My dad is one of the reasons I love vocabulary so much. He always used “big words” like facetious and lackadaisical. While it took me several years of childhood to figure out what he was saying, I was proud when I knew those words when they appeared on my high school vocabulary lists.
Today, I try to promote vocabulary usage with my four year old son. We watch Word Girl on PBS and discuss the meaning of words (note: his favorite so far is frolic). Some of his Transformer toys also have great names like “Prowl” and “Ravage” so we talk about what those mean, too. It’s a small start, but I’m trying to keep the learning entertaining.
I try to do the same thing every day as a high school English Teacher. I share my love of lexicon in interesting ways, knowing I’m helping my students expand their word banks so they can write, read, and think more clearly…and, of course, feel smart themselves.
Now, as my alter-ego VocabGal (at VocabGal.com), I not only blog about vocabulary games and activities I use in my classroom, but also post videos of my interviews with children’s and young adult authors who explain to students why learning vocabulary is worthwhile. In addition, I post the highlights of Twitter #engchat discussions and share great educational resources I find on other sites.
Whether you are a parent or educator, I try to find new and entertaining ways to help build kids’ vocabularies. Here are a few samples:
- Try a vocabulary version of Apples to Apples. In my version, you use your Apples to Apples red cards, but swap out the game’s green cards with ones you make using your vocabulary words. I even have a downloadable template to make it easy to create your own green cards.
- Watch one of my author interviews with amazing children’s book author Jack Gantos, winner of the 2011 Newbery Award for his novel Dead End in Norvelt.
I offer these activities and interviews because I know what it is like to be in the trenches of teaching and parenting, as I do both full time today. Amazingly, Nancy Frey and Douglas Fisher, who will be interviewed tomorrow on The Balancing Act, are also full-time teachers. When I met both of them, I was a bit star-struck—Nancy and Doug are two of the biggest names in the realms of vocabulary instruction (and in education in general) so I assumed that they would be supercilious academics. Instead, both are completely personable and practical as they are still classroom teachers at the school they founded in California. How they have time to have a life outside of teaching at their school, instructing at a college level, writing books, and presenting at national and international conferences, I do not know. What I do know is that their Sadlier Vocabulary for Success books are awesome, and they know firsthand both why vocabulary is so important and how parents/guardians can best help their children learn new words.
I hope between Doug and Nancy’s interview and activities and videos from my blog, we’ve inspired you to grow the vocabulary of the kids in your life!
You can find me as Vocab Gal at VocabGal.com, as well as at www.twitter.com/VocabGal, www.facebook.com/VocabGal, www.youtube.com/user/VocabGal, http://pinterest.com/vocabgal/, and https://plus.google.com/117530322744691225337/posts