Adventures in Literacy Land: Vocabulary

Showing posts with label Vocabulary. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Vocabulary. Show all posts

Sowing The Seeds Of Vocabulary (Part Three)

Hi! This is Heather from Campfire Curriculum with Helpful Heather.  Research says children that struggle with comprehension also struggle with vocabulary.  This three-part series lends quick and easy ways to expand your students' vocabulary and also strengthen their overall comprehension. Revisit Sowing The Seeds Of Vocabulary (Part One) to help you understand and implement vocabulary in your classroom.  The second post (Part Two) will remind you how important it is to use Marzano's Vocabulary Process and Multiple Intelligence Theory to reach all students. This post (Part Three) will walk you through implementing vocabulary whole group and small group.  Enjoy engaging your students with vocabulary throughout this new school year and beyond!

Sowing The Seeds Of Vocabulary (Part Two)

Hi! This is Heather from Campfire Curriculum with Helpful Heather.  As we discussed in Part One research says children that struggle with comprehension also struggle with vocabulary.  This three part series lends quick and easy ways to expand your students' vocabulary and also strengthen their overall comprehension.  Please revisit Sowing The Seeds Of Vocabulary (Part One) to help you understand and implement vocabulary in your classroom.  This post (Part Two) will remind you how important it is to use Marzano's Vocabulary Process and Multiple Intelligence Theory to reach all students!

Sowing The Seeds Of Vocabulary (Part One)

Hi! This is Heather from Campfire Curriculum with Helpful Heather.  Research says children that struggle with comprehension also struggle with vocabulary.  Wouldn't you like to have quick and easy ways to expand your students' vocabulary and also strengthen their overall comprehension? Sowing The Seeds Of Vocabulary (the first in a series) will walk you through understanding and implementing vocabulary in your classroom.  Read this post and your students will thank you profusely. (See what I did there?)


A Quick & Easy Way to Teach Vocabulary

 I want to share my favorite vocabulary activity with you!  One of the great things about this Vocabulary Graphic Organizer is that it can be used K-5 and across all subject areas.  There is a free copy of the organizer later in this post.

I want to share my favorite vocabulary activity with you!  One of the great things about this Vocabulary Graphic Organizer is that it can be used K-5 and across all subject areas.  There is a free copy of the organizer later in this post.


Encourage Imagination and Oral Storytelling with Spot

Encourage students and children to use their imagination to tell stories.  The Spot app provides a platform to support this.

With each new set of students that we meet each year, one thing has become increasingly evident: oral language needs to be strengthened.  This could be for a number of reasons: more screen time, meals on the go, less playtime (recess too), or other changes in a culture.  But regardless of the reasons, as teachers we have to support language development.  Without oral language skills, comprehension, writing, and math explanations are much more difficult.  So what can we do?


Celebrating Columbus Day

Celebrating Columbus Day with kindergartners can include reading, singing, writing and making a ship. Here are a few ideas for teaching our early learners.

In 1492...Read a Book

One of my favorite books for Columbus Day is In 1492 by Jean Marzollo.  The book is written in rhyme and engages the students.  We read the entire book Monday, but return to the text for a variety of facts during the week.


Math and Literacy Connection: Vocabulary

One of the big connections between math and literacy is teaching academic vocabulary.  Without understanding of key vocabulary in math, students will struggle with each concept.  Because a teacher cannot assume that students will automatically understand content vocabulary, the teacher needs to employ the vocabulary strategies used during literacy instruction to mathematics.

Mathematical literacy is dependent on vocabulary knowledge.  Many of the words have meanings in math that are different from the meanings in every day use.
  • Product
    • something that is manufactured for sale
    • number or expression resulting from the multiplication of two or more numbers or expressions
  • Mean
    • deliberately unkind
    • a number equal to the sum of a set of numbers divided by how many numbers are in the set (average)
Knowing a word is more than just knowing the definition, which means that looking up definitions in the dictionary/glossary is not an effective way to help students create a firm foundation.  A fellow instructional coach and I created an interactive vocabulary strategy to help our students.  We used this strategy in grades PK-12 in all subjects.

The strategy has five steps that are easy to follow and help you create a plan to teach vocabulary more explicitly.

