Teaching Kids Vocabulary and a Love of Words

Teaching kids to love the English language and how to dissect words to discover their meaning is not always easy.  In my time as a teacher and then as a tutor, I have taken many different approaches to this pedagogy.  Most recently I have embraced a Unit 1-12 bundle on root words, prefixes and suffixes which has proved outstanding (Root Words, Prefixes, & Suffixes Units 1-12 Bundle by Literacy in Focus (teacherspayteachers.com).  offered through TeacherPayTeachers.  Each page offers short exercises on a new root word, prefixes or suffixes.  I usually keep these lessons short and focus on one affix at a time.   

Another activity that my kids absolutely loved for vocabulary building involved graduated paint chips.  I would start with a single word such as microscopic and then have students write synonyms based on the strength of the color and the meaning of the word.  For instance, microscopic would be on the palest pink paint chip and small would be on the most saturated paint chip along with variations in between.

I also like to rely on age appropriate mad libs to expand vocab and learn about parts of speech.  Mad libs has been around forever and pretty much guarantees fun for all ages plus it requires that students reach for words in their vocabulary

Finally, I have found using this “Words You Often Use” list (attached) to be invaluable for spelling and vocab with my students.  I usually leave it on their desks for reference as they are writing.  It is perfect for quick reference.

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