Friday, September 20, 2013

Vocabulary 'round here

One of the signs of giftedness you can pick up on when your children are young, is advanced speech, in terms of vocabulary, correct grammar and articulation. My son's preschool teachers, although worried about his apparent disinterest in playing with the other children, were impressed by his extensive vocabulary at the age of three.

Both my children have long been able to use a huge range of words, usually in the correct context and with the correct grammar. This is great when they need to tell a story or describe something to you, not so great when they are trying to argue with you at the ripe old age of 4. Ahem.

I think they were able to pick up this vocabulary from both listening to me and my hubby (we are no slouches ourselves in that department!) and also from their early love of books. I also tried to make sure they had good literature to read (Rainbow Fairies and Captain Underpants notwithstanding).

So when we came to homeschool, with some schooling behind us and Naplan test results under our belts, I knew they had great vocab and could use it grammatically correctly (especially verbally, not as well in written form). So I haven't really concentrated on studying vocabulary as a formal thing in our homeschool. I've certainly continued to use good literature and by default increase our vocabulary.

But Wombat Girl has taken it upon herself to come up with a "Word of the Day" on our whiteboard. Just about every day, without fail, she adds a new, exciting word:

I downloaded a Vocabulary Web worksheet from the College of William and Mary's Centre for Gifted Education ages ago and we did one once. But I thought I might get the kids to fill one in a bit more often, based on our Word of the Day.

In attempting to find synonyms and antonyms for our Word of the Day, I got out our old Dictionary and Thesaurus. But that's so 1900s. Look what I found instead:

It's a visual thesaurus  - Visuwords! I like the colour coded links to other words. I also liked the Visual Thesaurus:

When you click on the words, you get more and more options. But you eventually have to shell out $$ to keep using it. I did - I think we'll get some use out of it.

Totally free is - and this totally came in handy for examples of using a word in a sentence and the origins of words (etymology).

Speaking of etymology (which my kids are quite fascinated by), the Online Etymology Dictionary is a great resource for where our words came from, how old they are and how they sounded 600 or 2000 years ago:

Speaking of which, Learn That Word's "Word Roots" page is super helpful too:

We tried doing Copywork as a handwriting practice tool and as an avenue to experiencing more vocabulary, but more often than not in our household, it lead to copious volumes of tears. Um, so, no. Not for us.

But I just found a fabulous, interactive resource that might just float our vocabulary boats, and give our writing a much needed increase in output - Word Tamer:

We entered (we dared!) and clicked on Wild Words, where "pluck" three words out of the air that appeal to you and then use them in some free-flowing writing. Pretty cool, huh?  Look at what my two "I hate writing" but great vocabulary kids came up with:

"Darkness had fell and disaster had struck. Shadows literally flowing everywhere. The Great Land of  Mistyc was being covered by a cloak of evil. It ran through the streams and plains, trickled though the forests and meadows, and sprinted through the swamps and deserts. Civilisations fought bravely but The Dark's power was growing. No one knew what or who was causing The Age of Darkness but everyone knew only one thing could stop it. Jewel Magic..."

They then used this to write a bit more (with ambition - they called it "Chapter One").

We need to work on putting our thoughts in order and getting a bit faster, especially responding to essay/comprehension questions or doing research. This is not going to be an easy process, and will require buckets of patience from me (mostly) and them. It is not their strength and falls squarely in the "executive functioning disorder" category. But at least I know that's the reason, rather than just being cranky with them for being lazy.

So, while we don't have prolific writers around here and more often than not, a writing assignment from me is met with tears and frustration, when they DO put pen to paper (or finger to keyboard) they come up with good stuff - at least vocabulary-wise.


  1. Totally relate here, entomology is a big part of our lives. thanks for the Word Tamer link! great idea to boost our writing for next term too!

    1. I'm always trying to to boost my kids writing! A never-ending task...

  2. Check out the book "The Word Spy" which my kids adore ... I am actually writing a blog post about it ... which I may never finish ... lol

    1. Oh, we have this! Or got it out from the library! Or something. Yes - great book. BTW - this post sat in "drafts" for a couple of months at least. Finally got it finished!

    2. Great article. Thanks for sharing. There's also Return of the Word Spy, and the Word Spy Activity book, if you haven't got them already. They were a big hit with my kids. :)


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