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Vocabulary Building Activities:

1) Vocabulary Bookmarks (McLaughlin, 2010): In this activity, students jot down a word
they find interesting and would like to share with the class. On the book mark the student
will write down:
a. What the word is
b. What they think it means based on context clues
c. The page number to locate the word
This activity is found in the text book Content Area Reading Teaching and Learning in an age of
Multiple Literacies. McLaughlin explains that this activity is designed to encourage students to
take charge of their learning new vocabulary words. Students are encouraged to create a
vocabulary bookmark each day from class reading. In my classroom that would be words chosen
from assigned reading from our current book study for the day. The word should be one the
student find interesting as well as a word the student thinks the class should learn. In my
classroom during our reading time each child will select a premade bookmark to take to their
chosen reading space. As they are reading they will come across a new word or a word they find
particularly interesting. The student will then jot down that word on their book mark (if they
have their own copy of the current reading, highlight it in their book) filling out each space
including what they think the word means and where others will find the word in the book. I will
also have a space on their bookmark for them to add the title of the current reading or title of
where to word is found. At the end of the reading time we will reconvene as a class and share
the words we discovered. We will check to see if our guesses were correct and jot down the
correct meaning on our vocabulary bookmarks. We will also add the word to our class word
wall. Students will keep their bookmarks inside a special alphabetized pocket in their vocabulary
journals for future reference.
2) Vocabulary Self Selection (McLaughlin, 2010): During reading students are instructed to
select a word they are interested in learning more about. Similar to Vocabulary
Bookmarks students will jot down a few things:
a. The word they select in context( the phrase or sentence)
b. What they think the word means based on context clues
c. The page number (and book) to locate the word.
d. Why they think the word should be added to the class list of words
Found within the text book, Content Area Reading Teaching and Learning in an Age of Multiple
Literacies is Vocabulary Self Selection. This activity is designed for use with nonfiction
reading, but could be used with reading fiction. Similar to Vocabulary bookmarks, students will
monitor and choose words that are of particular interest to them. This will keep students
motivated and invested in their own learning. This activity I would ask students to open their
vocabulary journals to a fresh page. As they are reading, perhaps a textbook or another non-
fiction book for background knowledge, they will select a word of interest to them. They will
write down the word along with the sentence or phrase that the word is found within. Next they
will note what they think the word means along with the title of the text, page number and why
they feel the class should add it to the class list. Again, at the end of the class time (maybe 15
min for this activity), students will share their words, meanings and why they feel it should be
added to the word wall. We will explore the meaning of the word in the context, discuss
alternate meanings and add the word to the class word wall.
3) Morphemic Analysis: (Rasinki, Padak, Newton & Newton, 2011)
a. Systematically teach root words, suffixes and prefixes with the meaning from
b. Allow students to decode or find meaning in new words with the Latin or Greek
terms they learned
c. Allow students to experiment with creating new words using what they have
learned and sharing the definition of their new word
This strategy was found in the Reading Teacher (Oct. 2011), volume 65 (2), pg 133-141. In it the
authors display a compelling argument for structured teaching of Latin and Greek roots in
elementary classrooms. These roots are found through-out our English language in literature,
Science, Social Studies and Math textbooks. A chart is provided to show what roots would be
most useful to teach first. In my classroom I would make this a daily lesson with a focus on 1-3
roots per week. In a 1
grade classroom less can be more. On Monday, I would write the
prefix tri-on the board. I would ask students if they know of any words that have tri in it (
tricycle, triangle will come up at some point). I will ask the students to use their dry erase
markers to draw a tricycle, triangle and any other words we brainstorm on their desks. We will
think about what tri might mean. Once we decide that tri means 3, then we will draw in our
Greek/Latin vocabulary folders Tri-and list the words and pictures we brainstormed. On
Tuesday we will use our knowledge of tri to decipher new words. On Wednesday we will work
in groups to use the Greek and Latin terms we know to create new words. By using a structured
method of small lessons weekly, students will be able to decode new words they run across in
other subjects as well as their reading. This strategy is excellent for students ability to decode
new and unfamiliar words throughout their lives.
A chart of roots to teach provided in the article:
Table Elementary Level Latin and Greek Roots and Affixes Prefixes Definition
a-, ab-, abs- away, from
ad- to, toward, add to
co-, com-, con-, col- with, together
de- own, off of
di-, dif-, dis- apart, in different directions,
ex- out
in-, im-, il- in, on, into (directional)
in-, im-, il- not (negative)
pre- before
pro- forward, ahead
re- back, again
sub- under, below
tra-, tran-, trans- across, change
un- not (negative)
Parallel Latin and Greek prefixes Definition
Latin Greek
contra-, contro-, counter- anti- against
circu-, circum- peri- around
multi- poly- many
super-, sur- hyper- over
sub- hypo- under, below
Bases Definition
audi-, audit- hear, listen
cred-, credit- believe
cur-, curs-, cours- run, go
dict- say, tell, speak
duc-, duct- lead
fac-, fic-, fact-, fect- do, make
graph-, gram- write, draw
mis-, mit- to send
mov-, mot-, mobil- move
pon-, pos-, posit- put, place
port- carry
scrib-, script, write
terr- earth
vid-, vis- see
Numerical bases (appear at beginning
of words) Definition
uni- one
bi- two
tri- three
Parallel Latin and Greek bases Definition
Latin Greek
aqua - hydro- water
ped- pod- foot, feet
terr- geo- earth
Suffixes Definition
-able, ible can, able to be done
-arium, -orium place for, container for
-er more
-est most
-ful full of
-ify to make
-less without
-or, -er one who does
-ose, -ous-, -eous, -ious full of
Note. Order of roots is not sequential.
The suggested teaching method from the author:
Day 1
1. Create a list of English words that contain a particular Latin or Greek root or affix (e.g., tricycle, triangle, triathlon).
2. List the words on a display board or chart (as well as on students' individual sheets).
3. Guide students in dividing the target affix or root from the rest of the word and using the essential meaning of the root or affix
to determine the meaning of the word. Draw students' attention to how the use of tri has changed the meaning of the words in
very consistent ways.
* Tricycle, tri + cycle, a bike with three wheels
* Triangle, tri + angle, a shape with 3 angles (corners) and 3 sides
* Triathlon, tri + athlon, a contest made up of 3 separate events
4. Explore other words that contain the affix or root and attempt to determine how the affix or root has influenced the meaning of
each word.
* triple, triplet, triceratops, triannual, trifocal, trifold
Day 25. On the following day of instruction, create a Word Spoke word wall by entering the affix tri and the number 3 on the
center of a chart or display board. Circle the affix and number.
6. On spokes coming from the center circle, enter words containing tri as well as a brief definition or description of each word.
7. Put the Word Spoke word wall on display in the classroom. Encourage students (including yourself) to begin to purposefully
use the words on the Word Spoke in their own oral and written language throughout the next several days.
4) Creating a Picture Memory: (Davis, 2010)
a. Students will be given a list of vocabulary words relevant to their current unit of
b. The class will discuss the meaning of the words together
c. At the table with teacher support, students will use artistic tools to create a picture
to represent the meaning of the word in their notebook.
d. Students will form groups and use a form of Pictionary or charades to draw or act
out their words together.

