What is Vocabulary?
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 4th and 5th grade, readers determine the meaning of unknown and multiple- meaning words/phrases, recognize and interpret figurative language, and expand their vocabulary to include words that signal precise actions, emotions, states of being, contrast, and other relationships. Learn about figurative language here.
What Does it Look Like?
Can your fourth grader figure out the meaning of new words?
Is your 5th grader building vocabulary from reading?
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.
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.
Synonym/Antonym Brainstorm: Name a word. Take turns brainstorming words that mean the same thing as the word that was named. Alternate antonym version: Play the game brainstorming words that mean the opposite of the word that was named.
Affix Activity: Using newspapers, magazines, cookbooks, or storybooks, have the child search for words with a targeted prefix or suffix, writing the words found on a piece of paper. Once several words have been found, work together to break the words into the affix (prefix or suffix) and root word and explain what the word means (e.g., “I found the word unthinkable! If I break it into the root and affixes, it is un-think- able. That means that if something is unthinkable, you are not able to think of it.”).
Word Categories: Play a word association game with your child. Call out a category name, and take turns brainstorming other words that make you think of the category word (e.g., “The category is weather.” “Thunderstorm!” “Snow!” “Cumulus Clouds!” “Typhoon!). Afterward, have the child sort the words into other categories, based on their similarities. Have the child explain what is similar about all of the words in their new categories (e.g., “I put train, monorail, boats, and strollers in the same category because they are all types of transportation people use at theme parks.”).
Sharing Our Writing: Consider connecting your child with a relative or pen-pal as a meaningful opportunity for your child to practice their writing skills. This could be through email or hand-written letters. Encourage your child to add descriptive words throughout and to incorporate new vocabulary they have been learning.
H, H, & H: Take notice of the three unique word types listed below while the child is reading or while you read to them. Isolate the word and discuss how variations can differ in spelling, pronunciation, and meaning.
Practice Activities (with Printables)
If you don't have a printer, your child's school will print these for you.
Homograph Hook: Match words that sound the same but have different meanings with the cards provided. Homograph Hook
Homophone Go-Fish: Match homophones with their meanings by playing a card game. Homophone Go-Fish
Opposite Meanings: Match words with opposite meanings while playing with the domino-like cards provided. Opposite Meanings
Synonym Bingo: Play this spin on the classic bingo game for practice identifying synonyms of the called word. Synonym Bingo
Up with Words: Practice using more precise language in writing by using synonyms to complete the provided sentence cards. Up with Words
Meaning Extender: Draw cards with specific questions around new vocabulary words and apply the new words to a variety of contexts. Meaning Extender
Context Clues: Assist the child in determining the meaning of unfamiliar words by reading context clues. Then sort the words by type. Context Clues
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.
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.
Grammar Gladiator: This game provide practice with articles, verbs, homophones, and punctuation while unleashing fireballs from dangerous lava vents.
Prefix Popper: This game has children match a prefix to its meaning while popping balloons.