Do your students groan when it’s time for vocabulary? Do you groan when it’s time for vocabulary? Need to find new strategies to make vocabulary fun? Guess what? It doesn’t have to be boring! Yes, perhaps your reading program (that you might be forced to use, and either like or dislike) may present vocabulary in a boring way, but that doesn’t mean you have to follow suit.
Here are a few ideas for spicing up your vocabulary time!
ACT IT OUT (with words):
Split your kids into groups of two or three randomly (or not so randomly depending on your class). Give each group ONE vocabulary word and 5 minutes to create a skit that illustrates their vocabulary word in some way. Can this work with ANY vocabulary list? Yes, it can. I promise. This activity will force your students to think outside the box and come up with things you never dreamed possible. Allow students to use accessible props like paper, desks, chairs, the white board, and anything else that is readily available. Students then have one minute to present their skit to the class. The group cues the class to listen by starting with the word “BEGIN” and alerts them to raise their hand to guess the vocabulary word by saying “END”. I would allow the students to have their vocabulary list sitting in front of them.
ACT IT OUT (without words):
Use the suggestions from #1, but don’t allow the students to talk during their skits. This is, of course, more challenging, but when we challenge students, they rise to the occasion, right? For what it’s worth, I used this method almost exclusively. You will definitely see some skits that you don’t understand, but the students will be engaged in their learning. They will be forced to think in new ways while they learn the vocabulary words.
HOW MANY WORDS?:
Place students in groups of three of four and give them the vocabulary list. Instruct them to use as many vocabulary words in a four sentence story as possible. The key to succeeding in this challenge (and you can make it a competition if you choose) is to use the words correctly AND be entertaining. If you choose to make it a competition, you can swap stories with other classes in your grade level and ask the students to determine which story wins (it’s best to keep the names off the papers in this case). Many times, I will set a minimum number of words that must be used (6 or 7 works well for a story with 4 sentences). Do this activity one time and your students will be begging you to do it again.
GUESS MY WORD:
Students each get a sticky note placed on their forehead (or back) and must ask questions to determine the word written (by you) on their sticky note. Students can do this activity in a small group or you can have one student in the front of the room at a time (you must know your class to determine which scenario works best). The student guessing his/her word can ask YES or NO questions like, “Am I a verb? Am I a noun? Am I an adjective? Do I have a prefix? Do I have a suffix? Would I come after HOUSE in the dictionary?” The student guessing his/her word DOES have access to the vocabulary list and can ask questions based on the list of words. I like to make a rule that students only get TWO “official” guesses. If the student gets the word within two guesses, he/she wins.
DRAW A PICTURE:
Ask students to create an illustration for each vocabulary word. Again, any vocabulary words will work. If the word is abstract, you can tell students “to draw a picture that illustrates that word in some way.” If it’s necessary to write a sentence under the picture to provide clarity, that is fine. Again, students will be forced to think outside the box and will surely come up with some surprising pictures!
The DOWN and DIRTY:
Let’s face it, learning words can be boring or it can be fun. Students are savvy and will pick up vocabulary when we use it in context and have confidence in their ability to use it. Continue to use words in your daily interactions that might be “above their heads” because students are sophisticated enough to use context clues to figure out your message.
Let’s also face it… some words are more fun to learn. Words that are fun to say, read, and write are a bright spot in a student’s day. I’m not talking about words like fart, poop, and puke either.
I’m talking about sophisticated words that would impress even the most “word wise” adults. I love words and that’s why I created fancy vocabulary products for upper elementary (and even middle school) students. Check out my fancy vocabulary freebie here! If your students like it, you can check out the products tied to this freebie by clicking the pictures below. If you are a SERIOUS word loving teacher, there is also a bundle available at a reduced price!
Cheers to arming our students with sophisticated words that add to their plethora of knowledge!
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