Love Those Long Words!

I once picked Gone With the Wind as my summer reading book because it had a lot of pages. I loved to read, sure, but I also looked very grown up hauling around the one-thousand-plus page hardcover from the city library.

It’s not uncommon for kids to pick books that are too hard for them because they look impressive. Interestingly, researchers have found that many students will read and understand books that test results say should be way too hard for them. For these kids motivation trumps suggested reading levels.

I’ve seen the same phenomena in schools in which the students are allowed to choose their own vocabulary or spelling words. There are always a few who choose the longest words because they look impressive.

At vocabulary.co.il we’ve got a few games that are exactly right for the kids who want to impress, and they’ll help any kid build his or her vocabulary. Compound words are lovely and long. They look impressive. They’re also made up of two words that students are likely to know already, so they’re challenging but not too challenging for younger kids.

In Line Match players match two words to make a new, longer word.

 

In Which One? players find the word that completes a compound word.

 

In Break It Up players read a compound word and divide it into its two components.

 

So get your elementary school kids playing compound word games today. These long words are a great start to building an impressive vocabulary!

Meaningful Science Fun!

Are you wild about science? Do you love finding and trying out new concepts?

Science4Us is an online science curriculum for kids in K-2. It helps students build science skills through interactive online lessons, games, and offline hands-on activities. Assessments are built in and online assessments automatically add the students’ score to their file, making things easy for the teacher or parent.

Introductory and open-ended activities, both on and offline, help students access their knowledge and develop questions about the topic. In Exploring the Universe, students get to “fly” through our solar system.

Four to six minute lessons in each module teach the main concepts, checking viewers’ comprehension along the way. Here’s a lesson all about motion.

Kids learn from online games like Camouflage which challenges kids to find the camouflaged animal in each picture.

Parents and teachers of students in grades 3-5 are finding that Science4Us makes a great science review and sometimes teaches skills students don’t yet have. For example, this Take a Note activity helps students learn what controls and variables are.

Ready to have some science fun? Click through to Science4Us and see what you can learn!

Oxymorons

A fine mess, a bird dog, a quiet revolution, oxymorons are phrases in which the words are opposites but even so make sense in context.

Test your skill with popular oxymorons with Match and Make: Oxymorons. Match the two words that make the best oxymorons.

 

Mastered oxymorons and looking for more word fun? Our Idioms Games page has lots of great games. Play them to match popular sayings with their literal meanings.

Got Context?

What in the world does that mean? Context is one of the many skills readers use to figure out the meaning of unknown words. The words and sentences that surround an unknown word, its context, can help us understand a word’s meaning. Context can also help readers build a more complex understanding of a word’s meaning and nuances.

When readers add using context clues to their reading strategies they begin to build vocabulary and comprehension skills. Though more experienced readers tend to encounter fewer unknown words, readers at every skill level will benefit from learning to use context clues when they read.

Vocabulary.co.il has games to help readers at every level practice discern meaning through context while having fun.

Line Match games challenge players to match words with contextually rich sentences. Choose words from Ramona Forever, Call of the Wild, Romeo and Juliet and other famous works of literature.

In Which Word, players choose the best word for the sentence, allowing them to practice using context clues with each question. Instant feedback allows players to learn as they go.

Need an even greater challenge? 100 High School Word Search is a very challenging word search puzzle in which players are given the definition of a word and challenged to find the word in the grid. This is a great activity to bone up for the SATs or simply to exercise the little gray cells.

So if you need a little context in your day, build your vocabulary skills with fun word games on vocabulary.co.il.

Apostrophe or No Apostrophe? That is the Question.

Contractions, those bits of smashed together words, are tricky. Most contractions require an apostrophe to stand for the missing letters: don’t (do not), it’s (it is), or haven’t (have not). Some contractions don’t have an apostrophe: none (not one), shoulda (should have), wanna (want to), or outta (out of).

Writing contractions can be difficult for elementary school students and English Language Learners to master. Is there an apostrophe? Where do you put it? What words does the contraction stand for, anyway? It’s enough to stress dutiful students out!

Don’t worry, though. Vocabulary.co.il has a stress-free solution to contraction woes. Five online contractions games help students of all ages understand the meaning and spelling of common contractions. Here’s what you’ll find.

Fill It In Contractions Game challenges players to type contractions from the words they’re made of.

Fill It In: Un-contraction Game challenges players to unpack the contractions into their original words.

Memory Match is a flip the cards game where players match the contraction with its parts.

 

Break It Up challenges players to place the apostrophe in the contraction.

 

Which One? challenges players to choose the correctly spelled contraction.

 

Don’t stress out about contractions! Pick a game and have fun with contractions today!

Crosswords or Scrabble?

Do you love word games? I do! Among word nerds there’s often an argument about whether crossword puzzles or Scrabble are a better mental exercise.

Not long ago, a team of researchers set out to test the brains of champion Scrabble players and crossword masters to see who was smarter. The results were just about even – except that the crossword puzzlers came out on top when it came to verbal analogies. Surprisingly though, both the players and the puzzlers came out well ahead of the control group, and all three groups had comparable verbal SAT scores.

Curious? You can read more about the study here.

