The Surprise Party

play by Belinda Lees , illustrated by Christopher Nielsen

Learning intention: 

I am learning to identify and understand the meanings of unfamiliar words so that I can extend my vocabulary. 


Success criteria: 

  • I can identify words that are unfamiliar to me in a text. 
  • I can use phonological (segmenting) orthographic(convention) or morphological (etymology, base or root words) or a combination of these strategies to infer the meaning of unfamiliar words. 
  • I can search for unfamiliar words to add to my vocabulary (optional). 


Essential knowledge: 

Watch The School Magazine video Connotation, Imagery and Symbol prior to reading the text to ensure students understand the use of symbolism.  


Assign roles and read through the play as a class or in groups. Ask students to identify any unfamiliar words and compile a list on the board. These should be words that they are unsure of the meaning of or are completely unfamiliar with. Have the students draw up a bingo card in the book similar to the one below (depending on how many words are in your class list). Have students fill in the bingo card with the words from the list on the board, writing them in whichever spaces they choose.  





Free Space






Explain that you are going to read out the definitions of each word and they need to guess which word each definition is for and mark it off their bingo card. Before starting the game, remind students to use strategies such as context clues and looking at any prefixes or suffixes of the words that may help them understand the meaning (e.g. quad in quadrant). Set a criteria for the first round of bingo, such as the first person to mark off all the words in their bottom row wins, then work through subsequent rounds depending on the number of words left. 

Read each definition from your list and give students time to consider which word this may relate to and mark it off. This list is likely to include: 

  • Transmogrify (change or transform especially in appearance) 
  • Infiltrators (someone who moves undetected into an organisation) 
  • Quadrant (the quarter of a circle or  
  • Hostile (relating to an enemy) 
  • Combustible (something able to catch fire) 
  • Edible (something able to be eaten) 
  • Retrieve (to recover) 
  • Contaminants (something unclean or harmful to its surroundings) 
  • Insubordination (not obeying authority) 
  • Maniacally (in a way that suggests insanity) 
  • Teletransport (transferring matter from one place to another without visible movement) 
  • Elaborate (done in a way with careful or excessive detail) 
  • Antennae (a conductor that sends out or receives electromagnetic waves) 

When a student calls out ‘bingo’, check that they have selected the correct words that you have read the definitions of to ensure they have the correct understanding of each word. 

If time allows, you may wish to break students into groups to come up with their own list of words and definitions to swap with another group for smaller bingo games. Their words may come from another text, a dictionary or an online random word generator. 

Try it! Have another try! Visual Meaning Connecting Checking Correct Spelling
Hint: What other strategy could you try? Digraph/ Trigraph/Dipthong Base word, Root word Known - unknown resources /dictionary