Posts Tagged ‘vocabulary’
I can’t believe it. It was one thing to hit September and have the 1c pencil deals replaced by pumpkins, skeletons, and apple-cinnamon scents. Now, its just October 8 and the pumpkins are marked down 40% off to make room for green, red, blue, and silver … and the aroma of pine!
That can only mean one thing: merchants are getting us ready for the holiday gift season. So before we’re bombarded with ads for other stuff, I thought I’d put in a pitch for games that make great gifts because
- We can do them together as a family.
- Are perfect additions to the classroom, especially when kids have to stay indoors for recess.
- Make literacy fun.
As a mom and literacy passionista, I am always on the lookout for entertainment that doesn’t involve a screen, has some type of educational value, and can have lots of players. I have some childhood favorites like Scrabble, Boggle, Pictionary, and Yahtzee, but also like to find new things that have the bells and whistles to grab kids of today’s generation.
Most of these games are good for kids who are in second through fourth grade and have some experience with creating and playing with words.
I am usually behind the times, so Bananagrams had been around the world and back a couple times already before I discovered it in 2010. I had seen it, but never played it. Now I’m addicted … yes, two years later it is still one of my favorite gamges.
Playing Bananagrams is great fun and, as it turns out, is a great modeling tool, too. A bunch of us moms used to play it at the pool on summer evenings. I can’t tell you how many times our dripping-wet kids came over to watch us play and “help” us with words.
Scrabble SLAM is a card game that is a natural choice when you want something for kids of mixed ages. Essentially, you rebuild a four-letter word like sand by playing a cards in your hand … changing it to hand or sane or band, etc.
Speed is part of the game, so it may take young players a bit to get comfortable. The other option is to turn “off” the speed component or pair together in teams (e.g., parent / child).
Concepts & Strategies
Such & Such is for up to four people or can be played in teams. The game’s tag line is “the answers to the game come in twos,” so players build pairs of things that go together: peanut butter and jelly, guilt and innocence, moon and stars, etc.
This is a game about “clever pairings and witty competition.” It will be more fun for kids 10 and up, but could be hilarious to do with sibling teams of mixed ages.
Ticket to Ride is a good, old-fashioned board game. Each player is trying to build a cross-country railway route by making city-to-city connections from one coast to the other. The game is sure to expand the players’ vocabulary and understanding of geography, history, and analytical processes.
There are lots of facets to the game, including geography and strategy. There are individualized versions for several continents.
These games combine fun and literacy concepts on many levels, not just letters. They require creativity, memory, problem solving, and even strategy.
It’s your move. What are your favorite games to play as a family?
Disclosure: The hyperlinks and images take you to Amazon.com. The Reading Tub, a 501(c)(3) public charity, uses passive fundraising like affiliate partnerships to raise funds for its mission. The Reading Tub may earn income from purchases made through those links.
Posted on October 4, 2012 by Terry Doherty in Literacy, Reviews.
Tags: book review, easy readers, emerging readers, high frequency words, Learning to Read, MaryRuth Books, Online Children's Books, picture books, read alouds, vocabulary
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Danny & Abby running through leaves.
One of the wonderful things about seasonal events is that they provide a backdrop to engage emerging and developing readers in something that is already part of their lives.
MaryRuth Books‘ trademark series of easy readers features Danny the dog. As founder and author Mia Coulton explains, the books center around “Danny’s escapades.”
What sets these (and other) MaryRuth easy readers apart for me is not just Danny (lots of children’s books do that), but that they have the look and feel of a “real book.”
- Traditionally early easy readers are 6-inches by 9-inches and scream some form of “I can read” on the cover. These books are sized for small hands, but have a picture book shape. You’ll find all the important information about word count in the cover … but not in a spot the kids are likely to read.
- Photographs (rather than illustrations) make the events more “real” for young readers and the photography makes the scenery more vivid for exploring and decoding.
- The text encourages readers to explore the photos, not just use them for coding. For example, in Danny’s Five Little Pumpkins, there are no references to Danny in the story, but he is hiding in the corner of several pictures.
Other books in the Danny series are shaped more like chapter books, but these early readers have a comfortable square that remind kids of picture books and add to the confidence that I am reading a book just like the kind Mom reads to me. Here are three titles that will carry you from now well into winter! Click the title to read them on BigUniverse.com.
