So one way to work on expanding vocabulary in your students' writing is to explore degrees of meaning with synonyms. After all, there is a difference between the word eat and the word devour, right? Although they'd be considered synonyms, certainly the intensity is not the same. Students need to learn the importance of revising their work and that it's okay for writing to not be "perfect" with the first draft. I will never forget the first writing assignment I did with a struggling fifth grader new to my building who looked at me in confusion when I told her she was ready to revise. She had no idea what the word revise meant. So often, kids just...want...it...done. Do you see that? By working in activities to expand vocabulary, we make student writing richer and help them to see the connections between words. Students need to work with words 12-15 times for words to become part of a student's vocabulary. The freebie to the right I used with my students. We followed up with the paint swatch activity to practice using the thesaurus. There are many neat variations on this concept. Below are a few...
This freebie from Christina Cottongame may come in handy as an alternative to picking up paint swatches from your local Home Depot or Lowes. It would make an adorable bulletin board for reference all year long. I love that Christina included 2, 3, and 4 section swatches for additional challenge.
Another options for expanding word knowledge for overused words is with games like Parking Lot. It is basically a matching game where the student tries to match up upper case/lower case letters, beginning sound with pictures, word with definition, or in this case, the overused words with replacement words. I used this game with my group in teams, but it would work well with a partner too. This idea works well for antonyms too. I will try to add those to this freebie soon since I'm out of time for this evening. If you download, try to remember to check back in the future.
Finally, the last suggestion requires absolutely no materials and is strictly oral. The synonym/antonym game is all about mystery words. The teacher provides students with a dead word, and students work to figure out the replacement...synonym or antonym. Higher level thinking...yep! Research...could be. Fun? Definitely!
Now, I must sign off and get my plans together for this week. I hope you enjoy these activities and that your students do too. In Virginia, this standard includes a LOT, so I will be back soon with a few more ways to address it.
Until then...stay calm and teach on!