methods for teaching vocabulary 2nd grade 3rd grade

Do you prefer a callipygian figure? Huh, what does that even mean, Nesli?

That is how your students feel when they are encountering a new and unfamiliar word for the first time in a text. 

Oh by the way, callipygian means ‘having well-shaped buttocks’.

Is that too inappropriate for an educational blog post? I hope you said ‘no, not at all’ and that you giggled a little!

But in all seriousness (well, as serious as we can we get when talking about buttocks)…

I am going to share my favorite methods for teaching vocabulary.

Favorite Methods for Teaching Vocabulary that are Easy to Implement

Think about it: let’s say you are in 2nd grade and reading a chapter book for the first time. You know some of the more simpler words but there are still many that you do not understand and because of that, you do not really comprehend what is going on in the book.

methods for teaching vocabulary

Do you keep reading? Or do you think: “hmm, this book is way too difficult for me. Let me find something less challenging to read.” 

That is why vocabulary instruction is astronomical to the success of all readers in the classroom.

Vocabulary instruction plays a huge role in improving a student’s reading comprehension.  After all, without explicit and systematic vocabulary instruction, students’ reading comprehension levels will only continue to falter. 

Students will have difficulty understanding a text when they don’t know what most of the words mean. Same for adults, right? And when kids don’t know the meaning of words in the texts that they read…well, with that comes a lack of motivation to read!

My Methods for Improving Vocabulary

So, that is why I like to use my “Word of the Day” resource, as it ensures that my students are always acquiring new grade-level vocabulary and are prepared to encounter these unfamiliar words in their texts confidently. Below, you’ll see the different methods for teaching vocabulary included in this daily vocabulary routine.

Step 1 | Read the Word and Kid-Friendly Definition

One of the proven ways to help your students develop a rich vocabulary is to use kid-friendly definitions when teaching these tier 2 vocabulary words. In my resource, the first method is to read the word of the day and the kid-friendly definition of that word. I’ve done the hard work for you by already creating kid-friendly definitions for a years worth of vocabulary words. Click here to check it out.

Sometimes I will read the word and definition as a class together or read the word and definition to individual students who need the auditory support as I walk around during independent work. Under the headings with the word and definition, there will also be a small “part of speech” blurb which will indicate which part of speech the word is a part of. 

Step 2 |  Trace and Write the Word

Research shows that the method or act of tracing and writing the word helps the student remember the word. This method also helps to improve handwriting, which is also important for elementary students. Students will trace the word of the day two or three times on dotted lines to increase their motor skills. Then, they will write the word three times on dotted lines but this time without tracing to take the step further.

vocabulary activities 2nd grade

Step 3 | Fill in the Blank

Students will fill in an incomplete sentence with a blank space and fill in the word of the day in that blank space. This helps them see how the word can be used in context in normal sentences.

Step 4 | Draw a Picture and Write a Sentence

Last but not least, sketching or drawing a picture that represents the meaning of the word is another proven method for helping students learn new vocabulary. Students will draw a picture to represent the meaning of the word in a blank box and then write their own sentence of the word in the corresponding lines. This helps further reinforce their own understanding of the word and draws on higher-order-thinking skills in Bloom’s taxonomy — specifically, “create.”

methods for teaching vocabulary

End of the Week Quiz

Students will first match the words to the definition. There will be four words in the word bank and four definitions to match. Students will have already seen these words throughout the week in the initial “Word of the Day” activity. Secondly, students will have four sentences to fill using the same four words in the word bank above. This will help further solidify their understanding of how to use each of the words in context.

Examples and Non-Examples

Students will provide examples and nonexamples of four words in four mini T-Charts. Thinking of examples and nonexamples of vocabulary is important for all students, especially English learners.

methods and activities for teaching vocabulary

Vocabulary Crossword Puzzles

Here, students will complete a crossword puzzle by matching 8 vocabulary words they have learned throughout the week to 8 definitions of these words. This is a fun extra engagement activity for your students to complete for further reinforcement of their understanding of the vocabulary words they have learned throughout the week in the initial “Word of the Day” activity.

Free Word of the Day Set

I made you two weeks worth of word of the day activities and they are totally free! Click here to download them. I have chosen all of the tier 2 words for you so you don’t have to go through the hassle of finding the vocabulary words and kid-friendly definitions for your students! You can click HERE to check out the full year’s worth of word of the day vocabulary practice.  

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Nesli Morie