“Smashing someone in the head with the milk jug is not innocuous, but it is considered battery,” informed my 9-year-old.
“This is true. It could hurt.”
His sister chimed in, “When the battery on my iPod abates, I am not gregarious.”
Then the seven-year-old declared, “Force shield are impervious to nerf darts.”
“Alright. Alright, everyone. Go ahead and get your mints.”
After eight years of homeschooling, this is the first year that the kids (and I) have found a system for learning new vocabulary words works well for us.
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Admittedly, I am feeling sanguine about all of the possible words my kids and I are going to learn this year. In the past, we have tried workbooks, computer games, and general reading vocabulary lists but nothing ever felt right.
My homeschooling vision doesn’t really include worksheets of vocabulary. In my head, it looks more like fun conversations, but I wasn’t sure how to get there.
During the early homeschooling years of vocabulary workbooks, I typed and printed out the assigned words for each child. I hung the words in the kitchen to encourage our use of the words during dinner conversations. Clearly, I was desperate to make my vision a reality. I mean who types up the words from Wordly Wise to hang in the kitchen?
All in all, it was a good effort but it never felt fun. It wasn’ t “us”.
No one enjoyed the workbooks. And typing the words was tedious. And with multiple kids and multiple lists…I just gave up.
For three years we stopped the use of any formal vocabulary list or curriculum. Instead, we simply read and discussed great literature. Literature is full of vocabulary terms for growing minds. And this method was good. It felt right. We were connected to words in context.
Then last year I came across Marie’s Words SAT Vocabulary Flashcards. I was intrigued. I thought it might be time to be a bit more purposeful about including some SAT words for my oldest daughter.
This fantastic set includes 550 vocabulary flashcards. Each card is illustrated with a memorable picture that helps to connect the word to its meaning. The back of the card includes the definition, part of speech, and both synonyms and antonyms.
Was this be the answer to my vocabulary dream? I hoped so.
I began last year by including the words in our morning basket. Each week we learned new words and reviewed previously learned terms. We laughed and created silly sentences. And once again, it was good. The system fit our family structure and it worked for us the entire year.
But I still wanted more, so I tweaked the plan again for this year.
This year the words are finally part of our everyday conversation! My kids attempt to include them in statements all day long. And two months into the school year, we are still going strong.
So what is working so well this year?
1. The lifesaver reward system is magical. One lifesaver for one vocabulary word. It is amazing what my kids will do for a lifesaver or pumpkin candy corn!
2. I also returned to the idea of posting the words in our kitchen. Only this time, I don’t have to type them. The Marie’s Words flashcards happen to fit perfectly in 9-pocket trading card sheets. (which you might just happen to have if your kids collect Pokemon cards.)
We are no longer restricted to workbooks. Or online games. Or morning basket time.
We have ALL the words ALL of the time. or something like that. And I am finally ecstatic about our approach to learning new vocabulary.