Thursday, December 7, 2017

Making Vocabulary Memorable with Mrs Wordsmith

This post is kindly sponsored by Mrs Wordsmith. All opinions are my own.

We all know vocabulary is an important part of both reading and writing instruction. But at both schools I've worked at, I wasn't provided with any vocabulary curriculum or even guidance. There were some old basal texts with glossaries lying around, but that was about it! As a kid, I remember having a vocabulary workbook, but it was a pretty lifeless thing, black and white and with no illustrations. Vocabulary instruction should be vivacious and engaging if we want it to be memorable. So many of our students are highly visual learners, and reading definitions just isn't going to cut it. So what if vocabulary instruction could be quick, fun, and memorable?

Enter Mrs Wordsmith. This UK-based company has narrowed down the 1 million words in the English language to the 10,000 that best support reading and writing. Even 10,000 sounds pretty daunting, but what about the first 1,500? By introducing just a few words a day, your students could learn hundreds of new words this year.



The first thing that grabs you about the Mrs Wordsmith kit is that it's GORGEOUS. The pages are thick and sturdy, every illustration is in full color, and the categories are all color-coded. As I was exploring the kit, SO many ideas popped up into my head about how to utilize it in the classroom. The Mrs Wordsmith site offers plenty of ideas, but here's how I'd go about using it:

Introduce the word or words of the day.
Project the full-page illustration for your word of the day up on the board, or just post it up if working with a small group. These illustrations are so colorful and funny-- your students are going to love them! They're actually designed by the artist behind the Madagascar movies-- how cool is that? Students can study the image and read the definition.

Consider synonyms and word pairs.
One of the things I love about Mrs Wordsmith is that it focuses on how the words are used. After all, we want our students to be able to read and write these words in context, not just in isolation, right? Every word comes with a worksheet with synonyms and word pairs (called collocations) for students to sort. This would make a great morning work activity! Write the words up on the whiteboard or on an anchor chart, and then students can copy them down in their notebooks. They circle the synonyms and draw a line to the word pairs, like this: 


Post the pictures.
The kit comes with a full-page illustration for every single word! Tear them out and post them on a wall for a super engaging word wall! Encourage students to use the words in their writing. This would also make a great fast finisher activity-- have students pick a few words from the word wall and use them in a sentence or short story!



Engage with the cards.
In addition to the full-page illustrations, the kit also comes with cards for each word. These are perfect for all sorts of activities and games. Since I use centers and tasks in my resource room, I would pop a set of cards in a bin along with instructions. Students can take turns showing each other the illustration (covering the word), while other students guess the word. For a more active center, one student can also act out of the word while the other students guess.

By introducing a few new words every day, and continually reinforcing the words through games and daily use, you'll be setting your students up for success.

Mrs Wordsmith is offering my readers $45 off the kit with the code DESIGNERTEACH45. Let me know if you try it out with your class!


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