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Buliding Vocabulary (beyond reading aloud)


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My son took his standardized test and his reading ability and comprehension were several grades above his vocabulary. I'm not the type to fret over the results of a test, but I do think that reading will be more enjoyable if he could understand more of the words he encounters (the books he is reading are a higher level than where he tested for vocabulary comprehension).

 

We already read aloud a lot. My daughter can pick up words by context (it shows up in the words she uses in everyday conversation), so I know that is a wonderful way to build vocabulary. But I'm guessing my son needs something more explicit than that. He was delayed in his speech as a preschooler; perhaps this is related?

 

So, beyond continuing to read lots of good books to him, what can I do to help his vocabulary? I don't want to do a flash card based program. I don't want to do a word root program at this point. I don't want it to add too much to our schedule, but I want it to help enough to be worthwhile (and not just busywork). It doesn't have to be a curriculum, I'd be happy with just a simple method that I can add into our day on my own that will give good results. If it matters, we're currently using ELTL and RLTL.

 

 

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When you do your readalouds, do you define the words as you go?

Hubby usually signs with Jr. when they read together and even at just under 9mos, Jr. looks expectantly at Hubby for the sign--the 'definition'--of words when they read.

 

Do you make a point of using a few words from your read alouds throughout the day? We are always on the lookout for new chances to define the words we sign for Jr. and we have taken him to the zoo twice now just to give his vocabulary more definitions. Admittedly, its mostly nouns and adjectives right now, but I like to think that its helping him all the same.

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It is very possible that the results from the test aren't an accurate assessment of your son's vocabulary level.  I know that my son had to learn how to take the vocabulary test on the ITBS.  His vocabulary score went from the 65th percentile to the 95th the next just by reading the questions aloud (he was taking it by himself; silently whisper reading would also work) and making sure he was reading all of the answer choices.  I think it made him slow down enough to actually think about what he was doing.

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When you do your readalouds, do you define the words as you go?

Hubby usually signs with Jr. when they read together and even at just under 9mos, Jr. looks expectantly at Hubby for the sign--the 'definition'--of words when they read.

 

Do you make a point of using a few words from your read alouds throughout the day? We are always on the lookout for new chances to define the words we sign for Jr. and we have taken him to the zoo twice now just to give his vocabulary more definitions. Admittedly, its mostly nouns and adjectives right now, but I like to think that its helping him all the same.

 

My husband is better at defining words while reading than I am, but we both do it. And my daughter is always using new words that we know are from the books we read to her, so it sticks with one of my kids, at least.

 

 

It is very possible that the results from the test aren't an accurate assessment of your son's vocabulary level.  I know that my son had to learn how to take the vocabulary test on the ITBS.  His vocabulary score went from the 65th percentile to the 95th the next just by reading the questions aloud (he was taking it by himself; silently whisper reading would also work) and making sure he was reading all of the answer choices.  I think it made him slow down enough to actually think about what he was doing.

 

This test had groups of words where one did not "belong" (for example, 4 of 5 words might be professions, and one might be a location). There were two sections: listening comprehension (the words were read aloud to him) and reading comprehension (he read the words to himself). Listening was higher than reading, but both were below the level that he reads at.

 

Word search games (with clues, not a list), crossword puzzles, 21 questions, hangman, etc. (whenever you have to wait for something)

 

Use more "higher" vocabulary in everyday conversation (and making sure he knows what you're talking about)

 

He likes puzzles of all sorts, so I bet a crossword puzzle book at his level would appeal to him.

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In addition to games and puzzles, I try to keep track of a few of the words we encounter in our reading. We write them on a list and keep that in a visible place. This week, with ds8, words have included: abbreviation, sagacity, and mischief. Having the list reminds me to use them.

 

With dd11, I sometimes have her record unfamiliar words as she reads. We then grade each one as "somewhat know," "no idea," or "I can explain this." We pick some of the first category, and useful words from the second, to work on. For each, she completes a grid inspired by this post: http://msmathmadness.blogspot.com/2013/07/vocabulary-section-improvements.html?m=1

 

She only does a couple of words per day, and we only do this maybe twice a quarter, so it's not too intense or anything. She usually enjoys it pretty well.

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Here's a fun thing that we've started doing.

 

Let me back up.

 

my 16 yo dd started wearing out the word HILARIOUS several months ago. Everything was HILARIOUS. It was annoying. So I went to a Word Cloud website like Taxedo and generated a word cloud including all of the synonyms of HILARIOUS. I posted it on the fridge. Then every time she used the word, anyone in the house would start spouting synonyms for HILARIOUS. comical, humorous, a scream.... She finally stopped reusing that tired word.

 

Anyway, I;ve recently started generating word clouds for other random words. So far we've used FOOD and GROSS.  Whenever I want to use one of those words, or one of the kids start to use them, we check the fridge and see if we can come up with another more creative word.

 

Anyway, it's been a fun way of including more words in our vocabulary.

 

I plan on making 36 of them and changing them out every week when school starts up.

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