Vocabulary: how to plan it.

Teaching words within a context is crucial if you want that word to embed in your children’s memories. The way I’m trying to achieve this at the moment is by planning the words I teach carefully in relation to the current topic, writing units, and speaking opportunities.

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In this blog, I want to try and give you an insight into how I choose the words I will teach during the daily vocabulary sessions that run in my classroom. I will do this by looking back at a week from last half term. Here goes.

Overarching topic: Potions.

Writing unit: instructions texts.

Words taught: simmering, potent, precise, concoct, consume.

Why? The children were tasked to write instructions for a witch/wizard//apothecary to make a potion of their choosing. Simmering offered a great way to describe how the brew would look when it was either ready to be served, or ready to move on to the next instruction. It also opened discussion to how this word was different to similar words like hot and boilingPotent was my favourite word of the week, it really got children thinking about the strength, power, and effectiveness of their elixirs. What ingredients in particular would give it its potency?  Precise was taught as we were learning about how to use exact measurements to ensure whoever was making the potion used the correct amount. This gave it a real context, and the children now had a word to describe why their measurements had to be accurateConcoct provided lots of different ways to describe their mixture. We spoke about how we were mixing lots of ingredients together, and how we could use the word as a noun (concoction). Consume fitted really nicely with our ‘How do you know its worked’ section. Some children had chosen to create powders, liquids, tinctures, even potent cakes (true story), and this word gave the opportunity to talk about how their potions would be taken by their … subjects.

All these words have been specifically chosen to allow children to use these words as often as possible in their speech and writing. If vocabulary is planned like this, it then lends itself much easier to your teaching, and the things you say. Therefore exponentially increasing the amount of exposures these words get.

All of the words taught each work go home on a sheet called ‘Fridge Words’. This is a Word Aware idea. The sheet I send home looks like:

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If you would like a copy >> Fridge words template. Each sheet includes the words taught, and a definition from the Collins COBUILD (available for free online); it’s important that the parents know what the words mean, too!

If you are doing your own daily sessions, or would like to start, I would love to talk to you and help in any way I can. I’m not an expert by any means, just a teacher who loves words, and really believes in the power words can have with children.

4 thoughts on “Vocabulary: how to plan it.

  1. Hi,

    This sounds awesome. I love the idea of sending the words home to enable parents to get onside with broadening their children’s vocabulary as well as their own. I will be sharing your ‘Fridge’ words template with colleagues at my school, so thank you for sharing.

    I’m been reading a few of the blog entries you have posted, and, although I understand that each session is around 10 minutes, I was wondered whether you are teaching a new word every day in that 10 minutes?

    • Hi, Margo! Thank you for reading, and taking the time to comment. Much appreciated. To answer your question: yes, I do teach a new word every day in that ten minutes. There is a whole system where words are taught, then encouraged in writing/speaking, then recapped and revisited periodically. If I can be of any more assistance, don’t be afraid to shout! 🙂

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