Paraphrase Games and Activities You Should Know

Paraphrase games and activities teach your students to paraphrase without putting them to sleep. This article teaches and reinforces this skill in fun and exciting ways by using activities and games.

Students must sometimes find solutions or facts from what they’ve read and not merely duplicate the source. We call this “paraphrasing.”

Why does this matter? First, we want to make sure we don’t plagiarize, so we don’t use someone else’s work and call it our own. After rephrasing and rethinking, teachers need to hear what a student says to know if they understand.

Paraphrase games and activities teach your students to paraphrase without putting them to sleep.
Paraphrase Games and Activities

Why Play Paraphrase Games?

Teachers must often hear students synthesize and rewrite words to evaluate if they grasp it. Most people aren’t born knowing how to paraphrase. These activities and games teach and reinforce paraphrase.

Most of us aren’t born knowing how to paraphrase, though. Use these games and activities to help your students learn and practice paraphrasing.

1. Paraphrasing Races

The teacher puts the students into groups and gives each group a sentence. They have three minutes to come up with as many different ways to say the sentence as they can. Each good way of putting it is worth one point. The winner is the team with the most points.

2. Fun Question and Answer

At its core, paraphrasing means rewriting something in your own words, so have students start by doing that. Split your students into pairs and ask them questions.

Questions like “What did you do yesterday after school?” Tell me your vacation plans etc.

  • Student A gives a three- or four-sentence answer to the question.
  • Student B rewrites what Student A said.
  • Then, each pair changes roles.

You should show the class how to do this a few times before you start.

3. Quiz, Quiz, Trade Game

This is another version of the “Talk at First” Game. Start by:

  • Giving each student a piece of paper with a sentence on it.
  • Have students find partners.
  • Student A says her sentence, and Student B rewrites it in his or her own words.

The students then switch places. Then, they trade cards and go on to find different partners.

4. The Use of Index Cards

Ask students to take something their parent or sibling says and put it in their own words. Send them home with two index cards. On one, have them write down the original idea and on the other, how they changed it. Share the next day in class.

5. Identify Me

Make index cards with samples of academic text, like a few sentences from your science or social studies book.


Give each group both a set of sample text cards and a set of blank index cards. Have each group choose someone to be the first judge and someone else to be the reader.

The judge picks a ready-made card and reads it out loud. Then, the judge puts it in the middle of the group so that everyone can see it.

Everyone in the group (except the reader) rewrites the text in their own words and writes it on a blank index card.

The card is then put in the reader. The reader reads each quoted card aloud, and the judge tries to guess who authored it. Give points for each right answer. Switch roles and keep playing until all of the task cards are used up.

6. Paraphrase Together

Try rewriting a short paragraph as a whole class. Use your document, camera or write it on the board to show the paragraph. You might want to give each student a copy. Make sure your pupils are aware of the distinction between paraphrasing and summarizing. Talk about the different ways to do things.

The students are to use the Four R’s to paraphrase correctly.

Reword the sentences

  • Students should try to reword the sentences. Use synonyms for words and phrases whenever you can.

Rearrange the sentences

  • Students should be able to change the order of the words in a sentence to make a new sentence. They can even switch the order of the ideas in a paragraph.

Realize that some words are unchangeable

  • Students should be aware that some words and phrases cannot be changed. Words such as names, dates, titles, etc., but they can be rephrased in a different way.

Recheck for same meaning

  • Make sure that the meaning of your paraphrase is the same as the original.

To Wrap Up

Paraphrase games are a great way to practice and develop your paraphrasing skills. They provide a space to reflect on and improve on your writing skills as well as work on teamwork, and creativity.

With a bit of creative thinking and originality, these games provide a lot of possibility for unforgettable moments.

Pam is an expert grammarian with years of experience teaching English, writing and ESL Grammar courses at the university level. She is enamored with all things language and fascinated with how we use words to shape our world.

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