Vocabulary Baseball Game

Are you looking for fun ways to review vocabulary? This vocabulary game can be played with all ages and levels. It may last a whole week or just 15 minutes. Keep score as your students work through nine innings. Unlike real baseball, no equipment (and no running) is necessary!

Setting Up

  • Clear a space in your classroom for two teams to sit across from each other with a space in the middle. Students can sit on desks or on the floor.
  • Write numbers 1–9 on a corner of the board.
  • Have your class shout out nine themes or topics in English and write them next to the numbers.

You could also choose the themes yourself. Use topics from Sprout’s Spotlight lessons. For example: House, Body, Spring, Injuries, School, The Face, Kitchen, Animals, Jobs

Choosing the Teams

  • Separate your class into two teams. Have each group choose a baseball team name.
  • Make a scoreboard with the team names on it.
  • Help each team write down a batting order. The batting order will be the students’ first names in alphabetical order. The students should sit in their batting order.

Playing the First Inning

  • Flip a coin to decide which team will “pitch” first. Just like in baseball, one team will be “up at bat” while the other team is “in the outfield.” The team that wins the coin toss will “bat” first.
  • The first person on the outfield side will stand up and be the first pitcher. The pitcher can choose any category from the list on the board to start the first inning (e.g., Food).
  • The first batter from the other team (based on the batting order) will stand up too. The batter will face the pitcher.
  • The pitcher will shout any word he can think of from the first category. (e.g., apple). The batters will take turns trying to get bring this word “home” to score a point. The batter will step forward as he or she takes a turn.

Batter 1: Gives the part of speech (noun, verb, etc.)
Batter 2: Spells the word.
Batter 3: Gives a definition.
Batter 4: Uses the word in a sentence.

Example: Scoring a home run

Pitcher: The category for the first inning is “Food.” The first word is “apple.”
Batter 1 (steps forward): noun (stays standing because it’s correct)
Batter 2 (steps forward): a-p-p-l-e (stays standing)
Batter 3 (steps forward): An apple is a kind of fruit with a peel. (stays standing)
Batter 3 (steps forward): Apples are juicy. (stays standing)
Umpire: Home run! (Gives the team a point)

Example: Striking out

Pitcher: The category for the first inning is “Food.” The first word is “apple.”
Batter 1 (steps forward): noun (stays standing)
Batter 2 (steps forward): a-p-l-e (X) (sits at the back of the line)
Batter 3 (steps forward): a-p-e-l (X) (sits the back of the line)
Batter 3 (steps forward): a-p-p-l-e (stays standing)
Batter 4: I don’t know apple. (X) (sits at the back of the line)
Umpire: That’s three strikes. You’re out! (The teams switch sides and the inning continues until the other team gets three strikes.)

Keeping Score

You, the umpire (teacher), decide if an answer is acceptable (to score a “run”) or not (to receive a “strike”). When a student can’t guess or guesses incorrectly, place an X on the board for one strike. The student who gets a strike goes to the back of the batting lineup and sits down. The students who guessed correctly remain standing until a fourth student can bring them home for a point. Not every point will be scored by a “home run.” It may take a few words before four students are standing.

After a team gets four correct answers to complete the word to score a point, a new pitcher comes up and shouts a new word from the same category.

After three strikes, the teams switch sides. The new pitcher shouts a new word from the same category (it’s still the first inning).

The play continues on one theme until both batting teams gets three strikes. Cross out the used category before a new inning begins.

Winning the Game

In the second and subsequent innings, the new pitcher shouts a word from a different category. The play continues (whenever you have some spare class time) until nine innings have been played and you can declare a winning team. Bring in some popcorn to celebrate!

Optional Catcher

Allow teams to use a “catcher” for each inning if they find it too difficult to get four correct guesses before three strikes. A catcher can jump in and offer an answer if the batter can’t (only one save per word). Don’t allow your students to use the same catcher every time.

You may also want to try this week’s Spotlight lesson: Baseball – Simple Present Reading. We also have a Baseball coloring page.


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Tara Benwell

Tara Benwell is a freelance writer and editor who specializes in materials and articles for the ELT industry. She is the media director and head writer for ESL-Library, and a contributor to its sister site Sprout English. Tara is the author of an iPad storybook series for kids called Happy Campers Books. Her debut novel, The Proper Order of Things is available on Amazon and in the iBookstore.

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