Friday, March 8, 2013

How I Teach Vocabulary and More FREE Fonts

First of all, I'd like to congratulate Sarah on winning my 100 follower giveaway! She's walking away with some awesome prizes contributed by some fabulous bloggers.

So, I thought I'd share a little bit with you about how I teach vocabulary to my first graders. I teach in a school with a very high ELL population, and I always have a range of linguistic needs in my classroom. Vocabulary is SUCH a critical area to develop in all students, and particularly in ELLs, since it's key to comprehending reading. Without a specific vocabulary instruction program, I began searching for ideas for how to teach vocabulary several years ago. I found a wonderful post (I think on A to Z Teacher Stuff) but I cannot for the life of me find it anymore. It had a wonderful idea for teaching vocab, and I've used it ever since.

My read aloud time tends to alternate between a theme or author study and a chapter book. I try to read a range of chapter books to my students, including longer nonfiction books, like level 3 or 4 Time for Kids readers. For each book, I try to pull out about 15-16 Tier 2 words, or words that are not terribly common (like "green" or "milk"), but that aren't highly academic (like "photosynthesis"). These are the kind of words I'd like my students to use more of in their own speaking and writing, and that they're likely to encounter again in their reading.

I take a piece of chart paper and fold it into 16 squares. Each day, I write two or three new words on the chart, one per square. I leave the rest of the square blank. Before reading, I tell the students the words they should listen for in that day's chapter. When I get to the word, students put their thumbs up. I often will stop and reread a couple sentences before and after the new word. Then, we discuss the word, using context clues to help determine the word's meaning. We do a lot of acting out, and discuss scenarios in which the word makes sense. Sometimes, I draw the picture right then, to help give students another visual to associate with the word, but other times, I draw the picture after school. I may also write a synonym underneath the picture. By the end of the book, we have a chart that looks like this:

(This was a chart for Toys Go Out, which is a GREAT read aloud about toys that come to life when their owner goes to bed. It's hilarious and very engaging, especially for my boys.)

After we complete the chart, I give pairs of students each a card with a vocabulary word on it and we play charades to review the words. The next day, my kiddos take a short quiz, using the words in a sentence and briefly defining the words with pictures and words:

We accumulate these charts on our wall, and the students get a kick out of hearing a lot of the words in subsequent read alouds and making connections between words that mean the same thing.

At the end of the year, we cut the words into squares and I give each kid a stack of words to take home. It sounds lame, but I think it's like the kid version of Oprah's Favorite Things. They seriously shriek about it! Ha!

Finally, I have a freebie for ya to start your weekend right!

Two free fonts for you! You can use them in personal or commercial use documents (like TpT products), and a link back to my blog is appreciated but not required.

And, in honor of turning the big 3-1 yesterday, I'm throwing a SALE in my TpT shop! 20% today through Sunday! Click {HERE} to go to my store!

Have a great weekend!!!

Freebie Fridays


  1. OMG! Love the freebie! Thanks!! And Happy belated Birthday! My birthday is next Tuesday!! Yay for March birthdays!! I am your newest follower!

    Kimberly Ann
    Live, Laugh, I LOVE Kindergarten

  2. Angie, your blog is awesome! I'm so glad you stopped by my blog. I am your newest follower. I can't wait to read more of your posts! Thanks!


  3. Happy Birthday!!What a great freebie!! Thanks so much!! Your blog is super "sweet"! My sister and I are your newest followers!!
    Sister Teachers

  4. Congrats on 100 followers! I am LOVING that font! I will definitely be using it! :) I am your newest follower.

    Diving Into 2nd Grade

  5. Yay! Happy happy birthday! So glad I found your blog!


    Learning With Mrs. Leeby

  6. Hi! I found you through the Freebie Friday linky and I'm glad I did! I love your strategy on teaching new vocab words. I am definitely pinning this for future reference. I'm a new follower and HAPPY belated BIRTHDAY! Thanks for the freebie!

    Cheers To School

  7. This is the best idea for vocab i've seen in awhile. Stealing this one!

  8. LOVE the vocabulary idea! So visual and great to keep up in the room. Thank you for the free fonts as well. That's very nice of you!
    Tamra and Sarah
    First Grade Buddies


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