With a skill like vocabulary, sometimes it seems like the only option for learning is repetition and memorization. But for many children, this method can lead to boredom or even frustration – especially if the child struggles with those types of learning methods. Never fear! I have reached out to several of my amazing teacher colleagues, and they have given me suggestions to help take vocabulary practice from “Boo!” to “Woohoo!”
Five Fantastic Games to Help with Vocabulary Practice
1. Have a “Vocabulary Bee!”
Give your child a minute or so to look over his or her vocabulary list. Then, take the list away and have your child complete a task for one of the words. For example, “Tell me the part of speech for the word studious.” Give tasks until all of the words have been practiced.
You can even combine tasks to make the game more challenging for older children or children who are more advanced. For example, “Spell the word jovial, and also give its part of speech.”
If you have two or more children, you can even make it a race to see who can complete the task the fastest!
2. Roll the Dice!
One of my personal favorites! This game is similar to the vocabulary bee, but it puts the decision in the student’s hands. They roll a die to see which task they need to complete. Simply assign each number on a die a different task, assign a vocabulary word, and have your child roll to see which task he or she needs to complete. Feel free to get creative here, but some of my favorite tasks are…
Roll a 1: Use the word in a sentence.
Roll a 2: Give a synonym for the word.
Roll a 3: Give an antonym for the word.
Roll a 4: Spell the word correctly.
Roll a 5: Change the part of speech.
Roll a 6: Draw a picture that represents the word.
3. Write About It!
This game probably seems most appropriate for older children; however, it can be modified in a variety of ways to suit almost any age. First, assign a theme or genre for a short story, and then assign some targets for your child to hit. For example, “Use five of your vocabulary words in the story,” or “Use two of your vocabulary words in a different part of speech.”
If you have a younger child who may not have the ability to write fluently, you can still play the same game, but have him or her tell the story to you instead.
4. Pull out a Picture Book!
This is another one of my personal favorites, and it is one that is a hit with nearly all of my students. Grab a picture, or a book with many pictures, assign a vocabulary word, and have the child tell you a sentence about the picture using that vocabulary word. One reason I like this game is that it is adaptable to all skill levels. You can make the word connections more obvious for beginners (for example, assigning the word icy to a picture that contains an igloo), or you can make the connections more vague for older students or those who need an extra challenge (for example, assigning the word icy to a picture of a desert). In this way, the game not only helps with vocabulary practice, but it also encourages imagination.
This is a fun one you can play along with your child. To start, choose two vocabulary words, and assign one to each of you. Then, play a classic game of tic-tac-toe. If the game is a tie, you each need to use your vocabulary word in a sentence. If there is a winner, the loser needs to use both vocabulary words in a sentence. Switch it up by changing the task for the loser. Maybe have him or her tell synonyms for both words, or change the part of speech. Your imagination is the only limit!
What do you think? Does your child struggle with vocabulary? What are some ways you have helped him or her practice? Do you have any other suggestions for fun vocabulary games? We would love to hear from you in the comments!
Author: Emily Karth, Program Coordinator at A Grade Ahead
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