Part 3: Vocabulary Curriculum (SERIES: Before You Throw the Book at 'em)
Today I’m excited to share with you my absolute favorite ways to teach vocabulary! I think we’d all agree that learning vocabulary is an important part of English class, but is usually a frustrating and laborious one. At Yellow Wood, I’ve developed a fool-proof method for helping students memorize new vocabulary. Here are the steps:
1. Choose a vocabulary program geared toward visual learners!
At Yellow Wood, we use a variety of curricula for vocabulary, but they all have one thing in common: they were created for visual learners. But you might ask, how do these help auditory or kinesthetic learners? I’ll explain!
Each program we use has a picture AND a sentence that goes along with their vocab word that are aimed at helping you memorize the word and it’s meaning. The picture is a great aid for visual learners, and the sentence is the aid for auditory learners! Its very important though that you practice memorizing vocabulary using BOTH methods. You want your student to be well rounded in their skills, so studying vocabulary using both visual and auditory cues will help exercise both sides of the brain, regardless of their preference.
When introducing new vocabulary, make sure discuss the word and it’s meaning, what the picture depicts, and how the example sentence fits with the vocabulary word. Handing students a list of words to “memorize” is rarely fruitful or productive! Instead, walk them through the process of learning these words.
Here are a few options to choose from that we LOVE! (These links are affiliate links. We receive a small profit from any that are purchased using this link. But don't worry, we only suggest products we truly love!)
2. Vocabulary Flip Books! (Printable)
Once the new vocabulary words have been introduced, help your student make a flip book for studying purposes. At Yellow Wood, we keep a spiral notebook for vocabulary and cut out and paste the new flip books into the notebook each week. You could also create lapbooks of vocabulary using file folders!
When our students create flip books, they are given the option of using a picture or a sentence to help memorize the word! This allows them to navigate and choose what method works best for them. We still study in class using both methods so that students are familiar with both the sentence and picture.
Using these flip books negate the issue of losing flash cards or index cards, and are less cumbersome and more conducive to studying than using the book! It also gives students an opportunity to perfect their neat handwriting and drawing skills each week!
3. Play a matching game!
Another way we study vocabulary is by printing the words and meanings on cardstock, and then cutting each out and mixing them on a table. We then work as a group or individually to match the words with the correct meaning. This is a great timed activity too! You can keep track of the time it takes so that students can see their progress and also try to beat their record!
If your kids love computer games, you can also use quizlet (for FREE!) and play some great games with vocabulary words! Here's an example of a word list already in quizlet's system for the SAT Word power book listed above! You can also create your own word lists.
4. Play Hangman!
You’ll probably laugh when I say that hangman is a GREAT way to study vocabulary, especially the spelling of vocabulary words! Last year I worked with high schoolers on their vocabulary each week. These students all struggled with spelling. We played hangman with their vocabulary words several times a week, and by the end of the school year they were AMAZING at guessing the words with just a couple letters on the board. What changed? Their ability to visualize the words was much stronger than the beginning of the year. This bled into their daily spelling abilities too!
5. Play Pictionary or Charades!
Another fun game to play is pictionary or charades! This is great for kinesthetic learners especially. By drawing the picture of the vocabulary word, or acting it out, students are able to better retain the information!
6. Not Homeschooled? No problem!
Even if you’re not homeschooling, or you already have a vocabulary program, you can implement these methods! Any vocabulary or spelling list can be studied using the ideas I listed above. In fact, we often use flip books for science and history terms, foreign language vocabulary, and more!