I learned the meanings of two new words this week. The words are: plenipotentiary and cogitating. (For fun, see if you can find these words in other blog posts on my Website.)

Since childhood, I’ve been interested in exploring the meanings of words. Yet, I remember having to work hard to do well on vocabulary tests when I was in school.

I’m the type of learner who needs to have a lot of repetition and must use a multi-sensory approach to acquire new vocabulary. Your child may benefit also from a multi-sensory approach, (seeing, hearing, and doing hands-on activities).

As we teach, we have an opportunity to instill a love of reading with fun vocabulary building activities, remembering each child learns differently. It’s important to take into account how each child learns.

Here are some activities to encourage vocabulary acquisition using multi-sensory techniques:

1. Play word games such as I’m “Thinking of a Word.”

Give verbal clues to describe the word. When giving clues, be sure to mention the part of speech to help teach grammar usage. Also, you could say a sentence and then orally give two choices of words to fill in the blank and see if your child can tell which one is correct. (This type of “game” is fun to play while traveling.) Your child could write the word in the air with his pointer finger.

2. Create a word bank using a card file and index cards or using an on-line file.

On the cards, you could write the word neatly and let your child use colored pencils, markers or highlighters to trace over the words. (Certain colors could be chosen to represent the various parts of speech) On the back of the card, your child could draw a simple picture or write a sentence to show understanding. These word cards could be filed behind cards with alphabet tabs. Review cards by letting your child read the words silently and then he can give the clues about the word’s meaning so you can try to guess the word.

3. Play a variation of the game “Pictionary”, using the words your child is learning.

He could use dry markers and a dry mark board to write his answers or to draw the pictures related to the words. A whole class could do this activity.

4. Create crossword puzzles.

(There are also free apps with word games.)

5. Model for your child how you find the meanings of new words using both on-line dictionaries and hard copy dictionaries.

Make it fun by seeing who can find the words the fastest.

6. Allow your primary aged child the opportunity to write his words in a tray spread with shaving cream, using his pointer finger as you call out the word’s meaning.

Or this could be done to practice for spelling tests.

7. Challenge each other to learn a new word each day or week.

Post these new words somewhere in the house or classroom (i.e. On refrigerator for the week; on a designated larger board). Share at one of your mealtimes the words you’ve found and where you discovered the word. Or in the classroom, call on children to share when you’re in line waiting to go to lunch or when there’s some available time.

8. Add the words you’re child discovers and learns on his own to a calendar marked for this special purpose.

Your child will have fun counting the words he/she learns throughout the year.

9. Did you know you can easily find the definition of a word in text on your phone?

All you have to do is press and hold on the word until the “look up” command appears. Your children may enjoy helping you find meanings of words this way.

10. Games such as Balderdash, Scattegories, and Scrabble are great for building vocabulary.

Please let me know which of these activities you try. Share others, too, so we can pass on treasures of the trade.

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