Semantic and/or vocabulary knowledge is the building block for communication. It conveys the meaning for what we say.  We use it in two forms, receptive and expressive. Meaning can be conveyed in forms other than speech such as in sign language, pictures, and the written form.  Surprisingly there can be speech without communication. For example a parrot can repeat words in imitation and not use them meaningfully. People may understand the words he says, but they don’t serve a purpose unless it is “Polly wants a cracker” and he gets a treat.  We may find the opposite holds true as well.  A child who can not speak verbally may have a good  receptive vocabulary.  He understands words that are spoken and can follow the directions that are said, but can not say the words.   When working with vocabulary we need to consider receptive as well as expressive forms.
In the school population, vocabulary development can be a big indicator of academic success. A child may miss large portions of education because of not understanding the words used in the classroom. They may not be able to follow the basic directions given to complete assignments. They will miss the content that is presented or read. When they try to speak they may have trouble finding the right words ands use nonspecific words such as thing and stuff. When they write down their thoughts they do not have the words to form a sentence. Parents who build their child’s vocabulary through talking, reading, and exposing them to variety of experiences are giving them a head start toward school success.

Vocabulary is taught  best within the context of experience. It needs to be connected in someway to the knowledge we have already stored in our brain. It’s these connections that make a word available to us when we need it. Many of us have experienced that need for a word and then begin running down a list such the first letter, it sounds like, where was I when I learned that word?  The following materials are provided as a  way to learn vocabulary within the framework of a theme or activity.  If cards are provided, they can be downloaded and printed on cardstock  and cut apart.  The cards can then be used to elicit responses as you play a board game or whatever activity you find motivational.

© Cynthia Montalbano and In Spontaneous Speech, 2009. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material for commercial purposes without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Cynthia Montalbano and In Spontaneous Speech with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

You may feel free to use any of the activities  for  children on your caseload, in your classrooms, or your individual child.  They are not meant to be  copied for commercial purposes or hijacked to another site.  I would rather you link here.

1. Animal Association cards: Four words are given. Three of the words go together in some way. The fourth word doesn’t. Tell why it doesn’t belong.

2.  More Animal Associations:  just more of the above.

3. Transportation association:   Four words are given. Three of the words go together in some way. The fourth word doesn’t. Tell why it doesn’t belong.

4.  Land and Plant associations: Four words are given.  The top three go together in some way.  Tell why the fourth word doesn’t belong.  These  are more appropriate for children beyond third grade.

5.  Occupations associations:  Four words are given.  The top three go together in some way.  Tell why the fourth word doesn’t belong.  These  are more appropriate for children beyond third grade.

6.  Household associations:  Four words are given.  The top three go together in some way.  Tell why the fourth word doesn’t belong.

8.  Sports Associations:  Four words are given.  The top three go together in some way.  Tell why the fourth word doesn’t belong.  These would be good for reviewing the Olympic Games

9. Following directions using prepositions:  This activity uses the game Crocodile Dentist to practice the prepositions next to, beside, to the right, to the left, middle, and between

8.  Sequence vocabulary:  A card game to practice positional vocabulary such as 1st, last, middle, end, and beginning

10.  Silly sentences with semantic errors.  The child is required to tell what is wrong and correct the sentences with better words.

11.  Silly sentences with transportation vocabulary

12. Silly sentences with occupation/sport vocabulary

13. Silly sentences with animal vocabulary

14.  Skip and Pass:  This is a dice game for classroom use.  The concepts, every other one, skip one, left, and right are taught while playing the  game.

15.  Musical Chairs: This activity teaches the positional vocabulary of before, after, 1st, last, middle, using the traditional children’s game. This is a good activity for classroom use.

16. Stacking Blocks: this activity teaches left and right hands, tallest, shortest, beginning and end. this activity can be used in the classroom depending on the number of block sets you have.

17.  Spider Web:  this activity teaches the concepts above, below, over, together, left, right, and some shapes.

18.  Don’t Fall Through the Ice: this activity teaches the concept words several, a couple, many, a few, heavy, light, dry and wet

19.  Matching or Memory:  This is a resource for memory cards.  This activity teaches the concepts alike, match, the same, different, in a row, and not.

20. Question Chain:  This activity teaches the concepts long, longer, longest, short, shorter, shortest, more,  most, least, less, and answering yes and no questions.

21. Half and Whole:  This is a classroom activity to teach half and whole concepts.

22.  Bean Bag Toss:  This is a classroom activity that teaches concepts such as between, close, near, far, medium size, large and small.

23.  Never Ever Dinner Plate: This is a classroom activity that teaches the use of negatives, half, quarter, full, and categories of food.

Never Ever Dinner Plates TPT Version:  For those of you who don’t want to take the time to find all the pictures, here is a set that can be printed out.

24.  Play Clay:  Another classroom activity that uses the flexibility of clay to introduce concepts such as  long, short, whole, half, quarter,  straight and curved.

25. Hula Hoops and Jump Ropes: A class room activity that uses the concepts right, left, around, through, over, under, straight, forward, backward, sideways, and skip one.

26.  Tiddly Winks :  This childhood game can be used to teach the concepts over, edge, closest, farthest, center, smallest and largest.

27. Password: This is a simplified version of the game that uses pictures for a non reader.  It provides opportunity to compare and contrast items of the same category, name items of a category or label the category when given the items.  It takes a few minutes to down load because of the pictures.

28. Cars and Maps: This is part of my concept group games.  It teaches the concepts across, through, over, corner, beginning, end, and descriptive language.

29.  Will it Fit in  a Jar? :   This is the same card game that is in the sentence section.  It promotes comparison vocabulary, word associations, and comprehending double word meanings.  The pictures make this download take a little longer.

30.  Dominos:  This game promotes the use of the words same, different, end, matching.

31.  The Order of Things: This is for the older elementary or middle school students.  The student is required to use comparison vocabulary when placing items of a list in order.

32.  Homonym List:  A list that goes with the pear tree activity described April 15 in the blog.  Here is a great site for homonyms

33.  BINGO: a great way to learn vocabulary.  This is a printable form of what was written in the blog June 29.

34.  “The Mission”:  A card game to introduce exploration, new frontier, and science vocabulary from the 3rd and 4th grade curriculum.

35.   Animal Question Picture Cues: A board to help students generate questions for the Animal Mystery Game.

36.  Vehicle Question Picture cues:   A board to help generate questions about vehicles.

37.  Antonym list (pdf) :   A list of vocabulary typically found in Kindergarten through 5th grade.  I put these words on the ends of craft sticks.  Students can give the opposite of the word after drawing one or ends can be matched like in a game of dominos.

38. Antonym List (Excel) This list can be sorted and used for the bulletin board.  It’s easier to keep track of the words that have already been used.

39.  Half / Whole, front/back, top bottom  :  This links to Jason’s Online Classroom which has a free set of animal cards.   When I blogged about my concept group activities, number 12,  in Dec 2009,  I used  alpha cards to cut in half.  These look like a great alternative and you wouldn’t have to cut up school materials.


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