Do you have a vocabulary routine in your classroom? How intentional are you about helping your students build their vocabulary? Imagine if all students possessed a rich and robust vocabulary to help them comprehend text, enhance their writing, and serve them as a communication tool throughout the rest of their lives! But this can be difficult amidst all the other concepts you need to teach. Luckily, there are some simple ways we can help students nurture and expand their vocabularies, all while keeping engagement and motivation high. Here are some of my favorite ideas!
Have students show connections between new vocabulary and words they already know using a graphic organizer. Try creating a word map as a class for new vocabulary words. Include ideas such as synonyms, antonyms, similar words, or rhyming words.
Vocabulary Short Stories
Write a short story or paragraph using as many vocabulary words as possible. Challenge students to use as many as they can!
This is related to the last idea, but this time it’s collaborative! First, have each student choose a vocabulary word. One student uses their word to write a sentence, and then the next student adds to the story using their word until all students have contributed. Then read aloud and prepare to be entertained!
Word of the Day/Words of the Week Vocabulary Routine
Use this Building Vocabulary resource for Grades 2-4 or Grades 5-8 to implement a simple but effective vocabulary routine. Use the digital slides to predict and discuss. What does this word mean? Have you heard it before? Then post the word cards on your vocabulary bulletin board or a piece of chart paper where they will stay for the week. Have students use the new words to write sentences or paragraphs.
Use the words throughout the week in your classroom! Use the new vocabulary in your teaching if possible, and encourage your students to use the new words in their writing. At the end of each week, add the words to a word wall, where they can stay as student references all year long!
Students write vocabulary words and decorate them with colors, patterns or designs that help them make connections to the words.
Students join in partners, write the vocabulary words on cards, and divide them equally. One student gives clues, while the other must guess the vocabulary word. Students take turns giving clues and guessing.
Students sort a group of vocabulary words by certain criteria. Students could sort words based on part of speech, words they know and words they don’t know, or any other criteria relevant to your classroom.
Gallery Walk/Carousel Activity
Post pieces of chart paper around the classroom, with one vocabulary word written on each piece. Students circulate the room in partners or groups of three, writing a new sentence on each piece of paper. The sentence MUST be different from all the others that have already been written. When everyone is finished, have a class discussion to share the sentences. See more about how to do a gallery walk in this post.
See how many vocabulary words students can find in daily reading across subject areas. Keep a tally on the board that students can add to when they see one of the vocabulary words.
Use one of the vocabulary words incorrectly. Have students correct the mistake.
Have students draw sketches relating to the word, filling their page with all the vocabulary words for the week or month. This gives students a visual association and makes the words meaningful for students.