New Vocabulary Words for Children

Did you know:

•Students must learn 3,000 words per year by 3rd grade. 

•Only 400 words a year are directly taught by teachers. 

•Students do not learn vocabulary words based on their age or their grade. 

•They learn words based on their experiences , (Beck, et al, 2002) 

•Academic demands are high

•Everyday speech consists of only 5,000- 7,000 words. 

Parents and teachers have a role to play in expanding a child’s vocabulary. The more children read and hear books read aloud, as well as listen and engage in conversations, the more they are exposed to new words. When a child asks, “What does that mean?” they should be told an accurate and appropriate definition based on their age and cognitive ability to make meaning of the word.

Children learn new words through experiences, therefore science experiments, videos, art, movement,  fieldtrips, guest speaker are important. Engaging in conversations allows a child to hear and practice new words. Visuals are particularly valuable to expand vocabulary, as most children are visual learners. Using multi-sensory activities helps place new learning into longterm memory. It’s important for new words to be presented in kid-friendly terms.

Here are examples of Common Core State Standards for vocabulary acquisition for Grade 2 (this is only a sampling, check out the full list online :

Determine or clarify the meaning of unknown and multiple-meaning words and phrases based on grade 2 reading and content, choosing flexibly from an array of strategies.

Use sentence-level context as a clue to the meaning of a word or phrase.

Determine the meaning of the new word formed when a known prefix is added to a known word (e.g., happy/unhappy, tell/retell).

Use a known root word as a clue to the meaning of an unknown word with the same root (e.g., addition, additional).

This is a great way to show “shades of meaning.” Teach synonyms in a visual manner. Paint strips can be found at Walmart and hardware stores.

Great Resource

Remember that children acquire vocabulary primarily from experiences. MAKE IT FUN.

In order to teach vocabulary, you must be aware of the three different types or tiers. Tier 1 vocabulary can be classified as everyday vocabulary that we use in life around us. This type of vocabulary is often learned orally at a young age, reading, and daily experiences. 

Tier 2 vocabulary is high utility words found in cross curricular texts. 

• They are academic words that are general enough to be used across all domains, yet are not part of students’ everyday social language. 

Example:  students know “happy,” but may not know, “contented.” 

Tier 2 words need to be taught because they are not used daily and it increases a student’s vocabulary to know synonyms. 

Tier 3 vocabulary is domain or content specific. For example, if teaching about circles, the word circumference or radius would need to be taught. Or if you are doing an ancient civilizations unit on Egypt, the word hieroglyphics would need to be explained. Students’ academic success comes when specific instruction of both Tier 2 and Tier 3 vocabulary is taught.

Have students create their own Vocabulary Journal.

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Children’s Books for Visualization

The ability to visualize helps comprehension.

When a child is able to form an image in their mind, it helps them understand what they are reading. It provides a context based on the child’s prior knowledge. Teachers can lead students to visualize by reading aloud and having students either draw what they “see,” write about it, or discuss with a partner.

Here are some books to assist with Visualization:

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Anybody Home?

A child’s imagination is unlimited and should be encouraged and celebrated. Reading to children and asking questions like, “I wonder what will happen next,” allows them to construct their own scenarios. Children learn through repetition and exposure to a variety of experiences. 

Books that become familiar are like the foundation of a house. Once a child finds a book that sparks their imagination, they see wonderful possibilities that didn’t exist before.  A trip to the library can open a world of possibilities to a growing mind. Reading aloud is especially important in that it helps children equate reading with caring and enjoyment.  

Fairy Tales offer an opportunity to go outside reality and explore a creative world where animals talk, a lesson is bestowed and magical things happen.  My granddaughter in the photo above is looking for fairies or leprechauns. That beautiful gift of imagination grows through books.  Here are some books that are fantasy and fairy tales. Check with your local library to see if they are available.  

Elliot is in third grade and he has magical powers.
Sisters on a magical adventure
Celia’s grandmother tell her stories about fairies and Celia tries to save the woods from demolition.
It is exhausting being a unicorn. Read this just before bed.

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The Power of Books

Begin your collection of children’s books. Make sure you check out your local library book sales, thrift stores, yard sales, online sources.

So good she just couldn’t put it down….

Last night I fell asleep reading a thriller (my new favorite genre). Mind you, it was 1 a.m. and I was hopeful I would finish the last third of the book. There is something hypnotic about eyes moving across a page, even if it is a thriller. When a parent reads to a child the child learns to equate books with pleasure and comfort. Changing your voice to match the personality of a character captivates a child. They learn to imitate the reader. So much of what children learn is through imitation. Parents who read books leave an imprint that promotes a love of reading.

It is important that children select their own books to allow them to explore their interests. Books are the passageways to other cultures, places, experiences. The books they choose must be at their reading level. It’s good to use the “Five Finger Rule.” If a child makes 5 mistakes when reading a page, that book is too difficult. Direct the child to a book that is appropriate for their reading level yet honors their choice. If they insist on a book that is too hard, offer to read it to them. It’s always best when they find a book they can read themself.

