vocabulary development

Halloween Context Clues

Posted by on Sep 21, 2016 in comprehension, vocabulary, vocabulary development, vocabulary tips | 0 comments

Students need to be able to determine the meaning of words that they encounter in text. Context provides many types of clues to the meaning of words. Sometimes, especially in textbooks or student news magazines a definition is stated or an explanation or restatement is added. Students need to learn to watch for this information and to use it. Often a synonym for the word may be used within the paragraph. By paying attention to this new information, students can gain understanding of a word. When a contrasting idea is given, an antonym might help the student determine word meaning. A prefix or suffix on a word can add to student understanding of its meaning. Often students can use their background knowledge mixed with the clues in the text to make an inference. The simplest help in learning the word might be found in an illustration.


I’ve made a page for students to add to their interactive notebook to remind them to look for different types of context clues.



I feel using context clues should be fun, so I have created a Halloween Context Clues Scavenger Hunt. Students can be out of their seats while determining the meaning of words. I have found that students love a chance to move. This product is available at my TPT store and includes the context clues material above (plus several other pages on context clues)  as well as 16 scavenger hunt cards asking students to determine the meaning of words.



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World of Words Wednesdays

Posted by on Jun 22, 2016 in Uncategorized, vocabulary, vocabulary development | 0 comments

World of Words Wednesday


Each Wednesday I plan to present words in English that come from other languages. I find this to be interesting and I am hoping to make it interesting for students in grades 3 – 5. It is really cool how our language incorporates words from other languages!

First up some plant and animal names that come from Native American Algonquian words.

caribou which means “snow shoveler”

muskrat which means “bob (at the surface of the water) head”

opossum which means “white dog”

pecan which means “nut”

persimmon which means “fruit, berry”

skunk which means “to urinate” + “fox”

woodchuck comes from reshaped words meaning “wood” and “chuck”



Each week I will include a vocabulary card that can be used in your classroom. Sets of cards may be found in my Teacher Pay Teachers store.

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Monday Word of the Day “Adapt”: Third Grade Social Studies

Posted by on Jan 26, 2015 in vocabulary, vocabulary development, vocabulary tips, word of the day | 0 comments

Robert Marzano has created lists of 30 Core Content words that are needed by students for each subject at each grade level to be successful. To help my students understand these important words I have created small posters with the word, definition, a sentence, and an illustration. Sometimes the cards vary and contain synonyms, examples, or other helpful strategies to provide students access to the meaning.

The first word for third grade social studies is adapt. What an important concept! Being able to adapt is a major component of a successful life. With some discussion and examples, students are usually easily able to grasp this concept. It is helpful to students to point out throughout the year when adaptations have been made.



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Vocabulary Development

Vocabulary Development


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Introducing Tuesday’s Vocabulary Tips

Posted by on Aug 12, 2014 in vocabulary, vocabulary development, vocabulary tips | 0 comments

Read, read, read. Read good books. You will strengthen your understanding of story. Your vocabulary will be the richer for it.

~ Carmen Agra Deedy


When we are learning, it is so important to gain the vocabulary of the subject. Children need to be exposed to the new vocabulary in a much deeper way than the presentation of the word and its definition. In fact, if given just the word and the definition, no real learning can happen. Without forming connections to the new vocabulary, without making it a new and enchanting idea that captivates the students’ minds, the new words just remain words.

There are many ways to help students discover new words. The most effective is probably having the child in a situation where they discover a NEED for the words. Going back to infancy when their vocabulary was growing rapidly, a need for language is a powerful learning tool. Think of second language learners. Their language grows much more quickly when there is a need for it. Project based learning is a current strategy in education which can provide students with a need for new language. I plan to explore this in the future!

Every Tuesday, I am planning to explore ways and provide tips to improve vocabulary instruction and learning.

I am beginning this week with the Frayer Model. The Frayer Model is a graphic organizer having four squares with a circle in the middle for the new word. This strategy should not be used as an introduction to new words! It could be used whole class after an introductory lesson as a formative assessment of the students’ understandings. It could also be used as a review strategy to help students organize their thinking to prepare for a test. A page could be kept in an interactive notebook to add new understandings and thoughts to throughout instruction.



