Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Ideas for Getting Kids to Use Vocabulary Words

Classroom Freebies Manic Monday
I find it's always fun to introduce new vocab words to my kids, especially when we are doing the robust vocabulary which are words that are large and not used in everyday language.  For example, every year one of our robust vocab words is "dappled".  I don't think I had ever heard of the word before I started teaching.  It means to have spots, streaks, or patches of different colors, which is a lot of things! Cheetahs...dogs...cats...tigers...etc..  So last year I brought in a spotted vest (a truly hideous vest) and I let my kids who said the word "dappled" during normal conversations wear the vest.  It was great to see my kids try to use their new word when talking to each other.  I don't have something nifty like that vest for every word that I teach, so that's why I like to refer to some of these vocab in circulation ideas below.  I found them a while ago and I don't remember where....and of course, I've added to the mix of ideas as well. Read along and see if there is something that you could use in your classroom.  The idea is to get your kids to use their new vocab words in everyday conversation.  The more they use their words, then the more they understand their meaning (not just memorizing a definition...which...ahem...I never did [insert sarcasm] in school).  So unlike me - I really want my kids to know their words.  Here are 12 quick ways to get them talking big in your room:

Display the vocabulary word card.  Add a tally mark beside the word each time a student uses the vocabulary word in conversation.

2.  May I Have Your Autograph?
Display an enlarged print vocabulary word card.  Allow students to autograph the card each time they use the vocabulary word in conversation.

3.  Vocabulary String
Scan and print the cover of each book from which vocabulary words are pulled.  Attach a kite “tail” of string, yarn, ribbon, etc. to the cover.  Print out vocabulary word cards and glue each card on the tail.  Allow student to write their name on a clothespin and clip it to the word card each time they use the word in conversation.

4.  Don’t Lose Your Marbles!
Display the vocabulary word on the outside of a small jar. Add a marble to the jar each time a student uses the vocabulary word in conversation.

5. Stick With It!
Display the vocabulary word card.   Each time a student uses the vocabulary word in conversation, have him add a small sticker to the card.

6. Just Scrolling Along!
On a computer that is visible to students, set the screensaver to scrolling text and type in the vocabulary words and/or definitions.  Set the screensaver to come on after 5 minutes or so.

7. Rock On!
Make a vocabulary jar by gluing a vocabulary word card to the outside of a jar.  Allow students to drop a rock in the jar each time they use the vocabulary word in conversation. 

8.  Vocabulary Vine
Make a crepe paper vine to wind across the walls in your classroom.  Cut out leaves and write a vocabulary word on each leaf.  Attach the leaves to your vine and watch students’ vocabulary grow!

9.  Word Wizard
Purchase clear name badges. Write the vocabulary word on a card.  Slide the card into the badge holder.  Allow a student to be the “Word Wizard”.  He will wear the vocabulary word and should use the word throughout the day.

10.  Word Chain! 
Cut out construction paper chain links.  Each time a student uses a vocabulary word in conversation, have him write the vocabulary word on the link and add it to the chain.  The chain will hang straight down from the ceiling.  Display this poem:
For all the vocabulary words you say,
You’ll add another link today.
And when the chain and floor do meet,
(Teacher’s Name) will bring us each a treat!

11.   Vocabulary Pop!
Set a large jar on the counter.  Each time a student uses a vocabulary word, drop a small handful of popcorn kernels in the jar.  When the jar is full, have a popcorn party.

12.   Movin’ On!
Take a piece of yarn the width of your classroom and hang it above you.  The yarn should start on one side of the room and stretch across it horizontally to attach to the other side of the classroom.    On the far side, attach a blown up balloon.  (Before blowing up the balloon, slip a piece of paper inside with the treat to be given written on it—class homework pass, 5 minutes extra recess, etc.) Attach a sign that says “Our vocabulary is moving on!” with a gym clip.  Each time a student uses a vocabulary word, move the sign a bit toward the balloon.  When the sign reaches the balloon, pop the balloon and read the prize.  You can then start over with a new balloon and a new secret prize!

To help out with some of these new ideas I've created signs that go along with some of the strategies. Click on any of the pictures below or click {HERE} to grab the document for free. 



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