Active Word Play


Hi, everyone, it’s Andrea from Reading Toward the Stars!  I am so honored and pleased to be here while Emily loves on her precious new bundle of joy!

I just returned rejuvenated and refreshed from our state reading conference.  I gained so many new ideas and am excited to share some quick and easy vocabulary ideas.

I had the honor of spending a session with Jane Feber, author of Active Word Play.  And that is exactly what we did!  Though I don’t do much with the upper grades this year, she was able to bring everything down to lower levels for us too.

We had so much fun, and many of these ideas can be done with things you have right there in your classroom ~ no copying or even scissors!  How cool is that?!  And the best part ~ students are engaged while learning!!

The first thing we made was a super simple graphic organizer called “Four Flaps”.  Have you ever made a cootie catcher or fortune teller?  I remember back in 4th grade making my first one and being hooked.  For this, all you have to do is make the beginning of a cootie catcher, so it looks like this.  Then all the students do is write their vocabulary words on the outside flaps.  Under the inside flaps, the students can do several different things.  The one she suggested is to write an example under the top of the flap and a non-example under the flap. Here is an example with synonym/antonym and example/non-example.  {And colored paper is so powerful!!}

outside flaps
inside flaps

Another easy idea is based on the Frayer Model. Click {here} for some background on the Frayer Model for vocabulary. There are so many different templates out there, but your students can make one just by folding a piece of paper.  I used to do this all the time when our school used the Four Square Method for teaching writing, but this one will make two on a page, resulting in FOUR Frayer Models!  Here is my example.

The folding
Two different examples

In a Frayer Model, students use various ways to show what a given word means.  The original follows the model of Definition, Example, Non-example, and Sentence, but there are so many other ways to think about words and concepts as well with a Frayer Model.   This helps students to think beyond the simple definition of the word  to enhance vocabulary skills.

The final vocabulary strategy I am sharing is perfect for this time of year:  March Madness!  How many of you have a bracket?  This was one of my favorites because it really makes students think.  Students put the vocabulary words in a bracket and then decide which words “win” because of qualities.  For example, students put the words “benevolent” and “boisterous” in the first bracket.  The students then write their rationale for each winner.  The student in the example chose “benevolent” to win because it is better to be benevolent all the time than boisterous all the time.  They felt it was a better quality, and they felt that even benevolent people could be boisterous at times.  I just love that this makes the students think about what the words really mean!  Though students could make their own brackets, I have created a template that they can use the first few times they do the activity.  You can grab it by clicking {here} or on the picture below.

I remember learning vocabulary all through school and never using it again.  Though I remember some of the “fun” words, I don’t remember a lot of what I learned.  Students will have fun as they learn vocabulary in different ways.

What are some ways you help students learn vocabulary in your classroom?

Thanks, again, Emily for letting me post on your blog today!  I really enjoyed being here and helping you out during such a fun and exciting time!


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