Vocabulary Games for Elementary Students

In elementary school, your child will learn vocabulary skills that set the foundation for a lifetime of reading and writing. You can foster these skills by playing vocabulary games that combine family time with learning. Read on for some suggestions.

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What Vocabulary Skills Are Elementary Students Learning?

Elementary school students learn how to determine the meaning of unfamiliar words by using context. They also learn common prefixes and suffixes, antonyms and synonyms, literal and figurative language, root words, homophones and compound words. In the lower grades, students also study sight words that are critical for literacy. The following games let you interact with your child while strengthening his or her vocabulary skills.

What Games Can We Play to Practice Vocabulary?

Knowing the Right Homophone

For this game, you'll need a dry erase board or a chalkboard, index cards and tape. Write homophones - words that sound alike but have different meanings - individually on index cards. On the board, write a sentence that uses at least one homophone, leaving a blank where the homophone(s) should be. Challenge your child to look through the index cards and find the correct homophone(s) to tape in the blank space on the board. Keep writing sentences until you've gone through all the index cards.

Describing Objects

Discuss descriptive words with your child, and then ask her to choose an object somewhere in the house. Instead of showing you the object, she will write five descriptive clues about it. After you guess what the object is, brainstorm additional ways to describe it. Then switch roles, and challenge her to guess what object you're describing.

Unscrambling Dolch Word Sentences

This game for grades 1-3 encourages the practice of Dolch words, also known as sight words, which can't always be sounded out. Search online for a grade-appropriate Dolch word list and review it with your child. Write five basic sentences that use at least two Dolch words per sentence.

Rewrite the sentences, mixing up the words and omitting the Dolch words. List the omitted words, in non-sequential order, next to each sentence. Ask your child to unscramble each sentence and add in the Dolch words where they make sense.

Listing Words with Prefixes and Suffixes

Search online for a list of common prefixes and suffixes, and ask your child to write them individually on index cards. Give him some paper and a pencil. Shuffle the cards and put them face down on the table with the top card face up. Set a timer for one minute and ask your son to list as many words as he can think of with this prefix or suffix. After one minute is up, help him add to the list before moving on to the next index card.

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