Ideas for expanding writing vocabulary

This morning I presented a jam-packed workshop at the Schoolhouse Expo, a virtual homeschool conference sponsored by The Old Schoolhouse Magazine. The hour whizzed by as I shared tons of ideas for ways to creatively introduce and expand your children’s writing vocabulary. Here are just a handful of suggestions from today’s session.

Be a Writing Role Model 

You’ve heard that if you want your children to become readers, they need to see you reading. Likewise, to raise writers, you must make sure they see you writing. When your child writes, think about stopping to write as well.

  • Draw attention to your writing. Point out times that you use writing to communicate with others.
  • Talk about writing opportunities. Explain the purpose for each kind of writing and the target audience, handwriting vs. computer, etc.
  • Let your child see you prepare for a Bible study, keep a prayer journal, or take notes during church.
  • Have your child help you write letters, even such routine ones as ordering items from an advertisement or writing a letter of praise or complaint to a company. This helps the child to see firsthand that writing is important to adults and truly useful.
  • Take time to write in your journals together.

Assign Copywork

Copywork has so many benefits, including providing students with excellent writing models. You can use various copywork passages as opportunities to look up unfamiliar words, which is a great way to naturally expand your children’s vocabulary.

You can purchase resources specifically intended for the purpose of copying. Or simply encourage copying Bible verses, hymns, favorite poems, passages of literature, or famous quotations.

Suggest Making Lists

Making lists is an effective writing tool for all ages. Most children like to create lists anyway, but writing out lists—from the mundane to the meaningful—also helps them become more organized. Taken a step further, when list-making is used as a brainstorming tool, it can even help students plan the elements of an essay or story. And it also helps build context-specific vocabulary.

Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Show them how you keep a calendar, make grocery lists, write daily to-do lists, add to an ongoing list of projects, etc. Then your kids can make their own lists of schoolwork, dates for soccer practice and games, family birthdays, etc.
  • They can inventory furniture in a room or items in a junk drawer, jewelry box, or medicine cabinet. Talk about different ways to name common objects.
  • Likewise, they might make lists of their various personal possessions such as baseball cards, stuffed animals, shoes, or CDs. Collections, such as seashells or Matchbox cars, often have specific or specialized names. Learning these helps contribute to vocabulary growth.
  • Another suggestion is to create word lists: Your child can begin a list with a word that describes a texture such as rough or slippery, or a character quality such as gentle, brave, or faithful. Then have him use a thesaurus to look up synonyms for that word to expand the list.

. . . . .

If you missed it, you can still get an Expo to Go ticket that will give you access to all the MP3 audios beginning May 31, 2010. It’s been a wonderful event, and I highly encourage you to grab a ticket so that you can take advantage of the encouragement and ideas that each outstanding speaker has offered. At $19.95, it’s an outstanding deal! Just click the Expo to Go image to the right. >>>

My homeschooling days are well behind me, but I still gleaned so much from the excellent sessions. Hope you take advantage of “Expo to Go”!

Photo courtesy of StockXchg.
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#1 Penny on 05.14.10 at 6:46 pm

I really enjoyed the presentation today, Kim! You gave me so many wonderful ideas for working w/ my child who has special learning challenges. I appreciate you!


#2 Kim on 05.14.10 at 9:16 pm

Thank you, Penny. That means a lot to me.

#3 amy in peru on 05.15.10 at 11:27 pm

I wanted to attend just to hear your workshops… but I figure over time, I’m gleaning all the helpful information I’ll need as I go along from your blog! Thank you for this AMAZING resource!!

LOVE it.

amy in peru

#4 Kim on 05.16.10 at 9:24 am

Aw, Amy, that’s the kindest thing you could say. I love knowing that the blog is helping people with encouragement and ideas for teaching writing. Thanks for your sunny comments. They always brighten my day!

#5 Penny on 05.30.10 at 10:45 am

What was the name of the thesaurus-like resource you use? I can’t find where I wrote the name of that book! Ack!



#6 Penny on 05.30.10 at 10:48 am

I FOUND IT IN ANOTHER POST – “The Synonym Finder”!!! Woo hoo!

#7 Penny on 05.30.10 at 5:27 pm

Kim, I used a 40% off coupon at the big bookstore today to get “The Synonym Finder” and began using it with my daughter this evening. Your Expo session gave me the idea of a “definitions journal” since my daughter is asking so many questions about what words mean. (She is on the autism spectrum and she’s catching up in some areas.)

#8 Kim on 05.31.10 at 2:50 pm

Excellent, Penny! I know you’ll have fun with your “definitions journal.” Great way to expand the homemade dictionary idea. :o

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