Posts tagged ‘vocabulary’

May 1, 2012

Gobble Gobble

by stryson

When talking about ethnicity in one of my classes, one student tried to tell me about his heritage…

Hey, I’m part Turkey!

… an honest mistake, and a good teachable moment for the suffix -ish. Still, hilarious.

February 8, 2012

Synonym Scavenger Hunt

by stryson

My classroom does not really make a good case for proving my sanity right now. If you were to walk in through my door, one of the first things you’d see is this:

Yes, at first glance, it appears that I’ve labeled my printer “automobile.” No, I haven’t completely lost my vocabulary skills.

I actually set up an ongoing game/activity for my reading classes, in which I have a stack of index cards with “simple” words on them, like “funny,” “sad,” etc.

Around my room, I’ve taped fancier synonyms for these words. Examples for the ones in this picture include “hilarious,” “considerate,” “stroll,” “canine,” “automobile,” and “luminous.”



At the beginning of class, as they walk through the doorway, each child receives a card. He or she has to find the matching synonym and return both cards to me before he or she is allowed to sit down to begin class.

Today, it went well. Moving forward? We’ll see how it goes. I’m reaching for any fun entertaining way to expand these kids’ vocabularies and to make them really think about their word choices.

November 22, 2011

The Giving Tree

by stryson

We do something called The Giving Tree at my school. Families and teachers can sign up to donate gifts to disabled children at a local facility. With each sign-up, the facility gives a list of suggestions for gifts, especially since many of the children are severely disabled, thus needing gifts that may be appropriate for a much younger age than they are.

When this year’s gift tags were passed out, the kids were, as usual, looking at each others’ to see what these kids were asking for. Suddenly, one of my sixth grade boys starts ranting about how this other child’s card said that the kid wanted a phone. He went on and on about how expensive cell phones are and how rude it was for them to ask for it if people were giving the gift anonymously. I went over to check out what was going on, and immediately saw the communication breakdown. The child in question was an infant, and the first gift suggestion was a mobile, as in the toy that hangs above a crib with dangling objects. However, my student saw mobile and thought mobile phone.

We all had a good laugh when that was cleared up, and my confused student felt quite relieved. Can you imagine if the student assigned this child actually bought the phone?

November 20, 2011


by stryson

Last Monday, one of my fourth graders was talking about his twin sister, who goes to a different school. One of his classmates, after discovering that they were twins, asked, “So she looks exactly like you?”

“No,” replied the twin. “We’re not that kind of twins. There are two kinds of twins: vertical and the kind that look the same.”

I corrected his use of the word vertical, and he proceeded:

“Right, so there are two kinds of twins, fraternal and symmetrical.”

November 19, 2011


by stryson

So many of my students have large vocabulary deficits that being a walking dictionary is part of my job description. I don’t usually think twice about needing to define a word for a student on the spur of the moment, but every now and then, the word they choose to inquire about throws me for a loop. One such case happened a couple of weeks ago.

Student: What’s a Fitch?

Me: What? There’s no such thing.

Student: No, there is! What’s a Fitch?

Me: I’ve never heard of a Fitch.

Student: I saw it on a girl’s shirt!

Me: Ohhhh, that’s part of a name of a brand, Abercrombie & Fitch.

Student: So, what’s a Fitch?

This is a moment for a facepalm. We eventually cleared it up, but it took several examples.

October 18, 2011

Our Imprecise Language

by stryson

I just spent fifteen minutes debating with my fourth graders, who insisted that you can see X-Rays. (An answer on their homework was that x-rays are invisible.) Never mind that the story mentions that X-Rays are invisible at least twice; the kids are so used to the actual pictures being called X-Rays that they couldn’t wrap their heads around the fact that the actual beam being shot from the camera is what an X-Ray is.

Oh yeah, and don’t even get me started on the conversation we had about organs, and about explaining to one girl that a real heart is not shaped like a Valentine’s Day style heart. Yes, that conversation ended with looking up pictures on the smart board… and the boys insisting that I find a real picture, not a drawing.

Are we sure today isn’t a Monday?

July 29, 2011

Synonyms, part 1

by stryson

Uh, oh! There’s ambition in the title – a promise of further synonym posts in the future!

In all seriousness, though, I swung by the school today to pick up a couple of things I needed to do work from home and decided to eat lunch at my computer and do some web-exploring. During the year, I find myself so pressed for time that I don’t always find a broad range of resources…. and then I am disappointed to find them later, when that lesson has passed. Today, I decided to run a search on synonyms and antonyms, and I ended up narrowing my scope just to synonyms for the time being.

I’ve yet to find a good video to go with a synonym/antonym lesson – if anyone can link to a suggested one, please do so in the comments!

I did, however, find some useful games. The first is called Word Frog, and it’s from Arcademic Skill Builders. I like this game for several reasons. First, it’s cute. Secondly, it tracks the player’s progress on a graph. This means that I can check on a student’s progress if they use this game for independent time, and it also means that there’s another chance for a cross-curriculum moment. We can look at these graphs together and discuss briefly what they mean, bringing math into the reading classroom.

I anticipate much excitement about the next game I have to share, at least from my students. Scholastic has a Captain Huggyface synonym game! (For those of you not familiar with Captain Huggyface, he is a character on the PBS Kids show WordGirl.) This game is called Synonym Toast.

Speaking of PBS Kids, they have a game on their site that is also good for practicing synonyms, Synonym Sam’s Lab.

I’m still picking through resources for worksheets & thesaurus resources. I’ll save them for the next post. Until then, have a nice, good, enjoyable, pleasurable, entertaining, amusing time trying out these games.

March 31, 2011

Reading Resource for Vocabulary

by stryson

So, my fifth graders are in the middle of taking a test right now, so I’m taking a moment to tell you about a great resource that this class is obsessed with: Wordgirl.

Wordgirl is a PBS cartoon.  She is a superhero that hails from the planet “Lexicon,” and she uses her advanced vocabulary skills to solve crimes. It’s really good for the kids; they use two key words each episode, so the word is stressed and repeated.  The definition comes up in multiple contexts, so the kids see the flexibility of our language.  To top it all off, it’s very funny.

You can access Wordgirl here.