The key to helping kindergarten students reinforce their growing vocabularies is to supplement traditional lessons with activities that move lessons from the page to practical applications. Incorporate exercises that get children interacting with one another and help to deepen their understandings of phonics. Also, use activities you can both repeat and expand upon throughout the school year so you and your students can regularly acknowledge their progress.
Wall of Words
On a large corkboard, post notecards with the individual letters of the alphabet on them and leave enough space below each letter to post words. As you progress through your vocabulary lessons, post cards with vocabulary words below their corresponding first letters. For example, post the word "Tree" below the "Tt" card. At either the beginning or end of each vocabulary lesson, you can lead the class through a reading of all the words on the corkboard, which will lengthen considerably throughout the year.
On the board, draw a series of simple pictures of objects that rhyme with your class's current vocabulary words. For example, for the words "hat," "can," "dart" and "pill," you could draw pictures of a bat, a pan, a heart and a hill. Next, call out one of the vocabulary words, and ask who can identify the picture with which it rhymes. Call on a student to come up to the board and erase the picture of the correct rhyming word. For example, if the word is "can," the student should erase the picture of the pan. Because the children use only images and sounds here, they will have to apply a comprehensive understanding of how vowels relate to sounds and ideas without having written text to bridge the gap.
New Word Songs
Songs are an effective memory tool for building and reinforcing vocabulary in students of all ages, and specifically in kindergarten students, according to research performed by Mary F. Joyce at Northeastern University. To use songs in your vocabulary lessons, either compose them on your own or find existing songs, such as those on learninggamesforkids.com. If you compose your own songs, try to arrange the lyrics in a way that allows you to substitute any vocabulary word into the verse. For example, you could incorporate the following line: "Today's new word is _____, and it is new today, but then will come tomorrow, with a new word that I'll say."
Word Journal Sharing
Give your students spiral-bound drawing tablets they can use to make their very own word journals. Each day have them create a page for at least one new word, and encourage them to write the word along with a colorful picture of what it represents. They even can write a short description of what the word means. For example, if the word is "nest," they could write that a nest is a home for baby birds. Then, every few days, you can have each student share one word page with the class, and talk about what they know about the word.
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