language arts,  seasonal activities,  vocabulary,  writing

Using Vocabulary Cards in the Preschool Classroom

I love vocabulary cards. I love them so much that I’ve designed my own and there are always some available in my classroom, but before I get ahead of myself, let me tell you why I love them. I started using vocabulary cards when my students showed an interest in working on their writing skills.  They kept asking me how to spell certain words, and how to write specific letters.  I eventually got tired of writing certain words over and over on scrap paper so that kiddos could see what the words looked like, so I wrote some on sentence strips.  This was a start, but then they couldn’t find the word they wanted independently, so I sat down at the computer and typed up the words and added pictures so the children could find the words that they were looking for.

Now my students know what the cards look like, and that they can go find the cards, look for the word that they want to write, and write it on their own paper.  Sometimes I have the cards in my writing center, and sometimes they are with the dramatic play materials, I’ve even put them in the science center, when the science materials are seasonal (fall leaves, spring flowers, etc.) Occasionally we will put them in a pocket chart and explore the words as a large group, naming the letters and sounding out the words, clapping the syllables, and coming up with rhyming words.

My intention is not that the children will be able to read these words, or even that they will learn to spell them. I just want to give them the opportunity to see what words look like.  If they want to attempt to write the words, that’s just icing on the cake! Many of the words that I include on my vocabulary cards are long, and would never be included on spelling lists.  They aren’t grouped by phonetic rules or vowel sounds, they are simply the words that my students use, and words that I would like them to be able to use, the focus is more on increasing their verbal vocabulary than teaching reading or spelling.

Some of my students love that they can write these words all by themselves, by looking at the cards and copying down the letters. I love that they are working on letter formation, and that they are connecting the sequence of letters with the picture on the card.  I also offer blank vocabulary cards – with only the pictures printed on them, and encourage my students to write the words themselves. If they do each card, then they get to have their very own set of vocabulary cards to keep.  They love this, and are so proud when they finish!

I am slowly accumulating vocabulary card sets for nearly every subject and theme, and they are all available in my Teachers Pay Teachers store for you to use too! They can be purchased in individual sets, or I have them available as seasonal vocabulary bundles.  I’m hoping to finish my winter bundle this week! If you plan on having any kind of writing center in your preschool classroom, these are an amazing (and low-prep) addition!

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