Tips for Teaching Vocabulary

Teaching vocabulary needs to be done with all ages of children – it’s a skill that needs mastering. Vocabulary is not often thought of as fun, so being creative when trying to teach new words is important. The use of a heightened vocabulary is falling by the wayside of late, as the spate of technological marvels allows users to place more emphasis on slang and acronyms.


When trying to teach vocabulary, one of the best ways is to model how it is done in an effective fashion. Use new words when speaking with children and encourage them to learn the meaning. Children have a mind like a sponge, and they are eager to learn new things. Incorporate a few new words each day, and intersperse them throughout the day.

The more exposure children have to new words, the better chance they will have of utilizing the new words in their own conversations.


Word games such as Boggle, Jumble and Scrabble can help children learn new vocabulary words. Many children know a lot of words, but they hear them on a limited basis, and perhaps have difficulty remembering them quickly. The more that they are forced to look for new words, the better off they might become.

Games like Boggle, Jumble and Scrabble work because the child is actively searching for words. This adds an element of kinesthetic learning to the activity. Games are also perceived as fun, and are seen as a break from the monotony of learning. This can be used to your advantage.

*Word of the Day*

The Word of the Day is another great way to teach vocabulary. Each and every day a student should be assigned the task of randomly selecting a page in the dictionary, and then scouring that page for a word that they are unfamiliar with, opting for it to become the Word of the Day.

Each day, a new word is added to an existing list of words. These can be placed conspicuously around the classroom. Each day, the new word should be incorporated into each lesson. The word should be showcased many times per day, with each child writing out the definition and possibly any root words, prefixes or suffixes that help them to understand the word.

*Synonyms and Antonyms*

During reading, which is very important and should be done aloud each day, stop on certain words and alter them. As the story progresses, ask for synonyms and antonyms for words of your choice. For example, if the story mentions a big monster, have the children come up with more descriptive words, such as large, humongous, enormous, or massive. They can also use wee, miniscule or tiny. The more often they use words, the more their vocabulary will improve. The best way to teach vocabulary is to expose children to words repeatedly.

*Write New Endings*

As part of a daily journal, encourage reading and writing skills to go along with vocabulary. Have students write new endings to stories they love, but give them a list of words that they must place inside the text. This will force them to use the words they are learning.

Teaching vocabulary should be done on a daily basis. With so many words available, it is a shame that many children are not maximizing their potential. The concept of texting and tweeting is not language-based, so teaching kids new vocabulary words is a necessity.