Thursday, April 14, 2016

Vocabulary on the Fly

I'm a big fan of working smarter, not harder, so as I was planning my unit for volume and mass I knew it was jam packed with vocabulary that we'd need to get a handle on. I wanted to find some interactive games and activities that didn't take me hours to prepare. So here we are, vocabulary on the fly!

Clump & Dump

We played clump and dump this week and it only took me about 10 minutes to write the words on cards. I took some index cards and cut them up (I'm running low on supplies!) and had 15 cards for each of my table groups. On those cards I wrote their vocabulary words related to our math topic of volume and mass. I gave them their "dumpster" of words, now we need to "clump" them into categories. At first I let them choose their own categories, to see how they found them to relate to each other. This was really neat to see the connections they made!

After they worked with their group to clump their words, I asked them to now clump them differently. This time I wanted them to have a "volume" category and a "mass" category. This sort allowed me to do a quick check of understanding. I could have started with this, but I was curious to see what they wanted to categorize them on their own. I heard lots of great conversations of why certain words should go with certain categories. They're talking about the vocabulary words and their meanings! You can't beat it!

Charades & Taboo

Charades and Taboo are already such fun games, adding your own vocabulary words to them makes these games easy to explain, play, enjoy, and learn! For charades all you have to do is have your vocabulary words written on slips of paper. A student will then pick a piece of paper and they must act out that vocabulary word without saying anything! I like to have my students in the audience write their guesses on white boards, so they're practicing the spelling of the vocab and it keeps it from getting a little too crazy.

For taboo, you have the vocabulary word at the top of the card and have 3-4 words of phrases below it that cannot be used to describe it. You could spend some time making your own cards, or better yet, let your students make the cards! They have to come up with the top 3-4 words that describe that vocabulary word. I loved seeing the connections they made to words, like for mountain one student wrote avelanch! I wouldn't think of that one right away, but makes sense! The actual game of taboo is exciting as well because you see students really thinking about the vocab and describing it in different ways than the typical definition. 

Graphic Organizers & Frayer Model

Before you really get into the games, I like to do graphic organizers or the frayer model with my students so they can look at each word a little more in depth. My students know the drill when it comes to the frayer model and draw their own box divided into fourths. The first box is the definition, then an example, then the vocabulary word used in a sentence, and finally a picture. To spice it up from the typical frayer boxes I sometimes let my students create their own graphic organizers. No need to run copies when students create their own sort of map with squiggly clouds, bubbles, or geometric shapes. They enjoy making it their own, but by having it split up into sections they can use each section for a purpose such as the definition, examples, synonyms, non-examples, etc. These activities are very meaningful to organize their thoughts and explore the words in more ways than one. It also doesn't take a lot of time, so you can make graphic organizers on the fly!

If you are fortunate enough to have ipads in your classroom I really recommend the app "popplet". Popplet allows you to make virtual bubble maps where you can type text, make pictures with a draw feature, upload photos from the camera roll or web, and embed links or videos from the web. It's fairly easy to do, so after a quick tutorial your kiddos can be independent and make bubble maps in minutes!

Mini Books

Last but not least, I suggest having a place where your students can keep all of their vocabulary. I wish I had room for a word wall in my classroom but space is tight, so all of my students have their own personal "word wall" or mini vocabulary booklet. In the past I've spent hours assembling booklets with borders, clipart, and fun font. I've also spent 5 minutes getting out paper and told my students to make their own- guess what they liked better? They LOVE to personalize their own booklet, and the fact that it's mini makes it even niftier! They can be made with just paper folded in half or if you can get your hands on some paper bags those can be used for the cover. Those take a little longer to assemble, but the kiddos love the crinkly vintage look they have.

I hope you enjoy these little fun ways to bring vocabulary into your lesson plans! I think the most meaningful games are ones the children help create. It saves you time, but most importantly it brings some higher order thinking to those kiddos by creating it themselves!

Rock on,


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