Vocabulary Review: Crossword Activity (Jigsaw Pair-work)

Review Activity of Vocabulary (for ESL Teachers)

Target Language: vocabulary

ESL Level: lower-intermediate to advanced

Class Time: 25 minutes

Preparation Time: 20 minutes

Summary: students give hints to their partners to complete a crossword puzzle together


This is a jigsaw activity using crossword puzzles. A jigsaw activity is basically when one student has half of the answers (or information) and the other student has the other half. They then have to work to get all the answers.

This jigsaw in this activity looks like this:

crossword game to review vocabulary

crossword game to review vocabulary

As you can see, StudentA has been given the horizontal answers, and StudentB has he vertical answers. Once you put the students in pairs, tell them to give hints to each other so they can complete the crossword puzzle together.

Students should not just say the answer (e.g. “number three down is conservation!“). Instead, they should give hints to their partner (e.g. “number three down is a noun. We studied it yesterday. It means… protection. It’s the protection of nature and animals.“)

My students enjoy this activity because it’s a puzzle and it’s also a useful way to review vocabulary.

How I Prepare the Activity

I can prepare two sheets like the above in 20 minutes.  Here are my steps.

  1. Go to a free Crossword Puzzle Maker.
  2. Add a title and enter your vocabulary as both ‘words’ and ‘clues’

game for reviewing vocabulary

3. Next, create the crossword puzzle as an image or PDF.

review vocabulary with this ESL game

  1. Print two copies.
  2. Fill in copy one with the vertical answers, and copy two with the horizontal answers (as seen above).
  3. Cut off the hints section at the bottom so the students won’t have the answers.
  4. Copy for your class and enjoy.

I hope you find this vocabulary review activity useful.

– Matthew Barton / Creator of Englishcurrent.com

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