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Why This is Important

Vocabulary is the students’ knowledge of and memory for word meanings. A strong vocabulary improves all areas of communication—listening, speaking, reading, and writing. 

Goals for Strong Readers

  • Learn and use new words through various activities.  
  • Build a large receptive vocabulary (words students understand when they are read or spoken to).   
  • Enhance expressive vocabulary (words students know well enough to use in speaking and writing).   

Quick Activity

Have your child pick a picture or photograph without you seeing. Close your eyes and have your child describe the details in the picture, without giving away what it is. Encourage your child to give you as many details as possible. Guess what the picture is based on the description. Switch roles. 

More Activities and Games

Use this vocabulary word list for the next three activities.

Write words with the same prefixes or suffixes on small pieces of paper and post them on the wall or place on the table. Read aloud the meaning of each word. Have your child swat the word that matches the meaning with the swatter (or a hand). Example:   

  • Ask: What word means: to politely refuse?    
  • Answer: decline 

Write sentences on strips of paper with vocabulary words missing. Have your child pull a sentence from a jar and read it aloud.  Have your child fill in the missing word (you may have a list of words for your child to choose from). Have your child explain his or her reasoning for using the word by giving the meaning and using it in context . Example: 

  • We cannot use the refrigerator now because it is ____________. 
  • List of words (optional): functioning, inoperable, working 
  • We cannot use the refrigerator now because it is inoperable. 
  • Inoperable means it does not work. 
Helps with writing

Read a text of your child’s choice. For fiction texts, which are made-up stories, have your child draw a picture that represents a part of the story. For non-fiction texts, have your child label the picture using vocabulary words from the text. Non-fiction is real information with facts such as news articles, biographies, and how-to books. Encourage your child to write a paragraph explaining the drawing. 

Hot Seat
Helps with speaking and listening

Come up with a word but do not tell your child. Have your child ask you yes or no questions to determine the word. The questions should be about the meaning of the word, not about its letters, sounds, or word parts. After your child guesses the correct vocabulary word, switch roles.

Example questions include:

  • Does the word involve movement?
  • Is it an adjective? A verb? A feeling? An adverb?
  • Do you use this word when referring to animals?