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Speech and Language in the Classroom

The Blog

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Words, words, words

As this is our first blog post it seems appropriate to start with something about words! We use words to describe, think about and even change the world around us so if we can help children improve their vocabulary…

"We think with words, therefore to improve thinking, teach vocabulary". Draper & Moeller (1971)

Vocabulary is the foundation for developing oral and written language skills. Children who enter school with poor vocabularies, also have poor word learning skills.  Block and Mangieri, (2006) consider this lack of vocabulary to underlie academic failure for many pupils.

Here’s some tips on teaching vocabulary skills in your classroom, which we shared in Issue 1 of The Link. Read the full article here.

Fill the gap

Cover up a few ‘information’ words in a reading book. Think of possible words and then choose the appropriate word, e.g. ‘Katie went shopping. She _______ down the road’. (ran, cycled, walked, hopped, jumped, etc.)

Feely bag

Put some everyday items in a bag. Each pupil takes a turn to take an item from the bag. The pupil must answer some questions about the item to describe it, e.g. What colour is it, What do we use it for... This game can be linked to the current class topic.


Write different categories on cards, for example ‘food’, ‘red things’, ‘metals’. Each child takes a turn to chose a card and roll a dice. The child has to give you the number of items from the chosen category, e.g. if they pick ‘red things’ and roll a 3, they have to give you 3 red things. If they can, they can keep the card.

Describing Cue Card

The Junior Language Link resource breaks down word description into core skills. Put a word/picture at the top and answer the questions.  Go here to get this resource for free.


Block, C & Mangieri, J (2006) ’Vocabulary in all classrooms’ (4th edition) Boston: Allyn and Bacon.

Draper, A & Moeller, G (1971) We think with words (therefore, to improve thinking, teach vocabulary) Phi Delta Kappan, 52, 482-484.

A good read

Word Aware: Teaching Vocabulary across the day, across the curriculum (Branigan & Parsons 2014) Available from Speechmark