Word Wheel Challenge: A Middle School Game

A Word Game for Any Subject
I love to play thinking games with middle school students, don’t you? (Especially when they don’t really view it as thinking)!
I have this Word Wheel Challenge game labeled as a ‘middle school game,’ but it can also be used with upper elementary or even high school students.

Making this Middle School Game
MANY years ago I went to a make ‘n take workshop, and the person running it had several math and language arts activities made from cardboard circles.
For this particular activity:
  1. a hole is made in the center of the circle, 
  2. a shoestring is secured to the bottom of the circle and threaded through the hole
  3. the circle is divided into 32 sections
  4. each section is labeled with a letter of the alphabet (using some letters, like vowels, twice).
As you can see in my OLD and very used wheel below, the sections can be colored so the circle is more attractive:)


How to Play this Middle School Game 
The rules of the game can be  conveniently written on the back of the wheel (less chance of forgetting them!)
Here they are:
​1. Divide into 2 teams (sometimes I divide the class into 3 or 4 teams).
2. Spin the wheel for Team 1 (hold onto the shoestring and spin wheel).
3.  A member of Team 1 stops the wheel with thumb and forefinger (so the thumb lands on only one letter).


4. The team must think of a word using that letter, in order to earn 1 point (they have 10 seconds to think of the word…I don’t let them use proper nouns).
5. The team may choose to spin again. If they do, they must use their first letter AND their new letter in a word, to earn a total of 2 points. If they think of a word within 20 seconds, their point total is 2. If they can’t think of a word, they go back to 0 points and the next team gets a turn.

6. If Team 1 gets to 2 points, they may choose to spin again to earn 3 points (using all 3 letters in a word in 30 seconds), then 4 points, (using all 4 letters in a word in 40 seconds) and so on. If, on any turn, the team can’t think of a word, they lose ALL points, and play goes to the other team.
7. The first team to reach 6 points wins…..(this doesn’t sound hard to the kids, but once they get to 4 letters, they often end up losing their points. It’s tough to get to 6 points because of the combination of letters they end up with.)
8. The time limit is 10 seconds per letter, so as a team attempts to earn more points, the time limit increases. (3 letters = 30 seconds, 4 letters = 40 seconds, etc.)
Students REALLY enjoy this game and work hard to think of words….it’s FUN thinking!

I made a video of the game quite a few years ago and added it to the Tools for Teaching Teens store (this is a group I collaborate with:-) – feel free to watch it to check out how to make the wheel and play the game!
Click to watch on TPT.

Find more middle school games and activity ideas here.


Welcome to Cognitive Cardio Math! I’m Ellie, a wife, mom, grandma, and dog ‘mom,’ and I’ve spent just about my whole life in school! With nearly 30 years in education, I’ve taught:

  • All subject areas in 4th and 5th grades
  • Math, ELA, and science in 6th grade (middle school)

I’ve been creating resources for teachers since 2012 and have worked in the elearning industry for about five years as well!

If you’re looking for ideas and resources to help you teach math (and a little ELA), I can help you out!



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