This strategy is modified from The Gift of Dyslexia. In the book, Davis explains that dyslexics
thinking in pictures and must create a picture memory in order to add to their word bank. This
makes perfect sense to me. As a young teacher, at Great Lakes Academy we used vocabulary
curriculum called Wordly Wise. In conjunction with the curriculum, I hand students notecards to
write the word on one side and draw a picture of the word on the other. The picture may be an
action (as in a word like kick) or a realistic picture(wasp). Later in the week we would use our
cards to play charades or Pictionary. At the end of the week we would add our cards to previous
weeks to play a review game of Pictionary or charades. I found great success with this with all
levels of students. Just as Davis pointed out, dyslexics need a picture to form a memory. I
believe children of all ages need to form a picture of the words they learn to create a memory
that will last. You may be asking, will this strategy work with bigger words or older students?
Absolutely! Words like ostentatious can be drawn as a person with a lot of jewelry and a big
house and giant showy objects. The key is the picture must represent the meaning of the word to
the student. When dealing with the word ostentatious with my students, some used a queen,
others an old lady, still others a mansion. The pictures must accurately reflect the meaning, but
also it must be of particular meaning to the student. With this in mind, I believe even college
students could find a word they were uncomfortable with, research it and then create a picture in
their mind (finally on paper) that accurately represents that word. This can also be used in
conjunction with creating cartoon strips utilizing vocabulary words.
5) Evoc: This is electronic strategies to teach vocabulary. I found an excellent article
containing numerous strategies at
There were too many too choose so I plan to add each to this project at a later date. For
the purpose of this project I will include the first. In Wordles, students choose a word and
create a picture online of that word using other words that relate to the original. The
example given is bee. Using wordles, a swarm of words (because bees swarm) is
utilized, the picture contains words such as sting, pollinate, poison,. Please the picture
below for an example:

