Are you required to teach a list of vocabulary words each week? Vocabulary words are a very important piece of teaching students to read. Learning and mastering essential vocabulary words can be achieved through vocabulary graphic organizers, vocabulary templates, no-prep vocabulary worksheets, vocabulary games, and a vocabulary display for your classroom wall!
Before we jump into the activities, if you prefer to see some of these activities in action, check out the video below!
Vocabulary Words of the Week in Journals
At the beginning of the week, we take two days to introduce all of our new vocabulary words for the week. When the words are introduced the teacher shows the word and a picture to match the word. The students take turns guessing what the word means. Finally the teacher reads the definition with the students. The students help the teacher determine an action that will represent the vocabulary word. This is a very important piece because research shows that when kinesthetics are included into learning, students are better able to retain the new information. All week this action is paired with the word whenever it is read or said. The students then write the word and definition onto their Words of the Week sheet and place it into the vocabulary journal for future reference.
Vocabulary journals should be a staple in every classroom. Vocabulary journals can take the form of a stapled packet, coil binded book, or hole punched binder. The purpose of a vocabulary journal is to have a place for students to keep all of their vocabulary practice and a place for them to look back and reference past vocabulary words. I love adding the vocabulary journals the parent teacher conference portfolios. I also love to have students bring their vocabulary journals back to the reading table during reading groups to reference or add information.
Free Editable Word Cards
Every week we put our new vocabulary words on cards. These cards are used all week for a variety of games and activities. At the end of the week, the students take the cards home to practice and keep. Download a free copy of the editable vocabulary cards here.
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Vocabulary Headbandz is a fun game that students love. Simply print off your vocabulary words onto these free editable vocabulary cards. Each student attaches a vocabulary word card to their headband. The youngest participant takes the first turn. Then play passes to the left. When it’s your turn, just flip over the timer and ask each of the players a question that will help you figure out what the picture is on your head. Once you’ve asked each player a question, simply begin another round and then another. If you guess the vocabulary word before the timer runs out, simply take another card and put it behind your headband. Continue to ask questions until the timer runs out. For each vocabulary word that is guessed correctly, you get a point. The player with the most points at the end of the game is the winner.
If you don’t own the Headbandz game, the headbands could be made from sentence strips and binder clips.
Memory (also known as Concentration) can be played two different ways. Students can have two stack of vocabulary words and take turns turning over two cards in an effort to get a match. Each time a card is turned, the student turning the card has to read the word aloud and use it in a sentence. If the student gets a match, he/she can keep the match and go again. If the student does not get a match, the next player takes a turn. Another variation of the game would be to have one copy of cards have the vocabulary words printed on them. The other set of cards has the definitions printed on them.
Teacher Tip: Use two different colors of paper when printing the cards. Also, choose a dark color or make copies on card stock paper so the answers don’t show through the back side of the card.
Vocabulary displays can be a powerful instructional tool. Complete the vocabulary posters with the students. Provide the students with their own vocabulary mini-posters to complete with the teacher. If you have more than one word per day, make multiple copies of each word and display them all. Leave this information up on the wall all week and at the end of the week, the expo marker can be wiped off with Lysol wipes or a Mr. Clean magic eraser.
After the class has learned at least twenty-five different vocabulary words, bingo is a great option that students love to play that will provide a great opportunity to review. Students simply write a vocabulary word in each space of their bingo card. The teacher provides the definition of one of the words and the student finds the vocabulary word and covers it with a bingo chip. The first student to get 5 in a row, 4 corners, or black out wins the game.
Roll a Word
Students need a vocabulary word list or stack of word cards. This activity should be played with partners or small groups. Students take turns choosing a card/word. Then student rolls a dice and follows the prompt on the Roll a Word sheet. Other players determine if the answer is correct. Players take turns until the teacher decides that the time is up.
Vocab Short Stories
Writing stories is the ultimate determination of whether or not a student truly understands the meaning of his/her vocabulary words. The teacher writes the vocabulary words that he/she would like the students to use when writing their short stories before making copies. Students need to use all the vocabulary words in context all while forming a short story. This activity comes with templates for 8 words, 10 words, or 12 words as well as with or without space for drawing a picture to match the story.
Parts of Speech
Nouns, verbs, adjectives, and adverbs are an important piece of students learning grammar so why not combine them with vocabulary word practice? Students read the words at the top of their sheet and then sort them into the proper grammar categories. This worksheet is available in 8 words, 10 words, or 12 words templates.
Draw a Word
Drawing detailed pictures of a word’s meaning is another powerful tool to help students learn, understand, and retain a new vocabulary word. The teacher can choose the six words prior to making copies or the student can choose the six trickiest words.
Give each student a vocabulary card with a number. Write the numbers from 1-25 (or however many students you have in your class). Once students get their card, instruct them not to show anyone their card. Provide the students some time to draw the vocabulary word with as many details as possible. The student needs to also include their card number in the corner of their drawing. Write the list of vocabulary words on the board and give each student a recording sheet. Students walk around the classroom and look at each picture. Then they write the vocabulary word answer in the correct box of their recording sheet. Another variation for teachers who want more structure would be to have students sit at their desk while students take turns coming to the front of the class one a a time to explain their picture to the class. Students who are sitting at their desks would need to determine the word that the picture is showing and write the answer on their recording sheet.
Act it Out
Act it Out is similar to Picture This except instead of drawings, the students would use actions. The actions are performed as a group or one at a time in front of the class for the others to guess the vocabulary word and write it on the recording sheet.
Vocabulary Word Mini Posters
Earlier in this post I explained vocabulary displays. When the teacher is completing the vocabulary posters with the students, the students can complete the mini posters and put them in the vocabulary journals. This is a great option to keep the students engaged and actively participating.
Vocabulary dice can be used with any list of vocabulary words. Give each student a list or stack of vocabulary words. Students can do this activity independently or with a partner. Once a word is chosen, the student rolls the dice and follows the prompt on the dice. Answers can be provided verbally or written on a piece of paper or marker board.
Students choose five of the trickiest words from the vocabulary word list. Then the student writes a sentence that shows the meaning of the word in context within the sentence. Students can also color the vocabulary word within the sentence.
What’s included in this 56-page vocabulary pack:
- Vocabulary Journal
- My 5-Day Vocabulary Routine
- Words of the Week
- Vocabulary Words Worksheet
- Vocabulary Mini Posters
- Roll a Word
- Vocabulary Dice
- Vocabulary Bingo
- Vocabulary Short Stories
- Draw a Word
- Parts of Speech
- Vocabulary Sentences
- Act it Out
- Picture This
- Editable Word cards
- Editable Grammar Flip Flaps
- Vocabulary Posters with Display
- Detailed Explanation with Pictures for each Activity