How do we foster meaningful vocabulary skills in students? Deeper and broader understanding of vocabulary meaning doesn’t happen all at once, according to Charlene Cobb and Camille Blachowicz in “Look Up the List” Vocabulary Instruction. Look at it like a dimmer switch where the understanding of a word’s meaning will increase over time. As they learn, the light becomes brighter. They say, first, you need to “flood students with words.”

Set your classroom up with word charts, puzzle books, games, dictionaries, alphabet books, etc., so that their learning environment is inundated with word meaning. Next, engage the students in word play and read daily from materials that step up the game on their vocabulary with words that are above their level. Past posts have mentioned word games we love to engage our students in active learning, such as:

  • Apples to Apples
  • Tribond for Kids
  • Taboo
  • Outburst
  • Scattegories
  • Last Word

Tell jokes and puns in class. Show them that you love learning new words, playing with the meaning of words, and figuring out why a joke is funny. Let them see you use strategies to figure out new words, so they can learn by example and develop their own strategies.