The Mystery Word Game

The Mystery Word Game is a great game to review vocabulary. Gives clues and challenge your students to answer with the correct vocabulary until they can guess the mystery word.

I have used this activity in my classes as it only requires some markers pens and a whiteboard (or chalk and a blackboard). It encourages students to use all the vocabulary they have learned so far and to listen to descriptions of the words. This isn’t a new game and there are several descriptions of secret or mystery word games available on the internet.

However, I decided to make a PowerPoint version of this game (limited to 10 letters).

TMWG - Example.PNG

This example uses seven letters, but the text is clear and easy to read. In a large classroom, it can be easier to read from the back of the class and the different colors allow you to use multiple topics if you wanted.

When you begin the activity, none of the words are visible. Students call out a number and the teacher reads out one or more clues that describe the word. If the students guess the word, the teacher clicks on the answer button to reveal it. If the students can’t guess the word, they can pass and choose the next number. The aim of the game is to guess the mystery word contained in the color boxes.

TMWG_DL_IMAGE1

TMWG_DL_IMAGE2

Click on the images above or follow the link below to download the template.

Download The Mystery Word Game template.

The template contains 2 slides – a title slide and one slide that contains space for 10 letters and 10 words. If you wish to play several rounds of the mystery word game, copy the slide as many times as you need to.

Alternatively, you can copy the slide into your own presentation.

Copy the slide.

  • Right-click on the slide and click on copy
  • Change the window to your new template by clicking on the file open on the taskbar

Alternatively, hold ALT and press TAB to select your new presentation.

  • Right-click in the slide view pane on the left-hand side of your current presentation and click on paste (keep source formatting).

Alternatively, press CTRL+V to paste your slide (However, this won’t keep the formatting from the original template).

How to Edit the Template

Watch this tutorial video or read the notes below for information on how to edit the template.

Video tutorial on how to edit the template.
The video run-time is 2 minutes and 2 seconds.
  • Download and open the template.
  • Copy as many slides as you need.
  • Add your mystery word to the slide. One word in each of the color boxes.
    • For example: W E A T H E R
  • Add the answers. The remaining letters to your list of words.
    • For example: (W)ind, (E)arth, (A)utumn, (T)hunder,
      (H)ail, (E)nvrionment, (R)ain
  • Delete the parts of the slide that you don’t need.
    • For example: Unused text boxes, answer buttons and numbers.
  • Move the words into the center of the slide.
  • Write any topics or prompts you need in the corner boxes.

How to Edit the Template

Playing the Mystery Word Game

  • Divide students into groups of 3-5.
  • Ask the groups to think of a team name.
  • Nominate one group at random to start.
  • The students from that group ask for a number.
  • Give the whole class the clue associated with that number.
    • Any team can buzz in or attempt to answer the clue.
  • If students guess the answer correctly, click on the answer button to reveal the answer. Students can be awarded one point for one correct answer. Give the team an opportunity to guess the mystery word.
  • If a team guesses the mystery word, they are awarded points equal to the number of hidden letters.
    • For example: Weather is a seven-letter word. If a team guesses correctly from these letters. W T H. Four letters remain hidden, so the team is awarded four points.
  • If no team can answer the clue. Pass and move onto the next clue.
  • Repeat the game with as many mystery words as you wish.

Using Multiple Topics

TMWG - Topics.PNG

The Mystery Word Game can use up to four different categories. In the example above, the categories of people, places, activities and food were used.

This version allows you to review several topics and as a result it is easier to prepare. It can be difficult finding words (that match the letters to your mystery word) that all connect to a central theme. Especially if it is a letter such as Q, W, X or Z.

The game is also played in the same way as the version shown in the tutorial, however, if students call for number 1, they know that the answer is going to be the name of a person.

Teacher-led to Student-led

Once you have modelled the activity with the PowerPoint template, why not ask your students to create their own mystery words and write their own clues.

If the students find it challenging to write their own clues, provide them with some useful structures.

For example:

People – “This person is famous for…”
Places – “There is a(n)… in this place.”
Activities – “People do this when…”
Food – “It’s a(n)… dish.” / It’s a(n) ingredient in…

As a student-led activity, it can be done in pairs, small groups or even as a mingle activity.

That’s it! I hope your students will enjoy playing the Mystery Word Game.

Do you have any suggestions for using the Mystery Word Game in class?

Please leave a comment if you have any ideas you would like to share or if you have any questions about the template.

Alternatively, you can send me a message on my Facebook page or on Twitter.

Thanks for reading and take care!


The Mystery Word Game was designed with Microsoft PowerPoint 2016. Animations and sounds may differ when opened in other presentation software.

Microsoft® Office® is a copyrighted product of the Microsoft® corporation. All images are for educational purposes only.


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4 thoughts on “The Mystery Word Game

  1. I have found so many joyful games on this website. It’s one of my favourite. I’ll try to use most of the games but I’m pretty sure they’ll be a great choice to improve English of young learners at home.

    Liked by 1 person

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