  • Choose the Words
    • The goal of this step is to choose 3 words per topic that are the most important to understanding the concepts being taught.  They are "umbrella" words that other vocabulary would fall under during the study of that topic.
  • Introduce the Words
    • Introduce the words without directly telling students the definitions of the words.  Give clues about the words using images and objects associated with the word.
    • Have students infer the meaning of the word and write a description.  This description is a starting place for their understanding of the word and the description will be modified as they learn more.
  • Infer Meaning using Context Clues
    • Read aloud a passage that has the vocabulary words in context (from a novel, textbook, article, teacher-created paragraph, etc.)
    • Create a class chart with three columns:  word, text clues, inferred meaning.
  • Create a Graphic Representation
    • Model creating a graphic representation (see FREEBIE below for template for this step) of one of the words making sure to think out loud for students about why the graphic was chosen.
    • This is a great step for students to do in groups.
  •   Interact with the Words
    • After being explicitly taught the vocabulary with the above steps, students will begin to interact with the words in a variety of ways:  graphic organizers, games, word association activities, etc. (see FREEBIE for ideas on how to do this)
One last thought (and a freebie) before you go:

CLICK HERE to download this strategy and CLICK HERE to download an example way to interact with the words - Word Association.

What do students think about this strategy?  Here are some direct quotes from eighth grade students:
  • "I think vocabulary strategies this year are a lot stronger than ones last year.  Now I can understand what words mean without struggling to memorize a definition from a dictionary.  Also, things are easier to sink in now."
  • "I love doing the skits and pictures, and I also love Pictionary and the clues.  Last year I didn't like learning vocabulary so much, but this year it's easier to learn the words when we're having fun."
  • "I love doing vocabulary this way instead of just looking up the definition the old way where you just copy out of a glossary.  It was much easier to learn this way."
If you missed the first post in the Math and Literacy Connection Series, go back to read about why the connection is important and learn about another vocabulary strategy - Word Splash.

Next month I will continue the series with poetry...math and poetry make a fantastic connection.

Math and Literacy Connection Series at Adventures in Literacy Land

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Making the Math and Literacy Connection

Two years ago, I connected with some online reading friends and this blog was the result.  The journey has been fantastic.  In celebration of our blog birthday this month, we are reacquainting each of you with our authors and introducing new authors.  We are also doing an awesome giveaway at the end of the month, so keep checking back for more information.
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Last school year, I entered a new realm in my educational life as a math/science instructional coach after being a literacy coach for six years.  I continued to blog here to keep current on what works in literacy instruction.  This year I am excited to focus on blogging about making the literacy connection in math.
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Using the strategies students learn in reading during math, they can become better mathematicians, so they won't have to "chuckle about not being good at math."

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Each month, I will tackle a different topic that will help you make stronger connections between your math and literacy instruction, which will in turn help your students become more confident readers and mathematicians.

As a preview of what is to come, we will kick things off by talking about how to use a common literacy strategy in math:  word splash.

Word splash is a comprehension and vocabulary strategy where words and short phrases about a concept are "splashed" on the whiteboard, Smart Board, windows, or a large piece of paper.  Students create statements that connect at least two words/phrases as predictions about the concept(s) they are about to study.

What I love about using a word splash is it connects the beginning of the lesson to the end of the lesson.  Students make predictions.  You teach them about the concept (in this example - introduction to fractions).  Finally students come back to their predictions and determine which were correct and which were misconceptions.  To turn it into a summarizing activity, you can add some additional words learned through the lesson (examples:  numerator, denominator, thirds, halves) and have students create summary statements (or paragraphs) that connect as many words as possible in a meaningful way.

Word splash is an easy way to facilitate a discussion with students and providing them scaffolds to use the correct terminology.  Word splash is also a great way to give a pre-assessment and post-assessment without giving a "test."

Want to take it to the next level?  Have students create their own word splashes.  OR get the students moving.  Write each word on an index card (or name tag) and give one to each student (or place in random parts of the room).  Give students the opportunity to mingle and talk to each other about what they know about the words for five minutes.  Then have students go back to their seats to write connecting statements individually.

What are the connections to literacy?  So, so many:  making predictions, making connections, vocabulary, writing statements that require students to think about similarities and differences, summarizing.

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Word Work Without Worksheets!


It's Jennifer from Stories and Songs in Second here to share one of those "fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants" lessons that worked wonders yesterday when the copier was broken and my SmartBoard light bulb blew out!

