Helping kids expand their vocabulary
Are you looking for ways to help kids with writing and sharing their ideas? This seems to be a common issue with younger children as they begin to share their ideas, but they don't have the words yet to describe things in detail. Instead, they tend to use the same few words over and over. We sometimes refer to these as "worn out words".
How to develop a rich vocabulary base
Developing a rich vocabulary base helps with writing and expressing ideas and it also allows kids to create more detailed and creative stories. There are many different ways to expand the vocabulary. Here are a few.
Brainstorm as a class
Choose some of the worn out words, such as nice, good, happy, fun and come up with a list of words that can be used instead.
Try a thesaurus
Younger children might find this a bit challenging, but they can still give it a try. A thesaurus will provide many synonyms for words.
Do a vocabulary challenge
Take a simple sentence and challenge the class to come up with different variations that make the sentence more interesting but still maintain the meaning. Then share the sentences with others.
Create a themed word wall
Sometimes kids just need words that fit the various themes. They can help them to get their stories started or provide some extra ideas to expand their stories. A themed word wall can be changed as different themes are explored. If you don't want to devote space to an actual word wall, you can store the words on rings and allow the students to take them as needed to use.
Use word games and activities to review vocabulary
It is important to make sure that the kids get lots of exposure to the words they need for various writing tasks. This ensures that the words become part of their working vocabulary. Then they will be able to access them more readily in future literacy situations.
I find that word games and activities work well for working with vocabulary words as they are engaging and fun. Kids learn without realizing they are actually studying the words and phrases. The more they play, the faster they begin to recognize the words.
Sight word games, silly sentences, I Have, Who Has? games, and task cards for matching games are a few examples that have worked well for me over the years. I created many of these games for literacy centers and they were always very popular.
Using the same types of formats helps the children to focus on the content rather than how to play the games. Just change up the themes and let them play.
Here are some vocabulary word sets I created for the seasons and special days. I hope to be able to add to the special days in the future. There are sets of I Have, Who Has? cards for each of the seasons and special days as well.
If you are teaching French, check out the French versions.
My students loved making silly sentences, so I created several themed sets for them. They enjoyed making the sentences and practiced parts of speech at the same time. As an extension activity, we would sometimes take the words and illustrate them and then put them into a flip book of silly sentences.
You can check out my special days parts of speech silly sentences here.
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I am offering my I Have, Who Has? Christmas set to my followers for free.
There you have some ideas for expanding and developing a broader vocabulary base for your students. I hope they work well for you. I would love to hear what other ways you use themed vocabulary in your classroom. Let me know in the comments.
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About Me Charlene Sequeira
I am a wife, mother of 4, grandmother of 9, and a retired primary and music teacher. I love working with kids and continue to volunteer at school and teach ukulele.