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$10,000 Pyramid

This educational game is a way for students to review key words or concepts from a unit and make connections between them. Students deepen their comprehension by describing concepts in as much detail as possible to another classmate. By making this learning strategy into a game, students are excited and engaged.

How to use

1. Select

Select key words or phrases from the lesson or unit. These can be concepts, themes, important dates or facts.

2. Create

Create a pyramid with three words or phrases you’ve chosen on the bottom, two in the middle, and one on the top. For each round of play, you’ll need to create a new pyramid.

3. Divide

Divide the class into pairs of students. Partners sit with Partner A facing the displayed pyramid and Partner B with his or her back to the pyramid. Explain that Partner B will guess each word or phrase based on descriptions given by Partner A. Partner B cannot use the displayed word or phrase in the description.

4. Play Round One

Partner A starts with the word or phrase on the bottom left of the pyramid. When Partner B correctly guesses, Partner A describes the next word or phrase on the bottom middle of the pyramid. Play continues as partners move up the pyramid, completing the bottom row, then middle, then top. The partner group that completes the pyramid first, by correctly guessing all six words or phrases, wins that round.

5. Play Round Two

Repeat this process with switched roles. Partners now change seats, a new pyramid is displayed, and Partner B gives the clues.

When to use

Use $10,000 Pyramid as a fun, fast-paced review game to use:

  • After introducing and working with new vocabulary terms
  • After completing a story or novel
  • As a review for an upcoming test or assessment
  • As a vocabulary-building tool
  • To increase oral language development (getting students to talk!)


Category Pyramid

Play the game like the original game show that this strategy is based on by filling in the six spaces on the pyramid with categories of information. For example, in a history class studying the civil war, one category could be Significant Battles. Students would have to use terms such as Battle of Gettysburg and Battle at Bull Run to have partners guess the category.

Group Play

Instead of playing in pairs, play in groups of four students. One version of group play: one person sits with his or her back to the board and the other three give clues. Another version: Three people sit with their backs to the board and compete to be the first to guess the word or phrase based on one student's description.

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