Vocabulary Enrichment: Strategies to improve and increase your students' vocabulary


Vocabulary development is an important part of a child’s education! Since language is the system of words and the methods of combining them that people use to express thoughts and feelings to each other, it makes since that a large vocabulary improves communication.

Writers most definitely need a large vocabulary to have the words they need to express themselves in an interesting way.  That’s why Shurley English establishes a routine early on to teach students to incorporate new and unfamiliar words.  It’s called a Vocabulary Check, and it includes proven strategies to increase vocabulary. Here’s how it works: 

1. Students keep a Vocabulary Notebook to write down new or unfamiliar words they want to learn more about. 

2. They are taught how to use a dictionary to look up the meaning of the word, according to how it’s been used in context, and write it in their vocabulary notebook.

3. Next, students are taught to use a thesaurus to locate a synonym for the word.  This activity helps expand students’ vocabulary by giving them word choice options.  (Repeating the same words tends to get monotonous.)  They select the synonym of their choice to replace the original word in the sentence and write it in their vocabulary notebook.

4. Students are taught to use a thesaurus to locate an antonym for the word.  Knowing antonyms expands a student’s vocabulary.  Antonyms can help emphasize the writer’s point, show contrast, or explain exactly what the writer means.  Students are asked to write their antonym word choice in their vocabulary notebook.

5. When appropriate, students also learn to use the dictionary to discover the history or etymology of a word.  Knowing the reason why a word means what it means makes it a lot more interesting and memorable, especially when students write the information in their vocabulary notebook and review the information on a regular basis.

Vocabulary Enrichment Activities are another great way to focus students’ attention on new or unfamiliar words in an effort to help them incorporate new vocabulary into their personal word bank.  They provide students with a fun and creative way to integrate required vocabulary skills in individual or in group settings. 

Fall has arrived, and it’s the perfect time to engage your students in a meaningful seasonal vocabulary enrichment activity.   Let’s say that students are learning more about the word “extinct.”  After performing the standard Vocabulary Check, you might incorporate a Vocabulary Enrichment Activity like this one:

Vocabulary Enrichment Activity with Shurley ENglish.png

Students will enjoy sharing what they have learned in this Vocabulary Enrichment Activity.  Their final drafts can be displayed in the classroom. In addition, you might connect the Vocabulary Enrichment Activity to a simple art project like this:

Creepy Crawly Spiders with Shurley ENglish.png
Spider Craft Image with Shurley ENglish.png
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Jamie Geneva

Jamie Geneva is the Senior National Consultant at Shurley Instructional Materials and is a seasoned subject matter expert in the realm of English Language Arts.  Her career with the company began during the days of the Shurley Method binder, which was pre-1st Edition, and has spanned across three decades.  Over the years, her various roles have included teacher, presenter, state representative, consultant, manager, and most recently, a Shurley English Digital Assistant.  You might not recognize her face, but her voice could certainly sound familar.  That’s because she’s recorded Jingles, Q&A Flow Sentences, and other Shurley English content for many, many years. 

Jamie and her husband, Garret, live in the foothills of eastern Oklahoma. She loves spending quality time with her family, traveling, reading, cooking, and staying connected on social media.

Ms. Geneva received her B.S. degree in Elementary Education and her M.Ed in Public School Administration from Northeastern State University in Tahlequah, OK.