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Friday, October 21, 2016

Teaching Vocabulary with Games

This month, the Mob is focusing on vocabulary. There's no doubt that introducing, teaching, and reinforcing vocabulary is vital, but what is the best way to do it?

Umm, Don't Try This

Yes, you guessed it.    Giving students word lists, vocabulary word finds, and even crossword puzzles are not going to build their vocabulary.  Rote memorization doesn't work -- not in any real, meaningful way.

But What Works?

I'm not sure there is one perfect way to teach vocabulary.  (That's the good news!)

Since students all learn in different ways and at different rates, it's important to practice vocabulary in a variety of ways.  We know that repeated, meaningful interaction with words helps students learn, understand, and use them.

Try This:  Generate Word Interest

Help raise your students' awareness of the importance of word use by getting them out of their seats to play games!  Gather up your Scrabble board and borrow several others and play scrabble.  Even though your students aren't technically studying content vocabulary, they are searching their minds for words that contain high value letters and words that will fit on the board. 

Make a word wall -- or at least an "Interesting Words" wall.  Encourage students to add words to a blank piece of butcher paper on your classroom wall.  What words do they notice from their reading?  Allowing students to illustrate the word's meaning or initial their word finds can help generate interest and enthusiasm for word collections.

Subscribe and use Merriam Webster's "Word of the Day."  While I wouldn't recommend trying to keep up with a new word a day, you could choose a word of the week.  I love this resource because it provides an audio pronunciation and a bit of etymology for the word.

Try This:  Vocabulary Collector

When your students are reading, provide them with a vocabulary collector.  It can be as simple as a sheet of paper folded into thirds.  Ask students to jot down words and phrases that they come along in their reading.  These words could go on your "Interesting Words" wall or into a Vocabulary Catcher (see below).  Again, you are encouraging your students to become more aware of words and how they are used.
Vocabulary collectors are also helpful in practicing using context clues.

Try This:  "Vocabulary Catcher" Games

Remember fortune tellers? Cootie catchers?  Use them for vocabulary.  The great thing is that students can create several throughout the school year and use them for impromptu games.  I also like them because each one only has eight spots for words -- a manageable amount of words to gather and understand.

I have a Vocabulary Catcher freebie on my Teachers Pay Teachers store.  Be sure to check it out!

The Bottom Line

Vocabulary, whether it's content vocabulary or not, is important.  Getting students interested and engaged with new words is the first step!

So, what innovative ideas do you use to teach vocabulary?  Share your ideas below!

Happiness always♥


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