4 Word Challenges to Build Vocabulary at Home (Grades Pre-K–5)

4 Word Challenges to Build Vocabulary at Home (Grades Pre-K–5)

This is the second installment in Lexia’s series on activities for families during school closures. Read the first installment.

One aspect of being at home with children 24/7: You get to learn a lot about your kids.

Through day-to-day interactions while students are learning from home, families have the opportunity to learn more about their children’s conversational ability through everything from expressions of feelings to discussions about schoolwork. Their growing vocabulary and understanding may surprise you!

Vocabulary is an important part of oral language, which lays the foundation for reading and writing skills. Expanding kids’ vocabulary isn’t just about memorizing word lists—it’s about the knowledge of both concrete and abstract word meanings, as well as the relationships among words

You’ll hear your kids pick up some new words as you go about your day, whether you find yourself watching the news and explaining what a pandemic is or saying “no” to relentless requests for leftover candy. 

One simple tip: When you’re reading aloud or watching a movie together, occasionally pause and ask your growing reader if they know a certain word, and give a simple explanation if not.

Word lists can play a role in vocabulary development by introducing unfamiliar words and building an understanding of different meanings and relationships between words. For example, many kids know a seal as an animal that lives in the ocean, but do they understand what it means to seal an envelope? How about a seal of approval?

Here are four fun, multisensory challenges for exploring word meanings, each of which can be adapted for foundational through intermediate readers (pre-K through grade 5). We organized them into Words of the Week, but feel free to introduce a word challenge whenever you need a simple activity!

Teachers, feel free to share these suggestions with your students and families:
 


Words of the Week 1:

  • Shiny

  • Fancy

  • Soft

  • Sturdy

  • Smooth

What do these words have in common? They can all be used to describe things. Talk about the meaning of each word, have your growing reader use each word in a sentence, and brainstorm related words together. Then, it's time to go on a scavenger hunt for items that fit each description!
 

 

Words of the Week 2:

  • Wave

  • Bark

  • Fan

  • Trunk

  • Bat

What do these words have in common? They all have more than one meaning. Talk about the different meanings of each word, have your growing reader use each word in two different sentences, and brainstorm related words together. Then, have your child illustrate the different meanings. Bonus points for including both meanings in one scene!
 

 

Words of the Week 3:

  • Goldfish

  • Pancake

  • Sunshine

  • Lipstick

  • Football

What do these words have in common? They're all compound words made up of two smaller words. Talk about the meaning of each word, have your growing reader use each word in a sentence, and brainstorm related words together. Then, have your child draw the meanings of each smaller word followed by the meaning of the compound word.
 

 

Words of the Week 4: 

  • Match

  • Staple

  • Spring

  • Right

  • Seal

What do these words have in common? They all have more than one meaning. Talk about the different meanings of each word, have your growing reader use each word in two different sentences, and brainstorm related words together. Then, have your child illustrate the different meanings. Bonus points for including both meanings in one scene!

Families, we’ll continue to bring you simple, at-home activity ideas to promote literacy over the coming weeks. If your student uses Core5 at home, check out our family resource page.

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