When technology decided not to be my best friend--on a Monday morning no less--I had to pull out my "old school" supplies and improvise our Word Work lesson using the format of a party game that I'd recently seen played on Ellen and had enjoyed with friends a few weeks back.

If you've never experienced Heads Up, it is well worth a ninety-nine cent app download on your phone!  There is also another free app called Charades Kids that has many school-appropriate categories like Dr. Seuss, Fairy Tales, Animal Kingdom, and Countries.

My paper version of the game was easy and quick to make, and provided a new and engaging way for my second graders to meet our new list of Spelling words for the week!  No pencils or worksheets were required, but lots of oral language, phonemic awareness, and word meaning skills were still reviewed and reinforced!

It took me about fifteen minutes to make my word cards from index cards, staple two sentence strips together to make a headband, and cut and attach a sandwich-size Ziploc bag "word pocket" to the front. Once I explained the rules to my group, we had a grand time playing the game together!  Some students even asked to use the materials during indoor recess!

I've pulled together a quick FREEBIE for you {HERE} in case you want to try your own version of this activity!  I've included a 8.5 x 11 template as well as smaller blank word templates that you can print and laminate multiple copies for reuse with dry erase markers!  I hope your students enjoy it!

As always, thanks for sharing my story!  Know that I wish you all the best as your school year winds to a close.  May you continue to teach your children well and share the
wonder of words without worksheets with them!


4 Vocabulary Ideas to Avoid Roadblocks

Hello.  This is Cathy from The W.I.S.E. Owl again.  I love talking about Emergent Readers and Writers.  One common hurdle in reading and writing is vocabulary.  There are some fun ways to help students with vocabulary.

I had the distinct privilege of presenting just recently at the Virginia State Reading Association Conference in Richmond.  One of the workshops was on Vocabulary.  I blogged briefly about this presentation in my latest blog post on my website, but thought I would give you a more in depth look at vocabulary here today.

Anchor Charts/Prediction Posters

I am a big fan of Anchor Charts.  Done the right way, anchor charts are invaluable to your students. Anchor charts can be pre-made but must also allow for editing, if an unsuspected word misunderstanding occurs.  Pre-assessing a book for vocabulary roadblocks is a must.  Pulling out words you believe will create "comprehension potholes" or "run the story off the road" are a must for a successful Read Aloud. Before reading a book, introduce words to your students out of context.  Talk about the meaning.  Demonstrate the meaning.  Discuss how this particular word might be in this book.  You may even want to read the sentence from the story.  Preparing for vocabulary can help students spend time on higher order thinking than on the meaning of a single word.  One type of anchor chart is the Story Map.  Words from the story, both common and new, can be written on post-it notes given to the students before they read the book.  Students will predict if the words belong on the map in provided spaces:  Characters, Setting, Actions (verbs), Things (nouns) and New to You.  If they encounter a word while reading that needs to be moved on the chart...they can easily be moved.  

Text Gradients

I actually LOVE text gradients.  Typically, text gradients are used in the upper elementary but every kindergarten teacher has tried to get her student's to use words more descriptive than small or big.  The famous "said is dead" refrain is heard in every first grade class.  So, let's talk primary text gradients.  A wonderful way "add color" to writing is using paint strips.  (I live in fear of paint strips eventually costing money.)  The paint strips can be put in library pockets in the writing center and students can take a color strip to make their elephant "enormous" or their ladybug "tiny."  


Providing students with diagrams is a great way to introduce vocabulary that is both familiar and unknown.  When studying about bats, my students were excited to learn bats had thumbs.  They look very different from our thumbs, but they are still thumbs.  They were also intrigued by the membranes in their wings.  We compared the membranes to duck's feet.  We even found out turtles, otters and some reptiles have webbed feet.  Diagrams draw the student in and help them write about animals and make comparisons.

Finally, Act it Out

When we were preparing to read The Knight Before Dawn, I introduced some words to the students before we read.  One of the words was "precipice."  I needed to relate Jack dangling from a precipice on the castle tower to the students in my class.  First, I showed them pictures of large cliffs in the desert or on mountains. Then, we went to the playground.  The only cliff they really knew about was the playground equipment.  One at a time, the students went to the edge of the playground equipment and they yelled, "I AM ON THE PRECIPICE!"  Then they were allowed to jump off the "cliff."  Trust me they all knew what a precipice was and when Jack was hanging from the precipice they could anticipate his falling!  That's the power of vocabulary!

