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A list of “words to know” hangs on the whiteboard at the front of Jill Day’s second grade classroom. Some words are long and some are short, but one thing they all have in common is the fact that these second graders are masters at defining, spelling, and acting them out.
A boring vocabulary lesson hardly exists in Mrs. Day’s class as she allows her students to express what these new words mean through actions. She does this by first going through the list of words and saying them out loud with the class, careful to pronounce each syllable and vowel. Once the class becomes comfortable with the new word, they decide on an action that represents that word. When all words have been assigned an action, the fun can begin.
As Day randomly calls out the words from their list, the students must hurry and do the action that goes with it. Doing so helps them remember the word and the meaning of it. Day then switches things up halfway through the lesson and has a student come to the front of the room. The selected student will then make the action as the rest of the class tries to guess the word that matches it. To finish the lesson, students grab their journals and draw pictures to go with the words they just learned.
Not only is this vocabulary lesson fun and engaging, it also helps to fulfill the Phonics and Word Recognition Standard 3. This activity will continue throughout the year as new words are introduced to the class and placed on the list of “words to know”.