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This educational strategy is used to review vocabulary and key concepts and deepen students’ understanding. It helps students make connections to learning in a unit. Password is not only a challenge for students, but allows them to have fun while learning!

How to use

1. Create

Create a list of vocabulary terms, important people, significant dates, etc. that go with the current topic. These will be the “passwords” for the game. Write a list of passwords for Partner A and another set for Partner B, using the template below.

2. Pair

Pair students and have them face one another. Give Partner A and Partner B their separate lists.

3. Play Round 1

Partner A will be the first partner to give one-word clues about the first word on his or her list. Partner B will get one guess after each clue. Set a timer for 30 seconds (or longer, depending on the difficulty of the words) and ask students to begin the first round.  When the timer rings, Partner A records how many clues he or she had to give before Partner B guessed the word. If Partner B has not been able to guess, Partner A records “10.”

4. Play Round 2

Next it is Partner B’s turn to give clues about the first word on his or her list. If Partner A is not able to guess before the timer rings, Partner B records “10.”

5. Continue

Timed rounds continue until partners have finished all the words on their lists. At the end of play, partners total the number of clues given. The partner with the LOWEST score win!

When to use

Use Password:

  • For Guided Practice, after a lesson where new vocabulary and concepts are introduced
  • For review before starting a new unit
  • To help students assess what they need to study for a quiz or test
  • As a vocabulary review before reading a new text


Picture Password

Instead of a word, use images or pictures that the students must describe to their partner. Picture cards can be used. Students should take turns giving clues, one after the other. If the partner guesses correctly, the card is put into their personal winning pile. At the end of the allotted game play time, the partner with the most cards in their personal winning pile wins.

*For elementary, this variation is appropriate for Primary Grades PK-2.

Classwide Password

Two students stand at the front of the room with their backs to the “password.” The rest of the class gives clues to these two contestants. Contestants take turns guessing the password until one of the contestants guesses correctly. The contestant who guesses the password correctly remains at the front of the class to challenge another student.

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