Odd One Out (Which One is Different?)

Purpose: This activity can be used at all levels to review vocabulary. It also works well in one-to-one tutoring situations.

Materials: board and marker

Prep: Based on the theme or unit you want to review, make groupings of 6 words in which one of the 6 doesn’t fit with the others. There may be room for debate about which one doesn’t fit, and that adds a layer of complexity and interest to the activity.


I do it:
The tutor writes 6 words on the board, reads them to the class, then circles the word that doesn’t belong and explains why.

Example: chair table window sofa desk shelf

T: In my office at home, I have a chair, a table, a window, a desk and shelf, but no sofa, so I’m going to circle “sofa”.

We do it:
Ask learners what they would choose in the above example and why. One might circle “window” because it’s the only item that is both inside and outside. A key idea here is that there’s not always one right answer, but learners need to be able to explain their choices.

Write one more set of 6 words on the board and ask members of the class to indicate which word they would circle and why.

You do it:

Write sets of 6 words or numbers (or 4 for lower level) on the board (unless you decided to make a handout ahead of time). If you want learners to practice writing, ask them to copy the words, then circle the word or number in each group that they think doesn’t belong, knowing that they will need to justify their choices.

To wrap up, ask volunteers to come forward, circle the word in each list that doesn’t belong, and explain their choice. If other students made different choices, ask them to share those and justify their choice.

Extension: If everyone agrees on a particular word that is the “odd one out”, erase it and ask students to choose another one in the same group that doesn’t fit. When you have two words left, ask the learners to come up with ten ways that the two remaining words are different.

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