These are just a few ways you can make sure to introduce children to wonderful vocabulary words they can use to write, make connections, and understand.



Lucky 7: Vocabulary Ideas for Primary Students

Hi, This is Cathy from The W.I.S.E. Owl.

For those of you that know methis is my favorite vocabulary story. 

A parent who volunteered in my classroom came in to complain.  If you are going to teach our kids new words, you should at least warn the parents.  She explained.  Her son, Conner, was stepping out of his father’s jacked-up truck and missed the step.  When he fell his mom ran to him and asked if he was ok.  “I’m fine, Mom.  I was standing on a precipice and slipped.”  Ahhhhh, the power of vocabulary.

I love the Magic Tree House books.  I mean I really love the Magic Tree House books.  I can teach any skill using these books and I should write my first book about how to use thembut that’s another post.  This is about vocabulary.  So, Conner, the boy from the truck, had heard the word “precipice” when we were reading The Knight Before Dawn.  We discussed the word precipice.  We talked about a ledge or cliff and even walked to the playground to stand on the top of the playground equipment.  Each student stood at the edge and said, “I’m at the precipice.”  So when Jack was hanging from the precipice above the moat, my students were on the edge (or precipice, if you please) of their seat.

Vocabulary is a vital part of reading instruction.  I don’t usually throw around research, but in Bringing Words to Life, Beck, McKeown & Kucan (2002) it is the teacher’s role to “develop an interest and awareness in words beyond vocabulary school assignments in order to adequately build their vocabulary repertoires.”  One presenter stated the average child needs to hear a new word 14 times, but the struggling reader needs to hear it 44 times.  44TIMES. That means we have work to do.

Here are some ideas for sharing vocabulary.

 1.     Post-it© Vocabulary Posters

Students in the classroom or a group are given words on a Post-it©.  They are given a poster with categories.  Students can predict how the words are going to be used.  As the words are discovered in the text, the categories can be confirmed or moved.  Fancy charts can draw a student in and entice them to use a word in their writing. 
2.    Concept Muraling

Students are involved in the vocabulary from the beginning.  When introducing a unit on plants, students helped build a picture with cut-out handprints (it’s more fun to use their handprints, but that can take a lot of time from the lesson).  We made a flower with dirt first.  As we talked about what a flower needs to grow, we added the sun, the soil and the water.  The next week, when the focus was on the parts of a plant, we added the labels for seed, roots, stem, leaves, and flower. 
3.    Anchor Charts for Student Use

I have preached about anchor charts over and over and here’s a perfect time to add anchor charts for vocabulary.  Adding a picture of the book to the poster helps students make connections.  Students are encouraged to use these words in their independent writing and word hunts. 

4.     Text Gradients

I think text gradients are fun.  Most people think of text gradients for older students, but they can be used in kindergarten classrooms, as well.  Students can handle lessons on different gradients for "big" and "little."  We talk about how big and little are great words, but they can be overused.  Just like they wouldn’t want to eat the same food every night, they don’t want to use the same words. Using paint chips in pockets on a bulletin board or in a writing center can give students a colorful visual cue to use “exciting” words.
5.    Frayer Model

Years ago, we had a vocabulary initiative in our school.  Each week, every grade level had a focus word.  They did the Frayer Model during the literacy block daily.  This initiative guaranteed a constant curriculum for the entire grade level.  The Frayer model shows the definition and facts, as well as the examples and non-examples.  We posted the words on the poster for classroom display and the students also had a vocabulary notebook with empty Frayer Models to fill in the vocabulary center.
6.    List Group Label

Starting at the beginning of the year, teachers must teach students to sort by known factors.  Practice with sorting can easily evolve into the List-Group-Label activity.  This activity can develop categorizing skills, build background knowledge, activates critical thinking skills, and grow vocabulary skills in the process.  Students are asked to brainstorm a list of words on a topic.  Then, they group and label how they are grouped.  The picture illustrates how the same list can be labeled in several different ways.
7.    Brace Maps

Finally, I’ve talked about my love of thinking maps and a Brace Map is perfect for developing vocabulary.  Creating a brace map for a clock can help introduce “new” meanings for a face or hands.
As with any exercise, the proof is in the pudding or the lesson is in the writing.  When students are using the vocabulary words in their writing, then you know you made an impact.  My second favorite vocabulary example was used in a Squiggle Center (click here to read all about Squiggles).  While reading Thanksgiving on Thursday, we discussed the word “spit,” but in early December I knew they understood when a student used the word and illustration in their Squiggle Book.  “I see the fish kukg on the spit.  The fish is ovrr the for.” 

