Reading Response: A Focus on Vocabulary

Want to help your children or students build their vocabulary? Try this exercise.

Prepare to Read

First, either instruct your children or students to read for a set amount of time. When I was a classroom teacher my standard “student choice” reading homework assignment was to read for 10 minutes, 3-5 nights a week.

You might do the same with your children or students, or you might read aloud for a set time period or length of pages. Be sure, if you are a parent, your child is sitting beside you so he or she can see the text as your read. If you are a teacher, be sure you are reading from a text that all the students can have a copy of, so they can follow along.

Print the following statements onto a note card, project them on your Smartboard, or write them on your whiteboard:

  • A word I did not know or was not certain of the meaning of was…
  • I found it in this sentence…
  • I think it means…
  • I looked it up in the dictionary and it means…

As you or they read, tell your students to be on the lookout for a word for the exercise.


Instruct your child or student to begin reading, or you begin reading. It is best if you do this in a quiet room without a lot of distractions. Tell him or her to write down the word and page number when they spot it and then continue reading for the allotted time.


When done, instruct your students or child go back to the page they noted and copy down the sentence in which he or she found the word. Instruct them to fill in the remaining statements or, if your group is small enough, discuss the remaining statements together.


Challenge your students or child to look for ways to use their new word for the next few days.

Your Turn

How do you like to help your children or students to expand their vocabulary?


Summer Evening Read-Aloud

You don’t have to go camping to enjoy a good book with your family in the great outdoors. Take advantage of the beautiful summer evenings and begin a peaceful ritual that builds togetherness, provides pleasurable entertainment, and invests in both a love of reading and an increase in reading skills for your child.

In short, take a blanket and a book out to your lawn (or with you to a local park), kick off your shoes, and you and the kids get comfortable for a great read-aloud. You don’t even have to do all the reading. Pass the book around and let everyone have a chance at both the reading, and relaxing and enjoying.

Although it may not seem so, listening to literature read aloud is a great means for building kids’ literacy skills and is something teachers often don’t have the time for in test-driven schools. It gives children the opportunity to practice visualizing what is read. It allows them to enjoy the story without what for some might be a good deal of labor. It provides practice at following a plot line, connecting cause and effect. And it helps build your child’s vocabulary.

Furthermore, if you vary your fare, it can introduce kids to a variety of genres. It has been my experience that sometimes reluctant readers are not truly reluctant at all, but merely haven’t found their genre yet, and when they do, just watch them soar!

So grab that book and that blanket, and enjoy some family time outdoors.