Danny and the Four Seasons
written and photographed by Mia Coulton
page count: 16
word count: 55
In a series of images, Danny shows readers what the season is. At the end, readers have the opportunity to name each of the seasons themselves.
This is an any-time book that you can pick up in any season. It is great not just for emerging readers, but also toddlers and preschool-aged kids still listening to books. The scenery offers the reader (adult) a chance to ask listeners to identify objects from the text (leaves, pool, flowers, snow) or from the photos (trees, chair, house, and colors).
Danny’s Five Little Pumpkins
written and photographed by Mia Coulton
page count: 16
word count: 51
On this fence there are five little pumpkins. One by one they disappear. Who is taking them away?
You won’t see Danny (or more specifically parts of Danny) on every page, but you see him frequently enough that kids will look for him as they explore the pictures. This easy reader blends math (subtraction) with reading practice that ends with Danny and five jack-o-lanterns.
written and photographed by Mia Coulton
page count: 16
word count: 57
There are lots of things you can do in the snow: walk, dive, look at your shadow, even play in an igloo.
The text is simple but each sentence centers around action verbs. With several two-syllable words, this is a book where you’ll want to have young readers follow under the word with a finger so they can truly parse the digraphs and sounds. Kids will especially love the picture of Danny and Bee at the end.
MaryRuth Books has 30 of its titles that you can read on BigUniverse.com. These engaging books will help young dog, cat, fish, elephant, or horse lovers build their word banks AND a love of reading.
Literacy involves reading, writing, and thinking. Learning new words (vocabulary) plays a significant role in each of those areas.
Part of writing well involves using vocabulary correctly.
What are some ways you develop vocabulary skills for yourself?
What are some ways you develop vocabulary skills in students?
What are some ways you demonstrate vocabulary skills?
What are some ways you assess vocabulary skills?
What can you do today to learn and use a new word?
Here are some LiveBinders full of resources and activities for word work and vocabulary:
I also did an advanced search on Big Universe Learning for the term vocabulary, and found lots of books that deal with word families and letter sounds, which are the building blocks of vocabulary words. Teacher Created Material Publishing is the publisher of many books of this type on Learning Village.
You can also search the Big Universe Learning Blog for several other posts dealing with vocabulary and working with words.
image from http://www.flickr.com/photos/91485322@N00/1800380489/
Do you think the title is a bit of an exaggeration? Can you think of some books or stories that include lots of exaggeration? That is one of the features of Tall Tales!
Wonderopolis shares a Wonder of the Day each day about a topic to promote thinking and conversations. One day this week the Wonder of the Day was “Why do they call it a Tall Tale?” To go along with this question, you can find basic information, vocabulary words, questions to promote thinking, and even other resources for finding out more about tall tales. There is even a lesson promoting the reading of tall tales as well as an activity to encourage writing a tall tale.
Focusing on reading types of stories, like tall tales, was something I really enjoyed when I was in the classroom. We would do studies where we would explore many examples of a certain type and then talk about the similarities and characteristics we found. I also liked to introduce a variety of vocabulary words that could be associated with that story type.
Here is some of the information Wonderopolis shares about tall tales:
Tall tales” are stories that are told as if they were true but contain exaggerated or unbelievable parts. Some tall tales are exaggerations of real events, while others are completely make-believe. Tall tales are usually very funny because the exaggerations in the story tend to be the main focus of the whole story.
A key part of American folk literature, tall tales are believed to have started from the bragging contests that tough American frontiersmen would start when they gathered around a fire. Most tall tales come from the 1800s, when courageous explorers had exciting adventures on their way to the Wild West.
If you were looking for interesting ways for students to write and “publish” their own tall tales, the Writing section in BigUniverse could be an option to use!
Even though it is not a traditional tall tale, you might also want to check out this tall tale: Sitka Rose by Shelly Gill. This story could be used as an example of the type of tall tale stories students could write. Students could work in groups to identify the characteristics of tall tales which are evident in this story.
Here are some ways you can use technology to support the study of, as well as the creation of tall tales in the classroom: http://www.vickiblackwell.com/talltales.html
Are there some tall tales that you enjoy reading? What are some ways you teach about tall tales?
I think it is important for children to use a wide variety of words in both speaking and writing. My students and I would label words as either a 2cent word or a 5dollar word. I wanted them to use more 5dollar words. What could I do to encourage them to learn those types of words and begin to use them more?
