It’s no secret that having a strong vocabulary is essential for middle school students to develop reading comprehension skills. But teaching vocabulary in a fun and engaging way can be a challenge. The good news is, there are lots of fun activities that will help students learn the words they need to become better readers.
Word Walls create a visual reminder of academic terms
A word wall is a visual reminder for students about the academic terms you are currently using in class. Each new word should be written on a card with a definition written beside it. If possible, it is also helpful to have a sample sentence or illustrate the word.
Using word walls not only helps cement the meaning of each term in your student’s minds, but it can also serve as a designated space that allows students to easily refer back to new terms during independent work time.
Creating visual reminders of academic terms is one way to make sure students remember them and use them correctly. Word walls also give teachers an easy way to reinforce concepts and terms with their class.
Explore Words with Word of the Week
Students need an understanding that words are more than definitions – they have a purpose within the language. To help students truly understand this, try Word of the Week. One word a week may not seem like enough to really help students build a strong vocabulary, but one word a week is enough to help students understand the function of words within the language. Word of the week should be used in addition to other vocabulary-building activities.
Choose one vocabulary word each week for students to investigate further. Students should explore dictionary definitions and synonyms or antonyms for the word, as well as, its parts of speech. To deepen that knowledge, encourage students to give examples-and even better yet non-examples of the word in action, and write sentences using the word correctly!
Get creative with your vocabulary review sessions!
Get creative with vocabulary review! Have your students come up with creative ways to remember and review previously learned terms by drawing silly cartoons, writing skits, or creating stories filled with new words—the possibilities are endless! Not only will this help students remember important terms going forward; it will also give them a chance to express themselves creatively while learning something new!
Vocabulary Funny – A vocabulary funny is like a one frame comic. Students first write a sentence using the new vocabulary term correctly, then they draw a picture to demonstrate the word. The visual will help students to retain the word and make part of their academic vocabulary.
A fun extension to the vocabulary funny is holding a class contest. Students pick out their best cartoon and the class votes on the most creative one. This is always a hit with the students and helps all students review multiple words.
Vocabulary Skits – Students may shy away from this one at first, but once they engage in a few of them, this will soon be a favorite of many! Vocabulary skits are similar to the vocabulary funny, meaning that students pick a word, and write a sentence but instead of drawing the word in action, they act out their sentence. This activity is perfect for partners or small groups.
Vocabulary Sketches – Vocabulary sketches are a great way to review words creatively. Students draw two columns or you can use this premade assignment. In the first column, students write one of the words they want to review and in the second column, students draw a sketch. This activity would be an engaging way to differentiate vocabulary review activities.
Gamify your review!
It’s no secret that students love to play games! Gamifying your review will bring a lot of fun to a task that some see as boring. Try playing Pictionary or Bingo using terms from the unit you’re studying—this will help keep students engaged and motivated while reinforcing the new words.
For more creative ways to learn and review vocabulary, be sure to catch the Middle School Cafe podcast (episodes 13, 14, and 15).
In order for middle schoolers to truly understand what they’re reading in any subject area they must first master key vocabulary words related to that material. Teachers must make learning these terms engaging and enjoyable so that students will stay engaged throughout the lesson.
Middle schoolers need activities that are fun but still educational, which is why these activities offer an ideal balance between entertainment and academics. By incorporating fun activities like these into your vocabulary lessons, you’ll ensure that your students are learning in meaningful ways. So give these games and activities a try – you may just find that even middle schoolers enjoy getting creative with their learning!