Knowing your vocabulary is critical for language comprehension. It’s like understanding which LEGO bricks you are using to construct your Harry Potter Hogwarts Castle set. Without that understanding, all you have is a mumble of bricks. Fortunately, there are a variety of tools available to help educators teach their students. Here are some notable resources for your toolkit.
- Thesaurus.com - A thesaurus is a dictionary’s best friend. Once a student has found the definition of a new vocabulary term, s/he can find synonyms and antonyms just as easily. For some, a Visual Thesaurus may be a more engaging tool.
- Quizlet - This student favorite may be known mainly for their flash cards, but they also offer multiple choice quizzes, study games, and audio pronunciations. The site is easy to navigate and can be used to create your own flash cards and quizzes too. Or, browse through a massive list of study sets created by other teachers to get going quickly.
- VocabularySpellingCity - This website holds lots of resources, from audio pronunciations to word games to printable worksheets to teacher training videos. You’re bound to find something here you can use. It has both free and paid plans for parents and K-12 teachers.
- Kids Vocab - An iPad app from the language-learning app maker MindSnacks designed for students ages seven to twelve. Nine games teach and strengthen the learner’s vocabulary skills, such as word to definition matches. Includes one free lesson in each game. Twenty-five more lessons are available for a fee. Educators can see a summary of their students’ performance.
- Vocab-a-splat - An iPad & iPhone app for young students aged four to six. This game is based on education research and includes 400 popular words. Students fling balls of paint at the picture that matches the spoken word, hence the “splat” in the name. Words are organized by themes and get progressively harder as the game goes on, though hints are offered along the way.
- Word Joust for K-5 - An iPhone app designed for primary school students. 300 popular words are taught through a set of games presented on a medieval battlefield. The games include a word scramble, word & definition match, word search, a word battle, and hangman. There is also a version for students in grades 6-8.
- First Sight Words Professional - Another iPad & iPhone app designed for pre-K to third-grade students that also goes through 300 popular words. This app is a simple word-building game where each letter is sounded as it is dragged by the student. Educators can control the game’s difficulty by offering more hints and choosing the words shown. The game focuses on positive reinforcement rather than negative signals.
- Toontastic - To assess your students’ vocabulary, here is an iPad app where they can tell a story by recording their voices alongside an animated cartoon. Give your learners a chance to exercise their creativity and test their newly expanded vocabulary. Toontastic is just one of many digital storytelling tools out there. Choices abound, though Toontastic is one of the more popular ones.
What websites and apps do you use for teaching vocabulary?
Mike Lee, Co-founder of edshelf