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Three Fun Vocabulary Activities for First Grade

written by: Krima Olive Molina • edited by: Linda M. Rhinehart Neas • updated: 9/11/2012

Make use of these interactive first grade vocabulary lesson tasks in your classroom to make reading and vocabulary more meaningful and effective.

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    What Words To Teach

    ReadingManiacs The best way to study vocabulary with your first graders is to anchor love for words with love for reading. Establish a genuine appreciation for reading and your students will most likely learn words faster and more efficiently. Since reading is a complex process that involves decoding and linguistic comprehension, students have to be ushered in to the mastery of both. For first graders, the process of decoding takes longer and attaching meaning to words is not that automatic. Here are first grade vocabulary lesson ideas that you can use in your classroom, along with a list of first grade vocabulary words that your students should be learning. Take note, though, that your students are not limited to learning ONLY the words in the list. Be ready to accommodate advanced readers--as well as the lagging ones.

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    Pictionary (Picture Dictionary)

    Each of your students should have a sketchpad (which will serve as the pictionary) and a set of drawing and coloring materials. Before reading a story in class, list the five most challenging words that you will be encountering in the story. Have a word web activity by gathering them all in the vocabulary corner floor and showing them your whiteboard with a word encircled in the center. Ask your students what they are reminded of when they see/hear the word on the board. Write down their answers inside smaller circles surrounding and connecting to the main circle in the middle. Afterwards, process and summarize their answer to come up with a common definition of that word.

    After determining the definition, ask each student to write down that word in their pictionary and doodle the images that come to their mind that are related to the word. Encourage them to be as creative as they can be. Show them examples of pictionary entries from your former students, or you can make your own and show it to the class.

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    Complete Me!

    Prepare five sets of 1-whole-cartolina charts, each for one of your regular five vocabulary words. On each chart, print and paste a word and leave one letter missing. Below the incomplete word, cut and paste a drawing that is representative of the word. Notice that this is just like a pictionary--only that the process is reversed. Go to your vocabulary corner area and show the charts one at a time to the students.

    For each chart, show them the picture and ask them what they are reminded of whenever they see that picture. Your students would most likely give various answers that you that you can then lead them to the correct concept, process, and summary in order for your students to finally come up with the word. Once the word is unlocked, ask a volunteer to go to the box of letters, pick out the missing letter of your word, and paste it on the chart.

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    Where's My Other Half?

    Give each of your students a big card with one syllable. Tell them that apparently, the letters of their assigned syllable are lonely and they should look for their "brothers and sisters"--that is, the other syllable to form a complete word. Tape their syllable cards on their chest and on your signal, have them go around the room to look for their pairs. Once they find their pair, they are to shout, "Here's my other half!" together, at which point, you will then ask them to go to your word wall and paste their cards together on the wall.

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    As reading teachers, we know that before teaching our students first grade vocabulary, it is more important to instill in them a sense of wonder and awe of reading. After all, it is through reading that students develop a wide vocabulary and eventually, excellent writing skills as well.

    Photo Credits: http://www.cam.k12.il.us/ms/6th/gillettc/index.htm