Traditional vocabulary instruction consists mainly of providing students with a list of words and then asking them to use the dictionary to find definitions and possibly write some sentences with those words. I don’t know about you, but I don’t remember many of the words that I “learned” that way even if I made a 100 on the test at the end of the week.
In my classroom I tried to expose children to new words in reading. I tried to pick books to read aloud that would have some of those 5dollar words. My classroom often had large lists around the room for students to add words they encountered that they considered 5dollar words. There were days when students were challenged to try to use at least one 5dollar word. At the end of the day or the next day, we would talk about the words they chose and how they used them.
As I was searching for some vocabulary information the other day, I came across a site called VocabSushi, and one paragraph really stood out to me:
“The VocabSushi philosophy believes you can learn the meanings of words faster, more accurately and more efficiently by reading through sentences rather than just trying to memorize definitions. Many words, for example, commonly appear with other words – such as “an egregious error” or “an intrepid reporter” – which can clue the reader in on the word’s appropriate usage as well as its general meaning.”
Think of all the books you have access to (especially the ones at BigUniverse) that could be used to increase the vocabulary knowledge of children. I know that when I read with my 4 year old, we talk about the words that are interesting to her (and the ones that are fun for her to say). I don’t why it surprises me when I hear her using those words the next day …
image from http://www.flickr.com/photos/94168846@N00/5413729128/
Increasing a child’s vocabulary has a direct impact on reading and comprehension. But how does one go about teaching and reinforcing vocabulary?
Teaching isolated words and definitions don’t make an impact on students if the words are not used and forgotten quickly. We learn to read better by reading. We learn to talk better by talking. We can build our vocabulary by learning and using new words both in reading and talking.
Vocabulary is crucial for success in both reading and writing. I want to assist students in gaining new words, but I am not really sure how to accomplish this goal. My school experiences with vocabulary consisted mainly of the teacher handing students lists of words, then the students were instructed to use dictionaries to find definitions. Definitions were memorized only to pass the vocabulary test at the end of the week. After the weekly test, those vocabulary words were rarely referred to again. The lack of usage of vocabulary words did not encourage the memory of the words, so they were quickly forgotten. That is not how I want vocabulary instruction to be in my class. I want students to have repeated exposure to and experience with the words.
Knowing and understanding vocabulary is critical to reading comprehension. Books (like ones you can find on Big Universe) that are read aloud to students can be excellent sources of sophisticated vocabulary words. That makes the Reading Aloud component of a Balanced Literacy Program one of the most highly recommended ways for encouraging language and literacy. The teacher read-aloud is a major opportunity for children to learn the meanings of new words. As children listen to the teacher read, and as they read, they have many opportunities to add words to their vocabulary. Those words that are added can later be used in talking and writing opportunities.
Here are some other resources on the Read Aloud Component:
One of the skills you can focus on in a Balanced Literacy Program involves what to do when you are reading and you encounter a word that you don’t know. I have had lots of students tell me that they just skip the word and keep reading (which can present problems when trying to determine the meaning of the story or passage). I have also had several students tell me that they stop and focus on that figuring out that word so much that they forget what they were reading. To help students fall in the middle of those two extreme, I have used the Guess the Covered Word activity. I have used this activity as a whole group activity during a Teacher Directed reading time, but it has worked better when working with small groups during Guided Reading time. During the Guided Reading time, I could moves students between groups so I was able to work with the ones who specifically needed this skill. This could also be a great activity to use during Working With Words time in the Balanced Literacy Program.
Here is a detailed PowerPoint (good for younger students) about Guess the Covered Word from Cheryl Dick. This presentation goes over each step in the process. (I tried to embed it here but it wouldn’t work)
Here are some resources you might find helpful for Guess the Covered Word:
Title: Paws, Claws, Hands, and Feet
Author: Kimberly Hutmacher
Illustrator: Sherry Rogers
Published: 2009 Sylvan Dell Publishing
Paws, Claws, Hands, and Feet by Kimberly Hutmacher is a rhythmic rhyming book about animals and how they use their appendages. A book like this is especially helpful for exposing children to a variety of verbs that they may not ordinarily use. When asked to describe what feet can do, many of my lower elementary students would say: walk, run, stand, hop, or jump. After reading this book, they discover that feet can also: cling, leap, dash, roam, etc.
