Lesson 5

Colonial Password

Lesson Topic: Social Studies Review
Date: Nov. 12, 1997
Teacher of Lesson: Joy Augustine Time: 45 minutes
Grade Level: 5th grade--adaptable


Password is designed with the knowledge that students of the intermediate grades enjoy quick-paced class games as a strategy to review content. This game requires students to work together to assist teammates in identifying names of people, events, terms and concepts that were significant in our study of the thirteen colonies. Password is similar to Jeopardy because students are asked to identify the term that matches a given description. This game could be played throughout the study as a way to help students master these terms. However, it is described below as an end of the chapter or unit review.


  1. Students will use the oral and written directions to successfully participate in the Colonial Password game. (This includes working cooperatively as a team and following basic rules of respect.) Application
  2. Students will devise clues that their teammates can use to figure out the password, a name, term or phrase from the vocabulary or concepts presented in the social studies unit. Synthesis
  3. Students will match the correct password, name, phrase or concept, with the clues generated by teammates. Knowledge


Cards made of construction paper or poster board, an overhead or poster listing Password rules, a pointer, chalkboard or another surface where cards can be attached, prizes of some sort (optional)


Before students arrive:

  1. Create several, at least one for each student, noun cards on construction or poster paper. The cards should be laminated if possible. These noun cards can be vocabulary terms or concepts the students have become familiar with during the course of their study of the thirteen colonies. The cards should cover a range of difficulties from easy, intermediate to difficult.
  2. Randomly spread the cards out across the board and attach them with either masking tape or fun tack.
  3. Prepare an overhead or poster stating Password rules.
  4. Determine the number of teams students will be divided into and how you will determine who is on each team. I suggest having the students letter-off into five teams A, B, C, D and E so that these teams are small enough to conference effectively to develop clues.

    When students enter:

  5. Explain the rules that are presented on the over-head projector verbally. Go through a practice round explaining: Each team will send a member up to face the class with his or her back to the board. (Everyone will have a turn to be up at the board.) If I pointed at the card that read "Virginia" your team would have fifteen seconds to make a clue for your password. The first clue your team might create could be, "This colony was the first to be successfully colonized by a group of Englishmen." If the student at the board stated the password, three points would be awarded and tallied on the board.

    If the students did not say the password correctly, the next clue might be, "This colony was named in honor of Queen Elizabeth." If the correct password had been elicited two points are awarded.

    If the correct password had not been stated, a third and final clue is given by the team such as "Colonists came here to look for gold in 1607."

    If the password was given then, the team would earn one point. If the student who is "up" never gives the correct password after the third clue, the next team sends someone up to the board and this person tries to use the three previous clues to steal the password for one point. If he or she does not get it, they are given a new password.

  6. When a password is correctly identified, the card is removed from the board. If after three clues are given the password is not identified by any team, the card remains on the board and can be used again.
  7. Ask if there are questions about how the game is played or its rules. Before the teacher answers students’ questions, ask members of the class to raise their hands and volunteer to explain the game or rules to their fellow classmates.
  8. Ask students to letter-off into five teams. Then ask students to move to seats that you designate A, B, C, D and E.
  9. Ask one student from each team to roll a set of dice. The team with the highest number will go first, the second highest second and the lowest number last.
  10. Begin playing Password according to the rules discussed.
  11. When time runs out or all cards have been used, the game is over. Award prizes.


  1. Did students demonstrate team behaviors such as supporting one another? Did the students employ the rules this game? Were students able to explain the rules and guidelines of Password to their classmates? Application
  2. Were students able to devise clues that were appropriate and effective, neither too easy or too difficult? Synthesis
  3. Did a majority of the students correctly state the passwords? Are there terms, events, names or concepts that need to be reviewed further? Knowledge


How did the lesson go? What revisions necessary? Did students enjoy the game? How did I do?


  1. Password can be used for any subject matter.
  2. At any time when the password is stated, as an added challenge, students can spell it correctly to receive an extra point.
  3. Rather than relying on teacher generated password cards, the students can make a list of passwords they feel are significant in their study of the colonies.
  4. Intead of removing password card from the board when it is correctly identified, the cards can remain on the board so it is more difficult to decide which term is correct.
  5. Both teams of students and individuals who are up at the board, can use their textbooks and notes to get ideas or confirm suspicions.
  6. Teams can be given a greater length of time to develop clues.
  7. Rather than randomly choosing cards to point at, the teacher can match the difficulty of the cards to the abilities of students. For example, if student who was labeled as EMH, he or she could play using password cards that were made from the adapted material he or she had studied.

Return to the 97-98 Exemplary Lesson Plans page