Updated: Mar 28, 2022
Practicing vocabulary with the students in 4th to 6th grade can sometimes be challenging, because of the more complex subjects we are working with. Furthermore, many of the students know the basic words from the different subjects learned in the first years of English, but are missing many of the small words you use to make sentences. Therefore, it is difficult to make sentences and get the students to talk without practicing the sentences in advance. I have two materials I use a lot to practice vocabulary and get the students to speak more.
First material is flashcards with both word and an illustration (the bottom of the picture). Right now, we are working with nouns, so the blue flashcards is all nouns. Later on, we will have red cards (verbs) and green cards (adjectives). The students will be in groups and have a pile of cards in front of them. A student takes a card and describe the word on the card for the others without saying the actual word. The one who guess the word gets the next card. They can only speak English and is they are missing words to explain they have to try the best they can. The picture on the flashcard is there to help the ones who has dyslexia or the ones who do not know that many words.
We have also done this activity with Disney characters and other subjects. For example, you can use it to practice subjects like animals, house and so on. If the students are used making this activity from an early age, they do not think that much about not being able to make a whole sentence or the fear of sounding silly.
Second material is word-cards (the top of the picture). I have taken all the most used words from a children dictionary and divided them into groups depending on how many syllables they have. We start with the words with one syllable and work our way up. We use them in different ways depending on how the students like to work and their academic level.
We divide the words into word classes together. We use them to make contests in pairs to take turn on translating a word - a correct word is a point. We make a relay where the students run up one at a time from each team and translate the word for the teacher. If it is correct they get the word, and the next student can run up and get a word. If you do not know the word, you run back to the team and ask them. I usually make 2-4 teams in my class. We can also play scatter ball and you can be a part of the game again if you translate a word correctly. Later on, we make the games more advanced by making sentences with the word besides translating it.
I experience that the students are getting more words in their vocabulary and often knows more words than they thought. They also need to know the meaning of the small words, we do not use that often and experience how different words mean the same thing in Danish. When the students is overall secure in the level one words we go to the level two words with two syllables. I have four levels of words and right now, I am using level two and three with my two fifth graders.