A cornerstone for teaching vocabulary is making sure students understand the “shades of meaning” for verbs and adjectives. Starting in Kindergarten, students are expected to be able to discern the subtle differences in meaning between closely related verbs and adjectives. Think, how is “glare” different from “stare”? I teach in a high ESL population so this standard is a challenge for my students who have a limited vocabulary. SOOOOO…I really hunkered down and made several FUN activities that I am excited to share here.
First, I gave the students a set of four cards with closely related words, i.e. scrub, scour, rinse, clean. They have to think about the words and come up with an “order” from least to most (using a dictionary on unknown words). I gave them a recording sheet to write this down and the student moves onto the NEXT group of cards to sort (eight sets of cards). After all students have sorted and recorded, we come back as a group and discuss the ways we ordered the cards. There were so many fantastic discussions about word meanings that came from this activity!
The next day, I broke the students up into groups of four and gave them the same card groups. This time, they had to work together to come to an agreement or sorting the words. The group below is sorting the words: whisper, talk, mumble, and shout. I loved hearing them try to work this out with saying things such as “whisper is more than a mumble”. We let their audience vote on accepting the order and then we added the word lists to a class anchor chart (picture to come later 🙂
The next day, we continued the Shades of Meaning fun with CHARADES of meaning! To play, I gave a student a card. They are able to say the clue word to their team and then act out the word card until their team guesses. For example, the student may say “the clue word is ‘look'” and then the act out PEEK until their team guesses. They were definitely encouraged to stretch out their arms to say “more” or bring their arms together to say “less”.
Needless to say, this GAME WAS A HIT! My students were begging to play for over a week! So, I made a pack of words that is more challenging. For example, clue word “jump” and the students must guess “bounce”. Lots of fun and LOTS of learning.
This is my favorite unit that I have ever created. This is specifically aligned to the 1st and 2nd grade standards but could DEFINITELY be used with Kindergarten, 3rd grade, or even 4th grade because of the different levels included. It is so fun and the kids learn so much! Did I mention it also includes two more Shades of Meaning activities, and an assessment, AND an anchor chart? It is awesome. Trust me. You can make your own or you can find it at my Teachers Pay Teachers store here.