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!

 

September is for Spelling

The school year’s begun and there’s a lot of “new” going around – new teachers, new classrooms, maybe even a new school. That’s a lot of adjustments to make, especially when you’re used to the much more relaxed pace of summer vacation.

One way to get the school year off to a great start is to get involved in good study habits right away. Spelling games help you practice and find success right away at the beginning of the year. They’re also a great way to practice important skills while having fun!

 

 

At vocabulary.co.il there’s a whole section of spelling games grouped by grade. There’s nothing easier than clicking to play. Players can alphabetize the months of the year, practice words from classic literature, or even learn words for the SAT, simply by playing games.

Looking for a way to learn your weekly spelling words? Head over to our sister site, VocabularySpellingCity.com. There, you can enter your weekly word list and choose games to learn, play, and practice. Get your school year off to a great spelling start with vocabulary.co.il and VocabularySpellingCity!

 

Got a Plan?

It’s a new school year. Are you ready?

Successful teachers and learners make a plan to help them navigate a new school year. Here are three websites with great resources to help students and parents set and keep study and practice goals for the new year.

  • Vocabulary.co.il Okay, you’ve discovered on your own that this is a fun, free site. It’s packed with interactive games to help learners of all ages with vocabulary, spelling, and even typing games. There’s practice for SATs or foreign language study and funny brain games like HigPig, too.
  • VocabularySpellingCity is an award-winning learning website with both free and premium versions. Classroom teachers and homeschool parents love being able to use their own lists with fun, interactive games. And premium membership gives teachers and parents grading and recordkeeping features that save you time.
  • LearningGamesforKids.com has loads of  interactive games and also songs and videos. It’s great interactive content for preschool on up! Games are sorted by subject so it’s easy to choose games to review needed skills or follow interests.

Set those new-school-year goals and use interactive websites to help you and your students meet them.

 

Organized Learning with Symbaloo

There are a lot of social media sites out there. Some sites are primarily for connecting with friends while others help you share ideas and interests with strangers. Symbaloo is a site we’ve recently discovered that’s a great organizer for students, educators, parents, and homeschoolers.

Symbaloo users create webmixes like the one above. Each button on the webmix links to a favorite or commonly used link. When you need to go to that site, just click the button and Symbaloo will take you there. You can make your own. You can also use premade webmixes. Here are some of our favorites:

Save your favorite webmix to your home page so that all of your favorite websites are available every time you log on. Share them with your students, or let your students create their own. It’s a great way to organize learning resources. Want to get started? Register for a free Symbaloo account here.

It’s Summer- Let Your Hair Down!

Do you remember when idioms like “Let your hair down” were mysterious grown-up speak? Once you began to learn them it was like being invited into the club and knowing a special secret code. Guessing and learning idioms is great summer fun that keeps students’ brains active. And it’s not all fun and games, idioms turn up in newspaper articles, literature, and even standardized tests, so understanding them can only be to your advantage.

Slang Game


Idiom games are great for English Language Learners, too. They’ll help take the mystery out of these non-literal slang phrases. Start with The Slang Game and then move on to more games that feature Animal Idioms, Food Idioms, and even Money Idioms.

Your kids or students will have loads of fun playing, and when they get back to school they can tell their teacher that in a nutshell, on their summer vacation they had a ball, lived the life of Riley, and had a whale of a time, that is, except for the day when it rained cats and dogs and the one when they opened a can of worms they didn’t see coming. Happy word play!