and have access to the key card that tells the spymaster what codenames need to be used to win. The red team will need to have their team guess the red codenames, and the blue team will need to have their team guess the blues ones. Be careful! The black codename is the assassin, and if that word is guessed by your team, your team loses. Take a look at the example below.

For example, in the image above, I am the red spymaster. I can see the grid (top of the image) and I notice that I need my team to guess the words, “table” and “server”, however, the black word (or assassin) is “knife.” If my team guesses the black word, our team automatically loses! So, a bad clue would be “restaurant”, since my team will likely associate the word “restaurant” with “table,” “server,” AND “knife!” We would lose! I might want to give a better clue like, “waiter.” The clue I give would be “two – waiter.” In this case, my team knows my clue matches TWO words from the 5×5 grid. I am hoping my team associates the word on the board “server” with my clue “waiter.” Then, they may have to have a debate between the second word they should choose. If they are unsure, they may pass. For a more detailed explanation of the rules and how to play the game check out Czech Games Edition’s How-to-Play Video.

How to Use Codenames for At-Home Learning

So, now that we know a bit about how to play, I want to talk about the implications for learning with Codenames. You can check out the video above for a more detailed explanation about using Codenames for at-home learning.

For language learning, the game makes an excellent choice. We recorded a podcast episode on Board Gaming with Education with resources for teachers and students to use in their classrooms. It gives you some guidelines on how to play, phrases you can use when playing the game, and an example playthrough. It is perfect for any language learners because the audio is adapted for language learning.

“For language learning, the game makes an excellent choice.”

In my personal experience, I have used Codenames to practice my Chinese when I was living in Taiwan. It was an excellent introductory game to develop vocabulary because your language output, meaning times that you are required to speak, is low. When I played the host had written the Chinese translations directly on the cards. It was great for eliciting previous vocabulary words I had learned and for learning new ones. In the example below, I set up Codenames for learning Spanish. I will have a link below where you can get the sleeves needed and Codenames to set up your own language learning experience.

“What’s awesome about the game is that you can use it for different disciplines to review terminology.”

So, that’s for language learning. What’s awesome about the game is that you can use it for different disciplines to review terminology. Also, if you’re a school, or an at-home parent or teacher, then using Codenames to review terminology is excellent too. Again, you’ll need the sleeves and to write in some of your own words. Let me know what ways you come up with using Codenames.

Get what you need to learn at home!

Note: you will need two packs of sleeves.

Be sure to check out other editions of Codenames!

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