30 Days of Homeschool – Day 19: Vocabulary

(30 free posts about free resources for homeschooling)

“Who needs a large vocabulary when you can just make up any word at any time? It makes life a whole lot more emeaglibop.”
Jarod Kintz, How to construct a coffin with six karate chops

“Don’t use a five-dollar word when a fifty-cent word will do.”
Mark Twain

PREFACE/ENCOURAGEMENT/PONTIFICATION: One of our great joys as parents is hearing our children speak gooder and gooder (just kidding…) as they grow up. Part of this process is expanding their vocabulary. Just learning vocabulary can be downright unproductive, if not a cause of regression, because we can throw so many words at them without context that they don’t grasp the meaning or purpose. We can also allow our own inadequacies to stand in the way, acting as if an expanded vocabulary – including understanding lots of nuances, permutations, variations, situations, synonyms and antonyms – isn’t important. What you consider as an appropriate vocabulary range is certainly up to you, and how you teach it is up to you, too. But I suggest that it’s like starting a fire in the great outdoors – when you prep for a fire, you get twice as much wood ready as you think you’ll need.

Since vocabulary is just part of the whole of communication, we need to show them that there are differences between how we write emails and leave voicemails; between how we talk to our friends and to our parents; how we talk to our neighbors and new people; how we write a letter to our grandparents and to a senator. While we may want to impress an audience, we don’t need to impress our friends. And, kids, your parents WILL know if you’re talking like an improved and more intelligent you, or like someone else.

Merriam-Webster Dictionary (online): http://www.m-w.com
A great, straightforward place to look up words, especially together. It has a speaker icon by each word for you to hear the pronunciation. It also has a good thesaurus, AND Scrabble (how could you not like that!?).

Here’s an article on Project Eve Moms to 5 ways to build your child’s vocabulary: http://projectevemoms.com/five-ways-to-build-your-childs-vocabulary/
I would add, perhaps under the first point, to take extra time on grocery/shopping trips to tell them what the things are that they’re pointing at (e.g., green beans, potatoes).

Here’s an article on the Art of Manliness: http://www.artofmanliness.com/2012/10/03/the-importance-of-building-your-vocabulary-and-5-easy-steps-to-doing-it/
This might be geared more for the older student (or even the teachers!), but very good.

Google: http://www.google.com
Either in the browser search bar or the search on the Google page, just input “define <your word here>,” and it will define it. So to look up aerospace, enter define aerospace. Actually this will work for most, if not all, browsers. For other interesting things to do with Google, look up google hacks.

Vocabulary.com – http://www.vocabulary.com
I just recently came across this site, but haven’t tried it. It has several options for learning new words. You have to sign up, but it’s free. If you’re ever uncertain about whether a site is good, or suspicious, and you 1. want to check it out, but 2. you don’t want to give out any of your real email addresses, you can use a service like Mailinator (http://mailinator.com/) to create a one-time, disposable email address. After that, if you like what you see, you can go in and change that email to your real email.

Happy Homeschooling!

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