Vocabulary Practice for Read Aloud Books

I've tried tackling vocabulary from the traditional "Schooly" way with workbooks. I suppose it worked fine enough. But I always found that many of the words were too easy or irrelevant to my daughter's life.

So then I tried using a more organic approach to vocabulary and gleaned my vocab lists from our reading, both silent and read aloud. I would plug these words into spelling city dot com (most of that site is free but you can pay for the extra goodies). Again, that worked for a while, but quickly became tedious and boring for her. She keeps me on my toes, I'll give her that.

Then I tried just giving her a list of our words from reading and then asking her to choose four or five to look up in the dictionary. HOLY MOLY! It was like pulling teeth. She apparently doesn't heart the dictionary just yet.

Well, then I decided to try something new. I'm not sure how this idea came to me, but I'm glad it did because it seems to be working (so far). I wrote each vocab word on an index card with a sharpie. Then I hole punched the upper left corner and put all the cards on a ring. I then read through the words with her several times so she would know how to pronounce them and would recognize them while listening to the book.

I handed her the dictionary (YIKES) and asked her to listen for the words on her cards as I read aloud. When she hears a word from the list, she has the option of writing down her own understanding of the word's meaning given its context in the book, or looking it up in the dictionary. I suggested that she write down the page number that the word appears on in case she wants to go back and read the word in context later.

As we began it was fun, but I quickly realized the dictionary was actually much more of a nuisance than a help. Stopping to look up the words slowed us down and interrupted the flow of our story. It was much more fun and productive to have her infer the meaning from the text and write down her own definition. If she had trouble with this, I would then have her pull out the dictionary. Or if we were anxious to read on, I'd just give her guidance until she arrived at the correct definition. Thus we remained on friendly terms with the dictionary and kept our story rolling.

I should mention that I only give her vocabulary words from a few chapters at a time. I don't give her all the vocab words from the entire book. She'll have several sets of words on separate rings by the time we finish the book.

So far...it's working. I like having the words on separate cards and gathered on rings. I think it will make it easy to have fun review games at the end of the book. I'm envisioning vocabulary memory games or matching games. I like this better than workbooks, straight dictionary work, or resorting to online vocab practice. Asking her to do anything online simply leads to endless dawdling and game playing. ICK!