Ideas for expanding writing vocabulary
This morning I presented a jam-packed workshop at the Schoolhouse Expo, a virtual homeschool conference sponsored by The Old Schoolhouse Magazine. The hour whizzed by as I shared tons of ideas for ways to creatively introduce and expand your children’s writing vocabulary. Here are just a handful of suggestions from today’s session.
Be a Writing Role Model
You’ve heard that if you want your children to become readers, they need to see you reading. Likewise, to raise writers, you must make sure they see you writing. When your child writes, think about stopping to write as well.
- Draw attention to your writing. Point out times that you use writing to communicate with others.
- Talk about writing opportunities. Explain the purpose for each kind of writing and the target audience, handwriting vs. computer, etc.
- Let your child see you prepare for a Bible study, keep a prayer journal, or take notes during church.
- Have your child help you write letters, even such routine ones as ordering items from an advertisement or writing a letter of praise or complaint to a company. This helps the child to see firsthand that writing is important to adults and truly useful.
- Take time to write in your journals together.
Copywork has so many benefits, including providing students with excellent writing models. You can use various copywork passages as opportunities to look up unfamiliar words, which is a great way to naturally expand your children’s vocabulary.
You can purchase resources specifically intended for the purpose of copying. Or simply encourage copying Bible verses, hymns, favorite poems, passages of literature, or famous quotations.
Suggest Making Lists
Making lists is an effective writing tool for all ages. Most children like to create lists anyway, but writing out lists—from the mundane to the meaningful—also helps them become more organized. Taken a step further, when list-making is used as a brainstorming tool, it can even help students plan the elements of an essay or story. And it also helps build context-specific vocabulary.
Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Show them how you keep a calendar, make grocery lists, write daily to-do lists, add to an ongoing list of projects, etc. Then your kids can make their own lists of schoolwork, dates for soccer practice and games, family birthdays, etc.
- They can inventory furniture in a room or items in a junk drawer, jewelry box, or medicine cabinet. Talk about different ways to name common objects.
- Likewise, they might make lists of their various personal possessions such as baseball cards, stuffed animals, shoes, or CDs. Collections, such as seashells or Matchbox cars, often have specific or specialized names. Learning these helps contribute to vocabulary growth.
- Another suggestion is to create word lists: Your child can begin a list with a word that describes a texture such as rough or slippery, or a character quality such as gentle, brave, or faithful. Then have him use a thesaurus to look up synonyms for that word to expand the list.