Teaching vocabulary can be one of the most critical skills for readers (especially struggling readers). Many times, students just skip over important vocabulary without using the context clues or word parts to help them. Children really need to be taught how to identify important vocabulary words and examine them to understand why they are used in the text.
Here are some simple ways to teach and highlight important vocabulary:
- After reading a passage, have students identify 1-3 important vocabulary words within the passage. Reflect on the words by considering why the author chose those specific words. This can lead into an important discussion about word choice.
- Have students draw a picture with the vocabulary word in action. This can help engage visualization skills while fully understanding the vocabulary word in context.
- Encourage students to write sentences, paragraphs, or stories with vocabulary words. This type of extension activity allows students to make deeper connections with the vocabulary.
- Use challenging vocabulary as you speak! This one seems silly but kids absolutely love it. Asking students, “Could you please leave the door ajar when you leave the room?” rather than “open” is a great model for how vocabulary can impact the way we speak.
- Teach and practice context clues. Kids need explicit instruction in understanding how the words before and after a word help decipher the vocabulary word’s meaning. This really is a critical academic skill that kids will use all the way up to middle school, high school, college, and beyond. I like to use vocabulary context clues task cards for extended practice in groups.
- Use graphic organizers when students read passages and stories. The graphic organizers should highlight important vocabulary words, helping students to pull apart those words. Use these free vocabulary graphic organizers to help you teach vocabulary skills in your classroom.
Have fun teaching critical vocabulary skills in your classroom.