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A Fun Way to Make Vocabulary STICK!

written by: Lenzi Hart • edited by: SForsyth • updated: 10/2/2012

Passing out a list of vocabulary words and having your middle school students look them up in the dictionary is the worst way for students to broaden their vocabulary bank. In this lesson, you will learn a creative and fun way for students to make their vocabulary lessons "stick'.

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    A Sticky Lesson

    Students today are used to being entertained. This generation has never known what it is like to not have computers, Nintendos, play stations, cell phones, and the other oodles of handheld devices they own, loaded with a plethora of games. Their brains are used to face-paced, competitive endeavors that challenge their intellect, but captivate their interests.

    Anytime you can make your lesson plans into a game, you are hitting a home run with this generation of students. This lesson plan can do both - help your students comprehend assigned vocabulary, but keep them laughing and playing all the while.

    Teaching vocabulary can be pain-staking and boring for both the teacher and the student. Looking up the words and then regurgitating them on a worksheet or test just doesn't work. Students use their short-term memories to file away the definitions, and within a few weeks, the knowledge is lost into oblivion. How then, can we make vocabulary definitions "stick"? Follow the instructions for this “Sticky Note Lesson Plan" and you will soon discover that vocabulary assignments will never be considered boring again!

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    Stick It to Vocab!

    This lesson works best when you have a list of words that does not exceed ten words. Any more than ten words, and the students will become confused and the lesson will lose its impact.

    Materials:

    • 10 sticky notes per student
    • 10 sheets of butcher paper, a yard (or less) long
    • Timer
    • Bell, buzzer or whistle

    Lesson Plan Steps:

    1. Prior to this activity, give students a list of the vocabulary words with the definitions. Instruct them to study and familiarize themselves with the words.

    2. Before students arrive to your classroom, write each vocabulary definition on a piece of butcher paper, being sure to exclude the vocabulary word. Make sure you write the definition in large, bold print so it can be easily seen. Post each word around the room in various locations. Get creative! Post words on doors, on the front of desks, or across bookshelves. If you have access to a gym or a large area, you can post your butcher paper words there. The more room your students have to complete the activity, the better, because students will be moving around quite a bit!

    3. Give each student a stack of ten sticky notes. Write the vocabulary words on the board and have them copy the list onto the stick notes, writing one word per sticky note. Therefore, each sticky note should have one vocabulary word, not an entire list written on it! They also need to write their name on each sticky note.

    4. Tell the students that whenever you say "go", the students will go around the room (gym, foyer, or wherever you've hung up the butcher paper definitions) and stick the appropriate vocabulary word on the definition. You can make it into an individual race, or divide the students into teams before releasing them to stick the notes on the butcher paper. It's up to you, but make sure they know that you will be "grading" their accuracy at the end of the activity, so they need to do their very best. The winner will not only be the person who finishes posting their notes, but the person who is also the most accurate.

    5. When students finish, have them return to their seat or sit in a designated spot on the floor. As a group, review each definition and discuss the correct word they should have stuck on the paper. Do this for each word, so students can see where they made mistakes. You can repeat the activity after review the correct words, if time allows and have a "fastest vocab kid" in the West showdown between you top five students from the previous go around.

    6. You can grade students in several ways using this activity. You can base your grade on participation, or you can create a check-off list for each word and as you review, check off which student missed what word and calculate a grade after the 1st review.

    Involving physical activity in your lesson plans is a proven strategy that builds dendrite connections in the brain. Every age of student can benefit from kinesthetic learning, and it is a great way to promote enthusiasm in your classroom for vocabulary!