Teaching Vocabulary Words

5 Comments May 9, 2012 in Parenting and Homeschool

We were visiting great friends for a few weeks. One of their kids used a big word in his conversation – and suddenly they all interrupted with a cheer, ‘Cookie Word’!

Cookie Words!

We had no idea what a cookie word was, so they explained.

Their kids were encouraged to use big words in everyday communication. If they did, they’d get… a cookie! Therefore it became a ‘Cookie Word’.

We’ve never given cookies, but we’ve adapted the game and when someone uses a big word in context in everyday conversation (Mom, I have a headache. It’s like my cerebellum is pulsing.) then we cheer ‘Yeah! Cookie Word!’

It’s fun!

Teaching Vocabulary Words - Carla Anne Coroy - Literati Challenge game

Teaching Vocabulary

There are lots of good ways to build your kids’ vocabulary! Here are some ideas:

  • Read the Bible to them out loud, and when old enough, have them read it to you. Stop and ask for definitions of words they may not understand. It helps them get the story, too.
  • Read out loud to them as much as you can. We learn many definitions from context and tone. Read with inflection and they will understand almost every word. Read a word often enough and they’ll start to use it.
  • Don’t just read kid books. Find books with big words that have fascinating stories (The Door Within, for example).
  • Old words are often good cookie words. Find old, old stories or even the KJV if you want to try some old English.
  • Grab the dictionary! Find a good word every morning at breakfast and declare it the cookie word of the day! Then give rewards for whoever uses that word correctly in conversation throughout the day. (Even better if they include it in their written assignments!)
  • Buy a good vocabulary game. Balderdash is excellent. So is Literati Challenge. Literati Challenge is really for ages 13+, but we have used it younger and it’s fun. We’ve learned great words like perspicacity and odious. (Do you know what they mean?)
  • Ban boring words like ‘whatever’ and ‘good’ and ‘nice’ and ‘okay’ and ‘fine’. Choose a word to ban for the day and see how creative you can be with finding better, cookie words to replace it.

How about you?

How do you teach vocabulary to your kids? Do you have a cookie word you’d like to share?

(I have two I’m just dying to share… but I won’t until someone leaves a good cookie word in the comments!)

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  1. Shanyn says:

    Oh my if I used that for every ‘cookie word’ that was said in our house we’d be out of cookies! Vocabulary is something we all have fun with, it is word entomology that really gets my almost 7 year old excited! He loves using new words, and figuring out how to use them in new ways. He is an avid reader and we always read things outloud – books, signs, magazines, warnings, ingredients.

    Lately we’ve been finding dual meaning words (there and their) and words that can be used different ways. Just the other day we talked about the quote where genius is a percentage perspiration and a percentage inspiration. Right away Luke asks if you get more inspiration with more perspiration…and once we all got done laughing we talked about how it can be hard work to be inspired and to follow through on inspiration.

    I like your idea of banning boring words. That’s a really good idea! :-)

    • Carla Anne says:

      Shanyn, may I have fun with you?? 😀 My mom worked in the Entomology department at the U of M… so I know that it means the study of insects. Could you have meant etymology – the study of words? And here we are… vocabulary again!! I love it!

      • Shanyn says:

        You know those are two words I can NEVER get straight…thanks for the good catch there Carla Anne! :-) I do know the difference, and have books on both but thought one and typed the other! That is funny.

        • Carla Anne says:

          You know, if my mom hadn’t have worked in that area I would probably get it just as confused. But the funny thing is how often people actually mix them up. I just hear it because I’ve heard my mom talk about entomology. I actually had a hard time with the word etymology because it always sounded ‘wrong’. So close… but yet so far!! :)

          • Shanyn says:

            That I totally get! With me, growing up around animals, I know that a foal, colt and filly are all young horses but two of those names do not apply to all young horses, only one does.

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