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Vocabulary Lesson Ideas for Elementary Students

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Learning new words can be a challenging task for some students. The veteran teachers below know how to make learning new vocabulary fun for their class. Get a head start of new vocabulary lessons with the tried-and-true, classroom-tested activities from some amazing elementary school teachers.

E-X-P-A-N-D Vocabularies the Easy Way!

“In order to expand my students’ vocabularies, I continually introduce new words into use,” says Rozalyn, a 1st Grade Teacher from Boca Raton, Florida. “Whenever a new word pops up, either through class discussion or when we are reading together, we take time out to clarify the word’s meaning. We then add that word to a class chart titled, “Our Million Dollar Words.” This approach encourages children to make these words their own; they get excited when they note one of “our words” used in discussion or print. I have seen their vocabularies grow a great deal thanks to this little ongoing activity.”

Let Your Word of the Week Get their Attention in More Ways than One

Cynthia, a 2nd Grade Teacher from Port St. Lucie, Florida, combines vocabulary lessons with great behavior management strategies. “In my classroom, our “word of the week” does double duty; it works to strengthen vocabulary while also helping me gain students’ attention,” she explains.

“Here’s how it works: after introducing the word in class, I tell students I will be using that word whenever I need to capture the group’s attention in the coming week. To use the word as an attention-grabber, I say the word, repeat it while clapping out its syllables, then I spell the word.”

“As soon as they realize I am going through this exercise aloud,” Cynthia says, “my students know they should be using their voices to join me. When we are done with the recitation, the children know that is their signal to fall quiet.”

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Let Students “Snack” on High Frequency Words

Students in Tania’s 1st Grade class in Suffolk, Virgina associate new vocabulary with a delicious treat! “High Frequency words are a must for my 1st graders. This year I decided to rename the words “Popcorn Words” because students need to be able to read them in a jiffy and pop them out without hesitation,” Tania explains.

“To support the popcorn theme, I created a magnetic banner titled: This Week’s Popcorn Words! Then I display the words on yellow pieces of paper cut to resemble pieces of popcorn. In addition, I label yellow index cards cut to resemble pieces of popcorn with the same words. I then place the flash cards into popcorn buckets so the students can use them to read and play word games.”

“To help students organize their words, I glue a popcorn bag into each student’s word study notebook. We used the bag to hold weekly lists of High Frequency words,” she says. “I pretest each set of High Frequency words, send the lists home for practice, and retest the words each week. The popcorn theme really appeals to my students and their parents.”

What are some of your favorite ways to introduce vocabulary to your students? Share with us!

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Clay Boggess
Clay Boggess

These are great ideas to stimulate student interest in learning new words. By relating learning to things that students are already interested in an can relate to speeds up learning!