How to Increase Student Vocabulary


 Not all students have the same background knowledge or out of school experiences. This often leads to a limited vocabulary. So how can you increase student vocabulary? Be intentional about teaching vocabulary! Vocabulary study doesn’t have to only include words from literature. It can also include nonfiction text vocabulary. Science and social studies texts are vocabulary rich and often complex. I like to integrate science and social studies content vocabulary into my reading block to make the most use of our time.

 Here are 5 ways to increase student vocabulary:

1. Use vocabulary posters and anchor charts.

I love to use vocabulary posters in my classroom. Posters are a visual tool that connects to the text. When new vocabulary is visible, students are more likely to use it. Hang posters on a word wall or bulletin board. Refer students to the posters often. Have an extra 5 minutes in class? Use the vocabulary posters for a fun quiz game!

2. Make Vocabulary Foldables.

Vocabulary foldables are just one of many foldables that I use in the classroom. Foldables are engaging and require students to interact with the text. First have students reread the text to learn the definitions. Then use the foldables for a study tool. Finally glue foldables into an interactive notebook! During the reading block, have students make a vocabulary foldable using their science or social studies text.

3. Context clues graphic organizers

Using context clues to determine word meaning is a reading standard for many grade levels. I love using graphic organizers with science and social studies text to practice this skill. In a reading center or small group lesson, use informational text and guide students to learn new words by using context clues.

4. Vocabulary sentence writing

Using new vocabulary in writing is a great way for students to apply their new vocabulary knowledge. Make a writing center that includes a list of new words and paper. Students write a sentence using each of the new words. I like to make a sentence writing page like the ones in the pictures above. Students must use two related words in a sentence together. These make an easy, meaningful vocabulary or writing center activity.

5. Use vocabulary rich small group text

When choosing text for small group reading instruction, I prefer to use science and social studies content when possible. This allows me to cover multiple cross-curricular standards at the same time! Choose a vocabulary rich text for small group instruction that can easily be tied to multiple reading standards. I choose to make most of my units for the purpose of covering both reading and science/ social studies content. If you are interested in any of the units I have referenced in the photos here, check them out below!

Science/ Social Studies Units with Vocabulary Practice

Learning new vocabulary makes students better readers, authors, and communicators. Choose one of the methods above or come up with your own way to be intentional with vocabulary study!

Missed other parts of the series? Check them out here!

Integrating Science and Social Studies into Reading Post #1

Integrate Science Text into Reading Post #2

Happy teaching!