The organizer above is the original version of the Model. There are many variations available. The purpose of this instructional strategyis to promote critical thinking and help students identify and understand unfamiliar vocabulary. It can be used with the entire class, small groups, or for individual work. The Frayer Model draws on a student’s prior knowledge to build connections among new concepts and creates a visual reference by which students learn to compare attributes and examples. Here is an example of a model that could be used with primary stdents.

Slide1Frayer Model Primary

Have a great day!




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Summer Writing

Posted by on May 11, 2014 in conversation as learning tool, vocabulary, vocabulary development | 0 comments

Summer Writing

“If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.”
― Toni Morrison

Writing is a good way to stretch vocabulary development. As students struggle to find a perfect word they may try out words on the edge of their understanding. This effort to find the right word can lead to conversations about why or why not that new word works in that context. These conversations can lead to other new words to try.

Reading Recovery Council of North America makes these suggestions what works when using writing to increase vocabulary:


  • Engaging the child in meaningful conversations when constructing messages
  • Guiding the child to use his oral language to compose  a message or story and then to write it, encouraging increasingly more complex messages

Writing is an important component of language building. This prereading activity also makes a great prewriting activity.

List – Group – Label

List all of the words you can think of that are related to the topic. Once you have created your list, group the words based on their similarities. Label each group when you are finished. Students can then write a paragraph from the ideas for each label.

When used as a prewriting strategy, this activity helps students organize prior knowledge, as well as try out new words for writing and/or have conversations about needed words that are not clearly known or understood.


Summer List Group Label

I have created a Summer Writing Flapbook to keep my students engaged in writing throughout the summer. It has 32 small writing tasks, so maybe every three days they can stop for a short while and write. The prompts include lists, research, fiction, narrative, and research writing. They also have a choice in what they write.

Summer Writing Flapbook



The June page has the option of a father and son silhouette instead of father and daughter. It also has the option of a “My Hero” writing for students who don’t celebrate Father’s Day.



Each month has a calendar for students to circle, then write about, important dates in their lives. All of the pages in the Summer Writing Flapbook are also included in black and white.

Do you have any summer writing ideas that you would like to share?


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Visualize Vocabulary: Culture

Posted by on Mar 16, 2014 in Freebies, vocabulary development | 2 comments

Visualize Vocabulary: Culture

A nation’s culture resides in the hearts and in the soul of its people.

~ Mahatma Gandhi


I have neglected my blog. I think its neglect is based on my lack of focus. I haven’t or hadn’t found a purpose for my blog. My blog name screams to me that it has a purpose, but I’ve ignored that for a mish mash of items with no purpose.

The purpose of my blog is not:

  • to talk about day to day problems at school
  • to share ideas of others that I’ve loved or learned from
  • simply to sell my products from TpT or TN

Then what is its purpose?

I really want to:

  • build (discover, decode, dissect, develop, discuss, define) vocabulary in ways that will help upper elementary teachers (grades 3 – 5?) work with their students
  • share materials that help build vocabulary
  • and as appropriate, point to products on TpT (mine or others, paid or free) that will provide additional support.

I am thinking that I might make “Visualize Vocabulary” a weekly topic. I will get my word from what I am working on for my classroom or from where I perceive a need. I hope that I can build a good blog from this idea.

My first topic is actually Texas culture. My students are supposed to learn about the culture of their state. I realized that they did not have a good understanding of the word culture to build from. Culture has so many parts.

Culture Defined

culture defined
As we discussed the parts, students began to build a definition of culture. I asked students to explore their family culture.

Culture Bubble Map

This bubble map can be reused anytime a new country or culture is explored.  After a basic understanding of culture was built we looked at the culture of Texas.

Texas Culture


Students used this reading to locate facts about Texas culture. They needed to use the various text features to complete the activity. This page works well as a close reading.


Please let me know if this blog post is of value to you and if you feel others like this might be helpful.



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