Scattergories: Classroom List Competitions


If you’ve played Scattergories, then you know that the concept is pretty simple. You roll the die to choose a letter. Then, you have a certain amount of time to come up with words that start with that letter to fit into a list of categories. For example, the letter may be R, and one of the categories is band, so you write Rolling Stones or REO Speedwagon or Rhianna.

After time is up, each player takes turns reading the words on their list. If anyone has the same word, that word is crossed off. This continues until everyone has read their list. The player who has the most words still on their list wins the round. So, the goal of the game is to come up with the most unique words that others wouldn’t think of.

Playing in Class

Supplies needed:

  • Pen & paper
  • A timer

How to play:

Essentially, you can use this to play with anything that would require students to come up with lists of items. I don’t use the letter requirement, but I still play basically the same. To start, I give students the categories (say, Disappointed Tone). Then, students have 1-2 minutes to come up with as many words as they can that connect to that tone.

After time expires, students read their lists and cross off any words that are the same on other lists. At then end, whoever has the most words left on their list wins.

This can be played with individual students, or in teams, depending on your class size. Also, I’ve noticed that reading from lists can become time consuming, and students may lose interest at this part, so find other ways to go through this quicker (like maybe showing the list on the screen instead of reading out loud) could help out.


The main purpose of this exercise is to help students get creative with ideas and find unique ways at looking at a certain topic. It can be useful for brainstorming ideas as well.

Good for:

  • Brainstorming
  • Word choice exercises
  • Vocabulary review
  • Reading annotations
  • Skills that involve close observation
  • Anything that would require a list

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