Vocabulary Can Be Fun, Too!

Hello friends.

My name is Cara and I'm a WORD NERD.

I love words.  Everything about them.  I pore over them.  I **try** and make myself more interesting by using those "fun" words in random conversation.  

Words are FUN. 





Fill in the blank here :)

I want my kids to love words as much as I do.  I want to hear them using "big" words in their everyday conversations.  Not that I expect my kids to use insanely challenging vocabulary all the time, but there's no reason they can't "speak smart"!  

Last year one of my goals was to increase my vocabulary instruction.  I wanted it to be more meaningful...more rigorous...more effective.  I did lots of research and bought my most FAVORITE vocabulary resource...

Y'all.  If you haven't read it yet, you MUST.  Seriously.  Completely changed the way I incorporate vocabulary instruction in my classroom.

Of course, I'm still a far way from where I want to be when it comes to vocabulary instruction, but I definitely feel like I'm further than where I was and that's a good thing!

I was able to share some of my most favorite vocabulary activities and ideas when I presented at the I Teach 1st conference in Vegas. {If you're in Franklin TN & Livonia MI, Wisconsin, Arkansas, & Texas,  I'll be coming to see you SOON, too!!!}  Here's one of my most favorite, tried & true, SIMPLE yet effective, vocabulary activities I use every year.

First off, you'll need to start with a book.  For this example, I read The Grumpy Morning.  

From that text, I pulled out 3 words I wanted my kids to learn.  Of course, this book would not be the last time they heard these words.  We incorporated them into various activities over the course of two weeks.  Generally I will introduce about 5-6 new vocabulary words every two weeks.

Before reading the book aloud, I introduce the words to the kids and ask them to predict what those words might mean.  I'll have a few kids help me with this & I'll write their pre-reading predictions on our chart.

When we're all finished with our predictions, I tell the kids that they need to listen for those words in the story and then I start reading. When we come to one of the words, the kids raise their hands and then I call on a few of them to tell me what they think the word means in context.  

Not only do they have to tell me what they think it means, but they have to prove to me why they think it by giving me the context clues.

Y'all.  They LOVE this.

It's SO simple and easy.  And they really, REALLY take to it!!!

At the end of our two week vocabulary unit, I'll "auction" off the chart and let one of the kids take it home.  I know the parents are THRILLED to have giant pieces of butcher paper come home with their kids {can you hear that sarcasm?!?!?! ;)}

Hope y'all can use that idea with your kids this year!!  I think they'll {& YOU!} will LOVE it!!!


By request, I've uploaded my monthly Write the Room and Writing Centers into bundles.  Now you can buy the bunch and save A LOT!

Click on the pics for more info!!!


  1. Love the Word Nerd book!!! Thanks for sharing your lesson.

  2. Michigan? Tell me more! I am definitely going to check out Word Nerds :)

  3. I read this after hearing you talk about in Vegas and it is a great book! I can't wait to "get wordy" with my class this year. Thanks for sharing.

    Fantastic First Grade Froggies

  4. Great post! I love the way you structure these so any level teacher can follow them. It's so helpful to hear/see the thought process!


  5. Love how you have them make predictions about what the word will mean before reading the text!

    Where in Texas are you coming to? I'm just north of Houston!

    For the Love of First Grade

  6. I loved their idea of Word Celebrations! We incorporated those in about once a month last year and the kids really enjoyed it! :)

    Not Just Child's Play

  7. Hi! Where do you get the word lists from? You should compile a list for teacherspayteachers!, I would eagerly purchase that!! :)

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  9. This is a great strategy idea! I'm always looking for quick, easy, and effective strategies. Can't wait to try it! Thanks!

  10. I read Word Nerds last year and loved it! It was amazing to see the kids begging for more vocabulary activities and fall in love with new words!
    The Lemonade Stand

  11. I will have to read that book!! I always love a good book that really does bring something new and good to the mix :)
    ♥ Jen
    Teacher by the Beach

  12. I am in Franklin TN!! Where are you presenting??

  13. My mom always told me that she loves to read the dictionary.....all the other books are in there. I am also a firm believer in the power of a good picture book. The vocabulary in a good picture book is so rich! I love, love your approach to teaching vocabulary. Upper grades should not be so quick to put away those picture books!

    Terri Izatt

  14. When are you coming to WI and where? Would love to come.

  15. Thanks for the book recommendation, I'm adding it to the ever growing list of books I would like to read! :) I LOVE the chart and will definitely be incorporating it into some vocab instruction this year!

  16. Wisconsin!? Checked sde site and didn't see anything featuring you :) tell us when please

  17. Cara I love this lesson! Please say you are coming to California some day soon! My teaching partner and I seriously need to meet you! IN PERSON!! I am ordering the Word Nerd !

  18. Thank you for the freebies- I can't wait to use the number booklet once school starts!

    Sarah Kubicek

  19. Vocabulary, much more than grammar, is the key to your child understanding what she hears and reads in school; and to communicating successfully with other people. For this reason it is very important for her to quickly build up a large store of words. https://vocabmonk.com helps your child to build his vocabulary with a thematic approach.
    Start Learning..!!

  20. I love this! Thank you so much for sharing Cara!

  21. Hello!
    In this post you mentioned coming back later for a more detailed post about guided reading and your routines/tricks. Can you point me in the direction of that post?
    Thanks so much!