Ideas for Developing Vocabulary

Word walls and journaling can be valuable vocabulary development activities. As we find new words in any part of our day...especially literature...we add them together to the appropriate word wall, so the word walls grow during the year. If dialectical journals are begun in the younger grades through modeling and scaffolding, they may become inspiring tools of independent study beginning in 5th and 6th grades.

When our class writes, we take word walls out of the closet and hang them around the room, so if they need an adjective for "really big" they look at the top of the size word wall...even if they don't know the word! I regularly have them read through the words we have gathered. Sometimes I challenge them by turning the word wall around so all they could see is the shape and see how many they can write from their memories. It's pretty amazing how the shapes of the world walls help their memories! It's that visual/spatial memory! At the end of the year, we draw names to see who gets beloved, though by then usually tattered, word wall. No matter how much I love the word walls we have grown, I know that the value of them is in the creation with kids' participation.

For my third graders, I do a lot of scaffolding to help them get started with dialectical journals. At first, we design them together in bradded folders. I don't use spirals because once pages that are torn out (and 3rd graders can sneeze a page out). I usually keep most the folders until time to add words so they don't get smashed into the back of their desks behind wads of paper, old sandwiches, and baby sister's dirty diapers that had popped up in their backpacks.

We also do a "Word of the Day".... the first word of the year is always "enthusiastic" because, I explain, it describes them...and then I teach them how to spell it rhythmically by syllable. All of the kids can spell it after that and it pops up often in their writing. One of the best encouragements to use the words in their writing is my Lofty Allocades!

Then, we add words, sentences, and definitions together as we find them. The words of the day are extra special BIG words that they had to learn to spell...we practice and review orally spelling the list for about 5 minutes every day. (Distributive practice) Many times we use words from the word wall. When a student uses one of the words in their talk or in writing, they get bonus points or a special, silent, "standing O" from the class (everyone stands with arms extended overhead with their fingers touching). I want kids to see vocabulary building as a fun part of every day, all day, in every subject and in everyday talk.

One year I bought little paper backed thesaurus/dictionaries for each student. They wrote words in the alphabetical page. That worked really well, but I can't find them for sale any more.

Here are some links I found that might help, too.

Round the Clock Vocabulary

I welcome your suggestions of your ideas!

Suzy Red


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