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January 5, 2017 Games and Activities to Build Student Vocabulary By Genia Connell
Grades 1–2, 3–5

    As a third grade teacher, I'm frequently doing formal and informal comprehension checks on my students. Over the years, I've noticed a direct tie to a student's success in reading and their functional vocabulary. In other words, the more words my students know, the better he or she is able to read and understand.

    In an effort to expose my students to new words and increase the breadth of their vocabulary, I rely on several games and activities that help make learning words, word parts, definitions, synonyms, antonyms, and idioms fun. This week I'm happy to share with you some of the activities I use in my classroom with the hope that your students will have fun while their vocabularies and comprehension strengthen.

     

    Idioms Are a Piece of Cake (With an Idiom Dictionary!)

    Third graders are pretty literal. (Any Amelia Bedelia story will convince you of that!) I love teaching about idioms to expand my students' knowledge of expressions that we use in our everyday language. After introducing idioms and sharing meanings using an Idiom Dictionary, students try their hand at illustrating common idioms before they write out the literal meaning and what the saying actually means when someone uses it. 

    Idioms are a Piece of Cake ActivityIdioms are a Piece of Cake Activity

    Idioms are a Piece of Cake Activity

    Idioms are a Piece of Cake ActivityIdioms are a Piece of Cake Activity

    Idioms are a Piece of Cake ActivityIdioms are a Piece of Cake Activity

    Idioms are a Piece of Cake Activity

    If you'd like to do this with your students, some fun idioms to use include:

    • Idioms are a Piece of Cake Activitybutterflies in your stomach
    • barking up the wrong tree
    • head in the clouds
    • in a jam
    • can't teach an old dog new tricks
    • raining cats and dogs
    • pot calling the kettle black
    • read between the lines
    • apple doesn't fall far from the tree
    • out of the blue
    • easy as pie
    • leopard can't change its spots
    • don't cross the line
    • change of heart
    • eyes are bigger than your stomach
    • all thumbs
    • green thumb
    • don't cry over spilled milk
    • hold your horses
    • cat got your tongue

     

     

    Matching Games

    Word work time is made even better when I add matching games to the mix. These games work well for prefixes and suffixes, as well as for synonyms and antonyms. My students also make their own games using index cards. 

    To make your life easier, I've shared the synonym and antonym cards I use below. To play, print, cut, and shuffle the cards before placing them facedown. Students take turns trying to match words that mean the same for the synonym cards or opposite for the antonym cards.

    "Synonym" Rolls

    Games and Activities to Build Student Vocabulary Games and Activities to Build Student Vocabulary

    Games and Activities to Build Student Vocabulary

     

    Ant-onym Matching Card Game

    Print and cut the 48 word cards below to play a matching game with your students. 

    Games and Activities to Build Student Vocabulary Games and Activities to Build Student Vocabulary

     

    Vocabulary Spinner

    I print this spinner out on cardstock, cut out the arrow spinner, and attach with a brass fastener. It's perfect for vocabulary lists from any part of the curriculum along with spelling lists. Laminate the spinner before you attach the arrow and it will last for several school years. 

    Games and Activities to Build Student Vocabulary

     

    Kahoot! Quizzes

    Challenge your students' language skills with Kahoot quizzes. It's easy to set up multiple-choice quizzes that your students can interact with in real time. They are perfect for reviewing any word list you are using. My students even use their reference books to create their own Kahoot! quizzes to share with the class. 

    Games and Activities to Build Student Vocabulary

     

    My Favorite Resources to Use with Vocabulary Work

    My set of reference books is the gift that keeps on giving to my students. The collection below is used almost daily by students who grab one or more of the books off the shelf to help with writing and their morning word work. If you can lay your hands on this set, or even just a few of the titles that are sold separately, I highly recommend it! 

    If you ever want to make vocabulary flash cards or games, I also recommend using one of Scholastic's greatest free tools, Word Workshop.   If you have yet to check this wonder tool out, do it now!

