Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Vocabulary Development

One of my favorite books about Vocabulary Instruction is Bringing Words To Life by Isabel Beck.

In it she says: Studies estimate that of 100 unfamiliar words met in reading, between 5-15 will be learned. She goes on to saying, "A robust approach to vocabulary involves directly explaining the meanings of words along with thought provoking, playful, and interactive follow up. Playful...that is right up my alley! One way I playfully review vocabulary is with my own version of this game:

This game is all the rage among the 8-10 year old group now. My fourth grade daughter went to a birthday party this past week and the birthday girl got 2 of these. We can use this same idea in our classrooms to reinforce vocabulary. This is super simple, I just write the vocabulary words we are working on right now on cards (many being content area or science/social studies words). Students meet up with a few friends, an elastic headband and a set of vocab cards. The player pulls a card without looking at it and places it in the headband so the other students can see the word. The other students give the child with the headband three meaningful clues related to the mystery word to help the child guess what it is. My third graders really had fun with this and as the teacher, the clues given help me determine who really has a good grasp of the vocabulary.

What do you do to reinforce the meanings of your new words?


  1. Cute game. Using content area vocab makes a lot of sense.

  2. I love it! My niece got HedBanz for Christmas and I realize now my first thought was "How can I use this at school?" But then school started again and I got busy. I'm going out to buy headbands tonight and we'll be playing next week. Thanks for the terrific idea! P.S. - I'm a follower now and looking forward to your other great ideas!


  3. We play a version of this game as a class to review vocabulary words, but it always bugs me that there is only one student guessing the word with three others providing clues - that leaves way too many of my kids not directly engaged! After your idea with the headbands I'm excited for them to play in small groups instead - much more practice! Thank you!


  4. Thanks for great posts! As I was reading my thought jumped to a quick test that I did with my kiddos. I called it "Signal Me"- I would say a word first. Then ask the kids to signal to me. 1-finger; I don't know the word and have never heard it. 2-fingers; I've heard the word but, I'm not sure of the meaning. 3- fingers; I've heard it and could use it in a sentence. 4 -fingers; I know the word and can give a correct definition. (I learned that my students picked up on the signaled #2 and #3 MUCH faster than if the majority gave me 1.)
    You're an amazing teacher and your blog is wonderful. Thank you (I hope I didn't over step offering other ideas.)

  5. Interesting! Leaning new words have always been burdensome for many students, as it is an abstract skill. Therefore, just learning new words without keeping it in the memory will put all your efforts in vain. So visit for learning new words with thematic learning, gamified way and also with personalized sessions. Be connected.