One regret I have about my time in kindergarten through high school is that I didn’t learn more vocabulary words, so I didn’t know how to integrate them into my writing. While I enjoyed spelling, I rarely took the time to learn what a word meant and how to use it. Now that I’ve graduated college and have exited the classroom, I’ve realized how important it is to be able to use words well, especially when writing—and this often means learning what words actually mean.
But, there’s so many words! It’s easy to get overwhelmed at the idea of learning definitions because ultimately, the words in the dictionary seem limitless. Believe me, I once read through half of the “As” and couldn’t get any farther! What are some ways to help your homeschool student learn new words this summer and thus become better at including these words into their writing?
I’ve got a few tips to help with that!
Sign up for the Merriam-Webster “Word of the Day” e-mail.
It’s simple to sign up for the word of the day at the link above. You and your homeschool student can have fun learning the new word of the day. Then, you can both try to creatively work the word into your conversations. You and your homeschool student could even have a competition: who will accurately include the word most within a day? Then, you get to start the fun all over again the next day!
Watch a movie with your homeschool student and ask them to write down every word they don’t recognize.
Then, ask them to write what they think the word means based on the context it’s used in. Your homeschool student can better guess a definition when they understand context by asking questions such as, “Who is speaking the words?” and “What is the setting?” For example, in Beauty and the Beast, what do the villagers mean when they sing about Belle that “behind that fair facade, they believe she’s rather odd”? And, what might “provincial life” be? Then, after the movie is over, you can pull out the dictionary and find the words together. Then, ask your homeschool student to write out the definitions and say the word aloud in the sentence. Perhaps the next time you watch that movie together, your student (and maybe you, too) will know what the words mean!
Look around your home on a vocab scavenger hunt.
You can ask your homeschool student to look around for unfamiliar words on books, magazines, packaging (though maybe not shampoo bottle ingredients), and write them all down on a sheet of paper. Then, once you’ve collected all the unfamiliar words, look them up in the dictionary. If you’d like to take vocab-learning to the next level, take out Mr. Thesaurus and invite your student to look up the new words to find their synonyms. Through this activity, homeschool students can make connections for how words convey similar and different meanings.
However you may choose to learn new words with your student this summer, I hope your mental appetite is satiated. (Maybe this can be the first word your student looks up in the dictionary!) And when the school year begins again, don’t be surprised when your homeschool student slips a brand-new vocabulary word into their writing from all the fun time you’ve spent learning new words together.