If you’d like to ready yourself to mix it up with champions at Scrabble or the daily crossword puzzle, or if you’d simply like to have fun playing with words, we’ve got some links to great online practice games.

CrosswordOur sister site, VocabularySpellingCity.com has crossword puzzles to play online. They’ll give you practice finding words to match the definition or context of the clue. Choose a list by grade level!

 

We can help budding word nerds at vocabulary.co.il, too! Unscramble Games help you practice making words out of scrambled letters, just like in Scrabble.

 

Our Which One? Analogy Game is accompanied by two analogy lessons, just to ensure that you come out top dog! So get playing and build your brain!

 

 

Reading Strategies – Root Words

When students are learning to read, they encounter books filled with simple words, perfect for encouraging new readers with early success. Many of these consonant-vowel-consonant combinations simply need sounding out. Most kids will recognize these simple words when they hear them. Past this basic level of reading, however, readers begin to encounter words they don’t already know.

Readers facing unfamiliar words can profit from breaking them down into parts they do know. The root word holds the main meaning of a longer word. Understanding the root will help readers get the gist of the meaning. Prefixes and suffixes modify the meaning or tense of the word or make it plural.

Understanding many different root words can help students with reading comprehension. It can also help with standardized test success. Vocabulary.co.il has games to give you practice identifying root words while having fun. The games are leveled for elementary, middle school, and high school learners.

Play Root Word Meaning Match to test your knowledge of root word meanings. Play Dividing Root Words to separate the root from the prefixes and suffixes in the word.

Looking for more? Our sister site, VocabularySpellingCity.com, has premade lists  that feature common Latin and Greek word roots. Simply choose a root like “man” or “graph”, click to get the list, and then choose a learning activity or game to practice. It’s fun, free, and a great introduction to the site!

Learn New Words

Do you remember when you were learning to read and you struggled to match familiar words and sounds with groups of letters on the page? How about when you visited a country where you didn’t speak the primary language? Suddenly, the words you knew were no help in communicating with others.

Match Game

Vocabulary.co.il has a great activity to help students who are learning to read or learning English. It’s called English Word Recognition Game and it will help new readers and English Language Learners learn new words quickly while having fun.

Two modes allow for students to learn and to play. Learning mode shows students cards with pictures and written words. Players mouse over a card to hear the word spoken. Fifteen different sets of cards introduce players to animals, household goods, and more.

Play mode allows students to play a matching game. Players overturn cards to match them. The game tests memory and also reinforces learning by showing pictures and words while adding audio to help learners learn to say and interpret common nouns. It’s a great, fun way to reinforce English and reading skills.

Looking for more ESL practice? Find other games that help you learn English here.

Unwind with Word Games

Word games are a great way to exercise your brain while having fun. They don’t have to be centered on a particular set of words, like your spelling list or vocabulary words, or a particular skill, like typing, to help you learn. When you play with words you strengthen the parts of your brain that help you with everyday tasks like spelling, reading, letter and word recognition, and vocabulary. Interactive word games help you strengthen other, non-verbal skills, too. Eye-hand coordination, working memory, and scanning skills all get a boost from word game play. Here are some of our favorites.

In Letter Blocks, players click on letters that are adjacent to one another to form words of three or more letters. Each formed word appears at the top of the screen and then the word and letter block disappear, letting the blocks above shift down. New tiles are constantly falling, so players must stay on their toes to find words. Otherwise, the screen fills and the game ends. Boggle lovers will have fun playing Letter Blocks.

Eight Letters in Search of a Word is a classic scrambled letter game. Players are presented with eight scrambled letters that form a word. Players make as many words as possible with the letters they’ve got. Win a big bonus for using all the letters on the screen! If you like Scrabble, you’ll love Eight Letters in Search of a Word.

Find these and other word play games at vocabulary.co.il. They’ll keep your intellect happy and your mind sharp!

Dreaded Analogies

Perhaps because of their association with standardized tests, analogies are not at the top of most students’ lists of favorite English language arts activities. They begin innocently enough: blue jay is to bird as shark is to fish. However, they soon progress to far more complex ideas: monologue : actor : : speech : politician. Now, students are presented with both complex ideas and unusual forms. What are all those colons about, anyway?

Why would we torture students so? Students use their own analogies every day; they just don’t realize it. If students stop thinking about analogies by their school and test name, they might become a little less daunting. An analogy is simply a detailed comparison. For example, you’re hoarding your candies like a squirrel with acorns. You’re running faster than the wind blows. This makes the analogy you : run : : wind : blows, but it looks much less scary.

Analogies are a fact of life in standardized tests, but there are lots of great reasons beyond tests to work with analogies. Understanding analogies requires thinking hard about many aspects of the words within them. Deciding which comparisons match in order to answer a multiple choice question requires an understanding of the words’ meanings, their parts of speech, and the relationships between the word pairs. Working with analogies, like working with synonyms and antonyms, can help students become more aware of subtle differences in meanings between similar words.

Vocabulary.co.il has supports to help you learn analogies in a fun way. Analogy video lessons help you understand just what an analogy is and what types of analogies there are. Games at every level help you identify different types of analogies and help you match the parts of analogies. So don’t fear analogies, have fun with them instead!

For even more analogy resources, check out the resources on our sister site, VocabularySpellingCity!