These days children are doing much of their reading on devices (iPads, phones, laptops). You may think, “at least they’re reading,” but a Harvard study showed that,

“...the use of digital devices before bedtime prolongs the time it takes to fall asleep, interferes with the circadian clock, the sleep-promoting hormone melatonin, REM sleep, and reduces alertness the following morning. Use of light-emitting devices at bedtime also makes one more alert, so it’s hard to fall asleep.” (

Put your Ipad or phone in another room before bedtime. Resist the urge to allow children to use a device prior to bedtime.

Make sure a child has access to books. Local libraries, thrift stores, Little Libraries, garage sales, online read aloud websites, and book swaps are ways to accumulate your personal library. Check out these:

Storyline Online:

Start early. Read aloud! Children will imitate you!
Introduce children to books and have a variety of rhyming books.

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The Power of Books

This happens to me all the time. Books ignite the imagination and take us on a journey.

Here are some books I have read recently and recommend. 

A book that grips you and takes you for a mystery tour. A bit of sleuthing is always fun.
Not like any other self-help book I have ever read. reveals practical strategies that will teach you exactly how to form good habits, break bad ones, and master the tiny behaviors that lead to remarkable results. implementing these strategies can be life-changing.
A resource for anyone who has suffered inherited trauma. Full of life-changing stories, powerful insights, and practical tools for personal healing, this book offers hope to heal.
Offers ways to live your best life. An accessible read with a wealth of information, this friendly book will help you keep your brain sharp with easy-to-implement everyday steps we can all take to keep our brains healthy and strong. 

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Great Ipad Apps For guided Reading

******Use the above link to access a great resource for early readers. The best part is that it will highlight words as they are read.

Here are GREAT RESOURCES, some have a free trial period.











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Book Videos

Outstanding story about overcoming fear.

 The Emperor’s Egg video

Learn about Emperor penguins in this delightful, informative book.

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Free Online Reading Sites for students

These links provide free online reading opportunities for students. The four below are read by astronauts!

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Teaching Vocabulary

•Students must learn 3,000 words per year by 3rd grade. •Only 400 words a year are directly taught by teachers. •Academic demands are high •Everyday speech consists of only 5,000- 7,000 words.  The books that young children are able to read are intended to help them practice their reading skills rather than build their vocabulary. While we can use these books to build the vocabulary knowledge of young children, it takes some effort and thought on the part of the teacher, tutor, or parent. 

Young children do not build their vocabulary by reading books but rather by having books read to them.

:Strategies to Teach Vocabulary Words

1. Read the story.

2. Contextualize the word within the story. 

3. Have children say the word.

4. Provide a student-friendly explanation of the word.

5. Present examples of the word used in contexts different from the story context.

6. Engage children in activities that get them to interact with the words.

7. Have children say the word. 

•For students with special needs, it is important that the teacher introduces a new word and provide VISUALS

Build on prior knowledge

Define in kid friendly terms and provide examples

Use games, songs, multi-sensory activities.

Use Semantic Mapping:

Vocabulary words fall into 3 tiers:

Tier One: Basic words that rarely require instructional focus (door, house, book)

Tier Two: Words that appear with high frequency, across a variety of domains, and are crucial when using mature, academic language (coincidence, reluctant, analysis).

Tier Three: Frequency of these words is quite low and often limited to specific fields of study (isotope, Reconstruction, Buddhism).

****Robert Marzano has written several books on Vocabulary Instruction. Here are his strategies:

Step one: The teacher explains a new word, going beyond reciting its definition (tap into prior knowledge of students, use imagery).

Step two: Students restate or explain the new word in their own words (verbally and/or in writing).

Step three: Ask students to create a non-linguistic representation of the word (a picture, or symbolic representation).

Step four: Students engage in activities to deepen their knowledge of the new word (compare words, classify terms, write their own analogies and metaphors).

Step five: Students discuss the new word (pair-share, elbow partners).

Step six: Students periodically play games to review new vocabulary (Pyramid, Jeopardy, Telephone).


Bringing Words to Life by Isabel Beck
Vocabulary Games for the Classroom by Lindsey Carlton and Robert J. Marzano
Words, Words, Words by Janet Allen
Teaching Basic and Advanced Vocabulary: A Framework for Direct Instruction by Robert J. Marzano

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Repeated readings help students with fluently. Make 2 copies of a page of text . Put them in clear plastic sleeves. Set timer for one minute. Go over errors.

Fluency is the ability to read a text accurately, quickly, and with expression

•A fluent reader reads smoothly and is interesting to listen to.

Ways to Foster Fluency:

Repeated Readings

Readers Theater

Shared Reading

Parner Reading

Choral Reading

Books on Tape

Echo Reading

How can we foster reading fluency?

  1. Paired or “Buddy” Reading. The easiest and best way to help your child develop fluency is to sit with your child and read! … 
  2. Reread Favorite Books. Another way parents can help develop fluency is to build a tall stack of books that your child can read quickly and easily. … 
  3. Record It.
  4. Reader’s Theater (select shorter passages for early readers)

10 Strategies for fluency

  • Record students reading aloud on their own. … 
  • Ask kids to use a ruler or finger to follow along. … 
  • Have them read the same thing several times. …  Check out Six Minute Fluency
  • Pre-teach vocabulary. … 
  • Drill sight words. … 
  • Make use of a variety of books and materials. … 
  • Try different font and text sizes. … 
  • Create a stress free environment.

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