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Vocabulary is one of the biggest areas SLPs target when working on language. Having a solid vocabulary means students will be able to understand more of what they hear, have more word choices available when they are expressing themselves, etc.  I know I work on synonyms, antonyms, multiple meaning words, etc on a daily basis. The difficult part for me was know what words to work on. What words do they need to know?! This was, quite frankly, driving me nuts!


Most people would suggest just going off of your district’s vocabulary list, however, my district doesn’t have one. I also didn’t want to work on words that students needed to know for just one chapter in science or social studies, I wanted ones that would stick, that they would actually come across and use in real life. I’m not saying you shouldn’t use classroom and lesson specific vocabulary, I do.  I am just saying I like to focus more on real life, applicable words. I mean, when was the last time you used the word ‘tariff’ while talking to your friends. So I took matters into my own hands and after months ( yes, months ) of reading, researching, and sorting, I was able create my new Vocabulary Survival Kits!

The words for these kits were chosen using Common Core standards, research from Robert Marzano, and other vocabulary resources. Each kit has 4 lists of 10 words. Each word has a kid-friendly meaning. I wanted the definitions to be as close to how we actually speak as possible rather than sounding like it is straight from Websters. Most of the definitions are how my kids explained the words to me. The lists also have the part of speech and a synonym and antonym. Just in case your wondering these are mostly Tier 2 words.


Each list has vocab word, synonym, and antonym. That means each list has 30 words and with 4 lists that 120 words! There are also pre-tests and post-tests for each list.  After compiling the lists ( which you can use to keep data on, just print one for each student ) I needed a way for students to learn them, understand them, and make them stick.  Enter, Word Maps. These are basically like graphic organizers for words. Students write the word, meaning, highlight the part of speech, write a synonym and antonym. Then, they have to use the word in a sentence and illustrate it. This was great for a lot of my kids.  Even if they couldn’t tell me the word meaning right away, they could tell me the picture they drew, or I could tell them the sentence they made and then they could then tell me what the word meant.


Each list comes with two, fill-in-the-blank stories. You can use the stories after you have completed a list. In my mind, the focus would be on one list per quarter, to give students plenty of time to learn and understand the words.  I also recommend other activities like charades for students to play after they have gone through all the words on a list. This can get pretty interesting! We had lots of laughs acting the words out.


Students kept all of their materials ( pre-test, post-test, stories, and Word Maps ) in their folder so we could pull them out for reference. I hope I explained everything well enough.  If not, I made a YouTube video to show you a little more 🙂 You can watch it HERE.

I am working on a kit for 2nd grade but have kits for grades 3, 4, and 5 ready for you in my TpT store.  I have also bundled all the kits! You can check them out HERE sig1_bird (2)


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Meet Maureen

Hey there! I’m Maureen Wilson, a school-base SLP who is data driven and caffeine powered. My passion is supporting other pediatric SLPs by teaching them how to harness the power of literacy and data to help their students achieve their goals…without sacrificing time they don’t have.

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7 Responses

    1. Thank you Mary that is very kind of you to say. I started researching and compiling lists at the end of the year last year. Ha, it has been a processes.

  1. I love this! It is so well thought out. How we introduce and teach vocabulary is important! It CAN be current and fun, not dry and test-like.

    1. Keeping vocabulary learning engaging is so important Susan, you’re right. My kids liked being able to draw and by silly with their sentences, adding their own flair. I think that it more practical too than simply matching definitions and words on a page.

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