1st Grade Vocabulary Words and Definitions

In 1st grade, children build upon the language skills they gained in kindergarten to begin focusing on more difficult vocabulary words. Providing your children with a variety of word and definition activities will help strengthen their reading comprehension. Make vocabulary fun for your child by creating exercises that are both challenging and fun.

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How to Create Vocabulary-Building Activities for 1st Graders

Reading and vocabulary are typically the two main focuses of 1st grade. Frequent practice is an effective way for kids to improve their skills. Hands-on practice outside of the classroom encourages active engagement and faster learning. Ask your child's teacher for a vocabulary list, and use those words at home to help improve comprehension and retention.

Vocabulary Word and Definition Exercises

Word Puzzles

Puzzles are an effective method for helping children understand and remember vocabulary words. There are a few different types of word puzzles, which you can create for additional at-home practice. Two of our favorites are crossword puzzles and word scrambles. You may choose to focus your puzzle on the words only, or you may incorporate their definitions as well.


Create a vocabulary crossword puzzle by using either definitions or images as clues for filling in the blanks. Because 1st graders are just learning to spell, it's helpful to include some letter clues in the puzzle instead of leaving it completely blank. It's also good to provide a bank of words for your child to choose from.

Word Scramble

Take your child's vocabulary list, separate the words into categories (if possible) and scramble the letters. The categories act as a clue for the words, but your child will have to play with the letters and know the correct spelling. For example, you may choose the category, 'Months of the Year,' and the scrambled words will be each of the 12 months. A second option would be to provide the definition for each scrambled word. This classification will help your child establish a relationship between the vocabulary word and its meaning, while also providing spelling practice.

Matching Games

Games that involve matching words, images and definitions help to reinforce your child's understanding of those terms. When possible, include a picture clue that represents the words' meanings.


Many kids have played a version of a memory game, which typically involves flipping cards and remembering their location in order to match identical images. You can create your own version of this game using pictures, vocabulary words and definitions. Write one vocabulary word on each index card in a stack. Then, on a new set of index cards, illustrate the words with drawings or paste magazine images on the cards. If your child would better understand the word with a definition rather than an image, write the meanings on this deck.

Mix the decks together and lay all cards face down. Let your child flip two cards at a time to try and match the vocabulary words with their images or definitions. This game provides entertainment for your child while also helping them to connect meanings to each word.

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