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Having a strong vocabulary is critical in so many aspects of our lives. Reading a good book, enjoying the newspaper or magazine, conversing with your boss, making an important presentation … each of these activities have one common thread. The better your vocabulary skills, the easier it is. We’ve found that learning vocabulary through literature provides excellent context and is a fun and gentle way to learn new words.
Let’s face it though – for many kids, vocabulary isn’t exactly a favorite subject. So how do you teach such an important subject that doesn’t necessarily lend itself to anything exciting? First, it helps to have a foundation understanding why vocabulary is so important. Click here for a good, concise article from Scholastic that answers questions such as “What words do I teach?” and “How do I teach?”.
Classic literature lays a wonderful foundation for broadening vocabulary. Like I mentioned before, learning new vocabulary through literature allows a connection to the word and its use. Each of our World Study Guides includes a vocabulary section with words from the specific book being read. These vocabulary cards can be used in any number of ways:
- For our classic World Study Guides (lapbook style), print and cut out the vocabulary cards (there are 24 words included with each World Study Guide, along with a page of 8 blank cards). Decide if you will be using the definitions provided to stick/glue to the back of each card, or have your child hand-write the definitions. Both options are provided and explained in the World Study Guide. With our newer World Study Guides (notebook style), all of the words are provided on a single notebooking page, with blank lines for writing the definition.
- Have your child research the word list prior to reading the book to become familiar with new words they may encounter. Here are some of the resources we use:
- The twins use both the The Kingfisher Children’s Illustrated Dictionary and Thesaurus and Merriam-Webster Children’s Dictionary from DK Publishing
- My oldest uses Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary and New American Roget’s College Thesaurus in Dictionary Form
- Don’t worry if you aren’t familiar with some of the words yourself. Each World Study Guide includes a handy answer key to help you out.
- As your child reads the book, remind them to look for their new vocabulary words. Also, if they come across any words they don’t know that aren’t included in our list, have them use the blank cards/additional vocabulary pages to research those new words.
Be sure to keep in mind the context in which the word is used; in classic literature words often held a different meaning than what we traditionally think of today.
- Completed vocabulary cards can be used like flash cards to help remember troublesome words. Your child can either look at the word and say the definition or vice-versa.
- Utilize online resources like SpellingCity.com for fun activities to reinforce your vocabulary list.
- Find ways to include your new vocabulary words into everyday conversation. This can be quite fun and challenging!