"The Gift of the Magi" Vocabulary Activities
- Grades: 9–12
- Unit Plan:
Students will complete vocabulary activities that will require them to define, use, and apply the words. This will help them incorporate the words into their personal vocabularies and improve their reading comprehension skills.
- Define vocabulary words
- Apply vocabulary words to real life situations
- Work cooperatively to use vocabulary words in meaningful sentences
- The Gift of the Magi Vocabulary Worksheet (PDF)
- Vocabulary Application Worksheet (PDF)
- A good dictionary
Set Up and Prepare
- Read "The Gift of the Magi" by O. Henry.
- Either on your own, or with your students, identify at least ten difficult words from the story.
- Write the words on the board prior to the students entering the room on the day of this lesson. Make sure you leave room for the definitions and a sentence using the word. Make sure you've created a meaningful sentence for each word that can be given as an example.
- Make copies of the handouts for the class.
(These activities can be used for any short story, novel or poem.)
- Have students write down the words in their notebooks.
- Say each word out loud and have the students repeat after you so that they know how to pronounce the words properly.
- Ask students if there is a word that they already know how to define or can use in a sentence.
- As students volunteer definitions, tweak them and put a workable definition on the board along with your example sentence. Compare the class's definition with the dictionary definition and discuss any differences you found.
- When you get down to the words that no one knows, use the words in a sentence and ask the students to use context clues in order to figure out the meaning.
- Distribute The Gift of the Magi Vocabulary Worksheet (PDF). Give students time to complete it.
- Have the students switch papers and grade them as a class. Discuss the clue within each sentence that helped them figure out which word to use.
- Distribute the Vocabulary Application Worksheet (PDF). Students should complete this for homework if they don't complete it in class. Tell students to expect a small quiz tomorrow.
- Distribute The Gift of the Magi Vocabulary Worksheet (PDF), minus the definitions at the top, and tell the students that it's a quiz.
- After they're done, break the class into groups of no more than three.
- Explain that as a group they are to create meaningful sentences that use the words.
- Explain that meaningful sentences are those that contain a clue that helps the reader figure out what the word means.
- After they've had time to brainstorm and compose their sentences, have each group go to the board and write its sentence for at least one of the words.
- As a class, determine whose sentences are meaningful and whose aren't. Turn it into a competition and give points for each meaningful sentence.
- Read the story for homework.
Give students a home assignment: Ask people in your home questions that involve the vocabulary words. For example, "What are some things that are inconsequential to you?" Use this opportunity to teach them some new words if they don't know them.
- Define the words.
- Use the words to fill in the blanks.
- Apply words to real life situations.
- Create meaningful sentences.
- Do you think the students have a clearer understanding of the parts of the story in which the vocabulary words appear?
- Have you noticed students incorporating the words into their conversations?
- How well did the students do on the small quiz?
- How meaningful were the group sentences?
- How well did the students complete the second worksheet?