Ahh, that is the sweet satisfaction of success.

I hope you have an idea or two to add to your vocabulary instruction.


Vibrant Vocabulary--Royal Ways to Help Your Students Become Word Nerds

A big warm welcome to Jennifer from Stories and Songs in Second who is guest blogging today with some fun ways to help your students with:
Hear Ye!  Hear Ye!
Calling all teachers from far and wide, to and fro, hither and yon!
Are you tired of  using the same old worksheets and four-corner graphic organizers to teach your students word meaning?  Are you looking for ways to transform your daily vocabulary lessons into one of the most engaging, productive, and interactive parts of your instructional day?
Then kindly join me for today's royal edition of Adventures in Literacy Land, and listen well, my friends!  It is I, Jennifer from Stories and Songs in Second, here to share some royal and 
"oh so fancy" ideas gleaned from a resource that has rejuvenated my own instructional practice!
Know that I was absolutely thrilled when my request to guest blog here was accepted, and thank Andrea from Reading Toward the Stars profusely for guiding me through the process!  I just celebrated my one-year "blogiversary" in mid-November, and am both grateful for and humbled by the kindness and generosity this community has shown me.  Their friendship and inspiration have made me a better educator and a better person.
It is with great honor and respect now that I invite you to step inside the castle 
with me now to enjoy.....
Reading, spelling, writing, and vocabulary work were always my favorite subjects in elementary and high school.  The rhythm, rhyme, figurative language, descriptive phrases, and the ability to paint pictures with words always fascinated and enchanted me.  My nose was often in a book, or my pen was always being put to paper--writing in my journal, drafting a short story, or composing a poem.  My love of all things literacy-related continues today in my classroom, and I am always looking for new methods, strategies, activities, or techniques to capture the attention and interest of my young students.