Our 2nd and 3rd graders are beginning an animal inquiry. After choosing an animal and researching basic facts about the animal, they will organize their findings and present information to the class. Big Universe’s Book Creator is a great way to showcase their findings. As a bonus, students can create their own rhyming couplets similar to the style seen in Paws, Claws, Hands, and Feet.
Keisa Williams (aka Ms. K) is a K-5 School Librarian at Monarch Academy, a public charter school in Oakland, CA. She is certified in secondary and elementary education (MLIS and MEd) and loves collaborating with teachers and integrating technology into her library lessons. She considers herself a “Technology Diva” and “Gadget Junkie”.
Where do you get inspiration for writing? How do you think of the words you want to use?Imagine a room with word lists hanging all around – not just one “word wall” but words everywhere all over the room.
When I teach writing, I encourage students to not use the same words over and over again (I call these “worn out” or “boring” words). I have very large lists of interesting synonyms for some “boring” words. Students enjoy finding new words to use. Sometimes a student will find one of the words in a book. They get to share that “treasure find” with the class by reading the sentence that contains the word along with a few of the sentences around it. If students use any of the “list words” when they write, they get to use a marker or colored pencil to draw a circle around the word. There are times when students find other words that can be added to the list of synonyms, so we add those words. I guess I try to create “word detectives” in my classroom.
When students find interesting words while reading, they can present those to the class by writing that word on a sentence strip or index card and decorating it. If that new interesting word belongs with a synonym list on the wall, we add it. If the new word doesn’t fit in any of the lists, then we add it to the “look what I found” category.
We also do various activities with these word lists. They are a great “time filler” to use when lining up or transitioning from one activity to another.We can do word sorts based on syllables, vowels, number of letters, plural, prefix/suffix, antonyms. We can also create word webs by brainstorming words that sound the same, have similar parts, start with the same prefix, end with the same suffix, have the same base or root.
At times I hang up all the lists all around the room (the fire marshal does not like that too much). Other times I post lists that are related to what we are reading or studying in other subjects. When words all around the room gets to be too much, we have folders full of synonym lists for students to use. We could also use table tents, pocket charts, or containers to post words, but the huge word lists hanging around the room really capture student attention.
We’ve all heard that when children are young, their minds are like sponges. We want to fill their brain with background knowledge and vocabulary so that they may easily use this knowledge when necessary. Reading aloud is an excellent way to help build your child’s vocabulary. Your child will certainly learn new words just by listening and through every day conversation, but here are a few tips to help build your child’s vocabulary explicitly through read alouds:
- Begin with high-frequency sight words when reading with preschoolers. These are the words that appear frequently in writing, but are less common in every day conversation. Children should be able to say the word on sight. These words are essential to vocabulary development.
- Use the pictures to help your child make connections to word meanings. Point to the picture in the text when reading an unknown word.
- If you come across a word when reading, and you aren’t sure if your child knows what it means, ask him. This is a perfect opportunity to provide quick vocabulary instruction. A one to two sentence explanation may be sufficient enough.
- If your child still has difficulty with vocabulary words, consider creating pictures (either drawing them or printing them online) to help make connections between words and their meanings. Also consider labeling items in your house (banister, stairs, fireplace, chair, etc.)
- Word learning is enhanced through repeated readings of text, which provides opportunities to revise and refine word meanings (Kindle, 2009; Carey, 1978). So, even though you may get tired of reading the same story over and over again, your child is actually morphing through several stages of word knowledge as you do: from never heard it, to sounds familiar, to it has something to do with, to well known (Kindle, 2009; Dale, 1965).
Most important of all: don’t be afraid to read books that have large words in them. Fancy Nancy is a great series of books for girls that provide explicit vocabulary instruction through the story. I know a few preschool girls who use words like “exquisite” and “furious” – and they use them correctly!
This post was inspired by: Vocabulary Development During Read Alouds: Primary Practices by Karen J. Kindle (The Reading Teacher, 2009).
Dawn Little (aka Links to Literacy) also blogs at www.teachingwithpicturebooks.wordpress.com where she provides educators with picture book lessons based on comprehension strategies and the Six Traits of Writing. In addition, she blogs at www.literacytoolbox.wordpress.com where she provides educators and parents with tips and tools to enhance the literacy lives of children. She is the founder and owner of Links to Literacy, a company dedicated to providing interactive literacy experiences for children and families. Find out more at www.linkstoliteracy.com