Vocabulary for 3rd Grade

What is Vocabulary?

Family with fruit trees around them.

Vocabulary refers to knowledge of the meanings of individual words being read. Vocabulary knowledge is important to a student’s ability to read and comprehend what is read. (Definition from University of Oregon)

In 3rd grade, readers are able to determine the meaning of unknown and multiple- meaning words or phrases, distinguish shades of meaning among related words, and use vocabulary about time and space relationships.

What Does it Look Like?

Can your 3rd grader figure out the meaning of new words?

How to build vocabulary with read alouds.

Use root words, prefixes, affixes, and inflections to figure out the meaning of words.

Practice Activities

Model Rich Vocabulary: Use more sophisticated and descriptive language instead of trying to simplify your language so the child will always understand (e.g., Instead of: “Wow! You’re working hard!” Try: “Wow! You are persevering through a really challenging task!”).  If you think that your child may not understand, stop and take time to discuss the less familiar words.

Introducing New Words: Assist the child in learning the new word by following these steps:

  • Provide a child-friendly definition of the word.
  • Give a child-friendly example that connects to their prior knowledge or daily life.
  • Ask your child to give their own example.
  • Keep new words active by using them at home or in the car during conversation.

My Dictionary: Help the child keep track of new/unfamiliar words and their meanings by helping the child create their own dictionary or word catcher.  The child can write the words, draw pictures to illustrate the word or definition, and write sentences using the words.

Homemade Headlines: Cut out the headlines from a newspaper (old or new).  From each headline, cut out one word.  Have the child read the headline and include new words to create their own silly titles or stories.  If your child has specific vocabulary they are learning at school, use those words as a word bank to complete the activity.

Family Vocabulary Project: Create a decorative jar or container to initiate a vocabulary building family project.  Family members can write down new vocabulary words they read or hear and include the definition on the back.  The vocabulary words are shared, discussed, and added to the jar.  Family members can include the new words in their everyday writing and speaking.  You may even choose to make a “word of the day” or “word of the week” to help focus the family on using one or two of the newly learned words.

Practice Activities (with Printables)

If you don't have a printer, your child's school will print these for you.

What a Word: Use the included passage and word bank to complete the story.  What a Word

Extreme Words: Explore the relationships between descriptive words.  Talk about the provided words and their meaning to determine the order (e.g., giggle, chuckle, whimper, cry).  Extreme Words

Synonym-Antonym Connections: Use the cards included to help the child identify synonyms and antonyms.  Synonyms have similar meaning and antonyms have opposite meanings.  Synonym-Antonym Connections

Homograph Hitch: Match words that sound the same but have different meanings with the cards provided.  Homograph Hitch

Oh My Word!: Have the child write simple explanations, sentences, and synonyms of words in this activity.  Oh My Word!

Online Activities

Vocabulary Crossword Puzzle: This game has children apply vocabulary as they complete a crossword puzzle by matching a definition and word from a given list.

Magnet Sentences: This game has children pick a word that doesn't make sense in a word and use a word that gives meaning to the sentence in its place.

Vocab Vik: This game has children match words to a given vocabulary word.

ANTonyms: This game has children find the matching ants to form antonym pairs.

Word Shark: This game has children practice parts of speech (nouns, verbs, and adjectives) by having sharks gobble up smaller fish with the correct part of speech.