Teaching Vocabulary Without a Curriculum
There are a lot of Vocabulary curriculums available to homeschoolers. Some are stand-alone courses and some are intertwined within a Language Arts curriculum. But, do we really need a formal curriculum to teach our children Vocabulary? No. A lot of homeschooling parents are teaching Vocabulary already without even realizing it.
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Vocabulary and Literature
Vocabulary can be taught through the literature that we read to our children. The key is choosing good quality literature to read aloud. My kids love being read to. I think that is why Charlotte Mason’s methods work so well for us!
(You can read more about choosing “twaddle-free” quality literature here.)
If you are unfamiliar with the term “twaddle”, Charlotte Mason often used it in a way of saying something was nonsense or full of fluff. Non-twaddle books will have a lot of rich vocabulary words for your child. When I read aloud to my kids, and we come across an unfamiliar word, my kids will always ask what that word means. Then I will stop and explain. Those words end up in their own vocabulary, and they will often surprise me by using them in everyday conversation. They also figure out new words through context clues. Children are naturally curious, so if they don’t know what a word means, chances are they will ask.
Keeping a vocabulary journal is a great way to learn vocabulary. All you need is a notebook and pencil or a binder, paper, and pencil. (See the supply list below for a free binder cover!) You can choose words for them to enter into the journal, or let them choose a few words they are unfamiliar with each week.
Where to find the words??
Look inside read-alouds, independent books, and etc. My children are pulling words from History, Science, Read-Alouds, and Independent reads. We usually have about 3-4 words per week that we write down, but we discuss unfamiliar words almost daily with our read-alouds. Letting your child choose a few new and interesting words from these areas will help them get excited about learning what the new words mean. Another good place to find some vocabulary words is in the Bible. During your Bible time, you are likely to find a few words that your child may not understand. That is a really good opportunity to jot them down in the vocabulary journals.
Setting up your Vocabulary Journal
You can opt to just let your child write their words in order as they find them, or you can put them in alphabetical order. If you choose to arrange the words alphabetically, write the letter at the top of each page. Make sure you have several pages for each letter. (You may want to use tabs like these to divide the sections.) Label the tabs and stick them on the first page of each new letter for easy navigating. I opted for just a mini composition notebook for each of my children.
We didn’t use the sticky tabs, but I really wish we would have. It would have made things a whole lot easier to find! I also will be buying a bigger notebook for next year because the mini-notebook did not work well. Because of the size, not as many definitions could be written on one page. So, our notebooks filled up pretty quickly.
Vocabulary Journal Supplies:
(**For notebook or binder) Removable binder tabs:
1/2 in. binder (If you prefer using a 3-ring binder and loose-leaf paper)