I believe the way I would use this activity would be with a topic we are exploring in
Science, Social Studies, Math or Language Arts. For example when we read Little House
on the Prairie There were numerous words that related to the story. Perhaps each student
would choose a word, gun, woods, home, pioneer, hog,,. The students would then
utilize the website to create a picture containing related words.
This could be used with our Solar System or Volcano units. I believe one unique use to
build math vocabulary could be utilizing math terms. The author of the article suggests
that this be used as a preview activity to build background knowledge, I see this as an
excellent way to conclude a unit. As an extension, students could choose words from
their clouds to explore more, for example in the bee example pollinate might be a word to
explore further.
a) Choose a word from current unit (or teacher assigned)
b) Go to
c) Create a cloud in a shape that represents your word with other words
pertaining to your object
d) Print and share your picture with your classmates
The author of this article stresses how important building vocabulary is for student success.
There is an increased need for use of electronics across curriculum as well as to build
vocabulary. Out of the numerous choices listed, I chose wordless, because I feel in a 1
classroom children would find enjoyment in creating a picture of vocabulary in this way. I
believe even with the smaller words, pollinate inside the picture of the bee would become
engrained in the childs memory.
Lesson Plan:
Subject: Language Arts (as part of our Science unit on animals)
Grade Level: 3rd
Objectives: I (students) will be able to identify the meaning of words based on context
clues, I (students) will create an end project using multimedia to show my knowledge of
TEKS: Language Arts 4b, Technology 1(a)
Six Vocabulary Words: clutched, downy, clambered, anxious, peculiar, perched, sultry,
limp, babble, graceful, clumsy, muse
Materials: The book Stellaluna, 144 notecards, art supplies, vocabulary journals, chart
paper already prepared as shown
Procedures: We will gather in the back of the room as we do for reading time. Today, I
will read aloud Stellaluna, a book we have read previously for enjoyment. Students will be
asked to listen carefully for interesting words from the story. I will pause frequently during the
story to ask questions, and except students ideas about what words they would like to explore
further. We will write the words on a piece of chart paper previously prepared with 3 columns
Word/pg # What we think the word means Were we correct? Alternative meaning?
Clutched held yes

When we complete the reading we should have approximately 12 words.
We will then take out our vocabulary journals and begin working in groups of 3 to determine the
meaning of the 12 words we discovered. Students will be allowed to read the words in context to
brainstorm the correct meaning. (15 min allowed)
The reporter for each group will have a turn to share what they think 3 words mean and the class
will decide together if the meanings are correct and the chart will be completed. (20 min)
The next activity will be for children (individually) to write the vocabulary word on one side of a
notecard and draw a picture of the meaning for each word on the other side. (30 min)

Student Reflection/Assessment: The following day students will be given the opportunity
to display their knowledge of the words through varying activities. As a review we will play a
round of charades/Pictionary with the list of words (25 min), then students will be allowed to
Create a picture of 1 or more words meaning using wordles (
Then choose one of the following activities:
1) Create a comic strip using 3 or more words
2) Write a story using 3 or more words and digitally record the story for others
3) Create a crossword puzzle of all 12 words


Dalton, B., Grisham, D. 10 ways to use technology to build vocabulary. Reading rockets.
Retrieved April 10, 2014 from
Davis, R. (2010) The gift of dyslexia. City: Perigree Trade.
McLaughlin, M. (2010). Content area reading: Teaching and learning in an age of multiple
Literacies. Boston: Pearson Education.
Rasinski, T., Padak, N. Newton, J. Newton, E. (2011). The Latin Greek connection. Reading
Teacher. 65(2), 133-141.