     

    When I first received my pack of reference books, I thought they might sit on the shelf. Little did I know my kids would literally create their own "waiting list" to use them during class. If you have some extra cash, bonus points, or a book wish list, you will not regret adding these books to your classroom library

    As a third grade teacher, I'm frequently doing formal and informal comprehension checks on my students. Over the years, I've noticed a direct tie to a student's success in reading and their functional vocabulary. In other words, the more words my students know, the better he or she is able to read and understand.

    In an effort to expose my students to new words and increase the breadth of their vocabulary, I rely on several games and activities that help make learning words, word parts, definitions, synonyms, antonyms, and idioms fun. This week I'm happy to share with you some of the activities I use in my classroom with the hope that your students will have fun while their vocabularies and comprehension strengthen.

     

    Idioms Are a Piece of Cake (With an Idiom Dictionary!)

    Third graders are pretty literal. (Any Amelia Bedelia story will convince you of that!) I love teaching about idioms to expand my students' knowledge of expressions that we use in our everyday language. After introducing idioms and sharing meanings using an Idiom Dictionary, students try their hand at illustrating common idioms before they write out the literal meaning and what the saying actually means when someone uses it. 

    Idioms are a Piece of Cake ActivityIdioms are a Piece of Cake Activity

    Idioms are a Piece of Cake Activity

    Idioms are a Piece of Cake ActivityIdioms are a Piece of Cake Activity

    Idioms are a Piece of Cake ActivityIdioms are a Piece of Cake Activity

    Idioms are a Piece of Cake Activity

    If you'd like to do this with your students, some fun idioms to use include:

    • Idioms are a Piece of Cake Activitybutterflies in your stomach
    • barking up the wrong tree
    • head in the clouds
    • in a jam
    • can't teach an old dog new tricks
    • raining cats and dogs
    • pot calling the kettle black
    • read between the lines
    • apple doesn't fall far from the tree
    • out of the blue
    • easy as pie
    • leopard can't change its spots
    • don't cross the line
    • change of heart
    • eyes are bigger than your stomach
    • all thumbs
    • green thumb
    • don't cry over spilled milk
    • hold your horses
    • cat got your tongue

     

     

    Matching Games

    Word work time is made even better when I add matching games to the mix. These games work well for prefixes and suffixes, as well as for synonyms and antonyms. My students also make their own games using index cards. 

    To make your life easier, I've shared the synonym and antonym cards I use below. To play, print, cut, and shuffle the cards before placing them facedown. Students take turns trying to match words that mean the same for the synonym cards or opposite for the antonym cards.

    "Synonym" Rolls

    Games and Activities to Build Student Vocabulary Games and Activities to Build Student Vocabulary

    Games and Activities to Build Student Vocabulary

     

    Ant-onym Matching Card Game

    Print and cut the 48 word cards below to play a matching game with your students. 

    Games and Activities to Build Student Vocabulary Games and Activities to Build Student Vocabulary

     

    Vocabulary Spinner

    I print this spinner out on cardstock, cut out the arrow spinner, and attach with a brass fastener. It's perfect for vocabulary lists from any part of the curriculum along with spelling lists. Laminate the spinner before you attach the arrow and it will last for several school years. 

    Games and Activities to Build Student Vocabulary

     

    Kahoot! Quizzes

    Challenge your students' language skills with Kahoot quizzes. It's easy to set up multiple-choice quizzes that your students can interact with in real time. They are perfect for reviewing any word list you are using. My students even use their reference books to create their own Kahoot! quizzes to share with the class. 

    Games and Activities to Build Student Vocabulary

     

    My Favorite Resources to Use with Vocabulary Work

    My set of reference books is the gift that keeps on giving to my students. The collection below is used almost daily by students who grab one or more of the books off the shelf to help with writing and their morning word work. If you can lay your hands on this set, or even just a few of the titles that are sold separately, I highly recommend it! 

    If you ever want to make vocabulary flash cards or games, I also recommend using one of Scholastic's greatest free tools, Word Workshop.   If you have yet to check this wonder tool out, do it now!

     

    When I first received my pack of reference books, I thought they might sit on the shelf. Little did I know my kids would literally create their own "waiting list" to use them during class. If you have some extra cash, bonus points, or a book wish list, you will not regret adding these books to your classroom library

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