In addition to sharing favorite read alouds from my beloved collection of picture books, I also like to incorporate music into much of my teaching and am not one to sit down at my desk too often.  I am known to dance, chant, move, and groove as needed to keep my class focused and engaged.  I also have a cupboard full of creative props, puppets, and costumes that I bring out and use as needed. In order to do justice to the content of this post and make this thematic study of BIG words and their IMPORTANT MEANINGS come alive for my second graders, I had to dig deep into my royal treasure box!  
A regal tiara, silver scepter, movie star sunglasses, megaphone, microphone, and cheerleader pom-poms are just a few of the royal tools and tricks of the trade I rounded up!  Alas though, I did not come up with velvet cape or a horse-drawn carriage.....or a dashing prince.  But I digress.....
What follows now is a pictorial description of how the planning for and the actual teaching of  vocabulary lessons in the Royal Kingdom of Room #2 this year has unfolded....
This book and the simple, effective, and easy-to-implement ideas inside of it has been a "game-changer" for me.   After two years of rotating between the same Daily 5 Working with Words activities in Kindergarten and first grade, my second graders were in desperate need of something different this fall.  When I stumbled upon Word Nerds by Brenda J. Overturf, Leslie H. Montgomery, and Margot Holmes Smith at my local bookstore, I was at first taken in by the happy, gesturing children on the front cover.  The second thing that intrigued me was the rhymed title, and the fact that it described me.  I am a WORD NERD through and through!  I LOVE VOCABULARY! Whenever one of my students uses a huge "ten dollar word," either in conversation or in their writing, I "kiss their brain."  I am also forever spouting a list of alternatives for words we encounter in our daily reading.  Needless to say, I scooped it up off the shelf, bought it, and sat down to read it right when I got home.  
One hundred and forty-seven pages later, I might have even kissed the cover, and then cried a little bit.  I was hooked.  I had found my kindred spirits.  The three teacher-authors, who work at a school with a low socioeconomic population and a high percentage of at-risk children just like I mine, had found a way to reach and teach them the magic and power found in words.They had found a way to foster confidence in children who didn't have any.  They still used the tried-and-true methods of close readings and four-corner graphic organizers, but they also introduced an activity called Crystal Ball Words where students look deeply into the prefix, suffix, and root of a word to predict its meaning. They use "themed cycles" of words, instead of lists generated by a basal series, that are based on either a non-fiction text they are reading for a subject area like Science or Social Studies, or a picture book they are studying for Language Arts.
Synonym and antonym charts for each of the words listed in the "themed cycle" are created by the students, written on index cards and put in plastic lanyards.  A weekly "Block Party" is  held, where the teacher calls out the vocabulary word and the child wearing that word on his lanyard needs to invite the children wearing his or her related synonyms or antonyms to the party. Test reviews are called celebrations, and often take the form of a game show like Jeopardy, Deal or No Deal, with students writing the questions and each vocabulary word for the teacher to ask. Sometimes students write a song about their word and sing it American Idol style into a microphone. Sometimes students do the limbo while answering vocabulary questions and then enjoy Hawaiian Punch at a class Luau Party afterwards.  Often times, students will act out their words in a Charades-style game. While these activities are just a few of the ideas shared in this resource, Chapter 5 is entitled "Active Vocabulary Practice and is full of innovative, creative, and kinesthetic ways to help children develop the "velcro" they need to understand words and get their meaning to "stick to their brain."  
Word Nerds also includes a wealth of different formative and summative assessment ideas, planning charts, rubrics, and trade books that can be easily adapted and used in the elementary classroom. Working smarter not harder is something I have learned slowly over my 23-year-career, and I appreciate being able to just pull what I need from the appendix and adapt it as needed.  As I started to map out my own implementation plan, I decided to use Fancy Nancy picture, easy reader, and chapter books as my mentor texts because of their rich, royal, and "tres tres chic" supply of synonyms and antonyms.  I also appreciate the glossary that is included at the back of each story!  They make it easy to create both word and definition cards to use as a before-reading reference in my pocket chart, or to use as a matching review game at a literacy station.
Despite her love for all things pink, feathery, sequined, and "girly," the boys in my group adore Fancy Nancy's  humor, frequent clumsiness, and her long, arduous laments about how the rest of her family is just so "plain" instead of "extraordinary."  My entire group also loves the Razzle Dazzle candies I pass out before we meet the new words in every story!  I use them to remind my students how the language we use to express ourselves when we speak, read, and write should be just like the sweet treats in their mouths--fizzy, juicy, flavorful, fabulous, and fun!

I also developed this List of Top Ten Royal Vocabulary Rules based on important precepts outlined in Word Nerds to launch or introduce my unit.    Please humor my use of alliteration.  It just spills out of me, and I cannot help myself.  I also decided to emphasize how exploring new words and understanding their meaning is just like unwrapping a present by packaging the words from our first story, Fancy Nancy Sees Stars, as well as the Royal Vocabulary Rules in gift bags.  This task of removing the tissue paper and ribbon to "dig deep" inside the bag to  unearth the word cards really helped my group grasp how there are often lots of layers or multiple meanings to words that have to be discovered or unearthed!

Each morning,  my class gathers in our group time area to review these 10 V's OF VOCABULARY and go over directions for their partner or small group work choices.  I keep these definition cards on 
a large ring near our "Thinking Chart," and call student volunteers to come up and read them to their peers.  After each rule is read, the entire group shouts out, "Let's make our words fancy!  Just like Nancy!"

Once we've gone through our rule review and warm-up, student pairs or cooperative groups break off to enjoy a variety of practice activities that are easy for me to prep, and designed to expand and extend their knowledge of the words we are studying.  I use little gift bags tied with tags to designate the work areas around our classroom, designate royal helpers to distribute the materials needed for each one from my supply shelves (clipboards, highlighters, Crayola markers, finger trackers, Post-It notes, fun Flair pens, sentence strips, chart paper),  assign children to their Word Nerd Work Stations for the day, and then sit back on my royal throne to eat bon bons! I don't actually eat bon bons or sit on a throne during this time, but I do maintain a "I am just going to walk around our royal kingdom in my tiara and watch, listen, wave royally, help if needed, and shower children with praise and compliments" demeanor!

Each station has lists of our current vocabulary words and definitions that I've copied and laminated, as well as all of the supplies the students will need to be successful Word Nerds.  A short description of each one follows.  Please note that it took a LOT of whole-group modeling and practice for each of these activities before my crew was able to work independently during a 20-30 minute time frame.  My students take their three-ring binder that is pre-loaded with Handwriting Without Tears paper to their daily station, and then use it as a lap desk if they choose to sit on the floor and work.

Worn Out Words--Students generate alternatives for words that are overused in their writing and use chart paper or dry erase boards to generate lists of new ones.  For example, a pair of my students came up with this short list of words to use in place of "big"--huge, mammoth, gigantic. 

Fancy Schmancy Words--Students choose books of interest to them, either non-fiction or fiction, from our classroom library, and use finger flashlights to scan the pages to find interesting or new words inside of them!  They then write their favorite words on Post-Its and add them to our Wall of Words to share with the entire class later.  Dictionaries are also available at this station for students to look up word meanings.

Snazzy Jazzy Synonyms--Students wear star-shaped sunglasses and use bright flourescent-color
sentence strips to write synonyms for our featured words of the week.

Awesome Antonyms--Students sit across from each other knee-to-knee, and gently toss a small Koosh ball or bean bag back-and-forth while calling out an antonym for each word of the week.  For example, the first child says "Alfresco means outside."   The second child then responds "The antonym for alfresco is inside!"

Picture Perfect Words--Students choose a word or two from our list to illustrate for our
Art Gallery of Great Words display!  This then serves as a reference place for the whole class to have a visual clue for each word.  I usually cut white construction paper in half for this station, and the students use their own art supply boxes.  You could also have your students work collaborative to create a colorful Picture Perfect mural on large chart paper!

Picture Perfect Words--Students choose a word or two from our list to illustrate for our
Art Gallery of Great Words display!  This then serves as a reference place for the whole class to have a visual clue for each word.  I usually cut white construction paper in half for this station, and the students use their own art supply boxes.  You could also have your students work collaboratively to create a colorful Picture Perfect mural on large chart paper!  Imagine the possibilities, and encourage them to use the brightest crayons in their boxes!

Lights! Camera! Action! Words--Students act out, sing, chant, rap, cheer, or dance to their words.
They can clap, tap, or snap the syllables as they say each word out loud.  They can make up a jingle to help them remember the word meanings  like "I am a constellation!  I am a shiny sky sensation!"
They can play a game of Charades, where they act out each word for their partner or group to guess and state the meaning.  Because this particular set of activities can get L-O-U-D, I recommend that you play it as a whole group in order to maintain decorum and avoid chaos in your royal kingdom!

Razzle Dazzle Related Words--Students work together to brainstorm a list of other words that relate to the topic or theme of the word study.
Wonder Words--Students "read the room" with a partner--book titles, anchor charts, our Word Wall, labels, etc.-- and write down four favorite words.  They then either "turn and talk" to their neighbor about their words, and state the reason they like each one.  After that, they must "show what they know" by writing "superhero sentences" for each word.

What are "superhero sentences" you ask?  Why, they are sentences that are NOT full of  plain, unassuming, everyday, run-of-the-mill newspaper reporter Clark Kent words!  They are sentences full of vivid, visual, voracious, vast, very fun, vocal, vibrant, vivacious, and effervescent can-leap-tall-buildings-in-a-single-bound Superman words!  They are sentences that include great detail and infused with figurative language that leaps off of the page and literally sparkles!  They are sentences that are full of....

If you'd like to take your students for a magical ride in my royal vocabulary carriage, I will have this FREE starter kit uploaded to my store very soon! It will include the word power cards, anchor charts, and posters described in this post.

or on the picture below to grab your copy!

In closing, I'd like to share one more piece of information that is connected to my personal vs. professional life.  It served as the thematic inspiration for this post, and is "tres tres" good news that I just simply must share!  Thank you in advance for indulging me!

Beginning in late January 2015, my daughter will be performing 
onstage at the 
Emerald City Theater in ......

Know that I cannot wait to applaud her performance as she helps bring skits, songs, and dances about one of my favorite books characters to life!  It honestly makes my teacher and Drama Mama heart swell with pride!  
As I have always told her, I will remind you of the same advice now.  Reach for the stars.  Do what is best for yourself and your students.  Trust your instincts.  Teach them creatively.  Feed their imagination.  Celebrate their shining moments, and .....