Saturday, August 20, 2016

Vocabulary Activities for Little Learners ~ Big Brain Words

A few years ago, we sat in a Professional Development meeting faced with the challenge of bringing robust vocabulary to the forefront of our primary classroom. It seemed such a BIG task for such little brains, but one that we agreed was imperative to teaching today’s learners. We spent over a year planning, creating, testing, editing, and analyzing the implementation of our program, Big Brain Words, with our own students. What we discovered was, not only was implementing a purposeful, kid-friendly approach to vocabulary development imperative in our classroom, the kids were begging for Big Brain Words and consistently using the new vocabulary they were learning all the time! Big Brain Words has quickly become a favorite weekly activity in our classroom all year long. By the end, our students leave with BIG brains filled with robust vocabulary!
Each Monday, we introduce 5 Big Brain Words for the week. What's a Big Brain Word? Mostly, it's a catchphrase to set the stage for our kids to buy into our hair brain teaching strategies. ;) But to them, Big Brain Words are our weekly vocabulary words that take a really BIG BRAIN to learn and know. You think kids are up for showing off their BIG brains? You bet!
We have a bulletin board permanently set up in our classroom where we swap out our weekly vocabulary words and pictures. We use these all week! We read them, define them, cheer them, sentence them. Whatever it takes, we incorporate these words into our classroom all week long. But most of all...We simply use them! When we're talking and a Big Brain Word pops out of our mouths, the kids cheer, "That's a Big Brain Word!" When we're reading a story, we've taught our kids to tap their brains if they hear one of our Big Brain words...And they do! Who says primary kids can't learn big words?
In addition to our Big Brain bulletin board, we provide our students with multiple vocabulary activities during our week. We are firm believers that immersing young children in rich, robust vocabulary consistently allows them to retain and comprehend words and definitions with greater ease while expanding their vocabularies naturally. 

First, we introduce our weekly words by creating fridge kids. They take them home to stick up on their refrigerator for weekly reminders to their family to use our Big Brain words when talking at home! We also include a note in our weekly class newsletter to parents. 
Once we've introduced our weekly vocabulary words, we offer many activities for vocabulary acquisition and immersion during our literacy centers time. Our Big Brain Words activities are differentiated and offer opportunities for all learners to feel successful when learning such big vocabulary words. This is especially important for building confidence in our developing readers!
We also offer some higher level Big Brain words activities, called Brain Boosts for fast finishers which our kids seem to pick time and time again!
This little one came to us one day and asked us to make a Big Brain book so she could read and practice her words whenever she wants. She even created her own as a sample so we knew what to make. 
HA! We loved it and of course we created a Big Brain Booklet too.
Big Brain Words Set 1 Includes:

5 Weeks of Lessons & Resources
*Bulletin Board Elements and Ideas
*Vocabulary Posters with Definitions
*Mini Vocabulary Cards with Definitions
*Vocabulary Kids craft and Definition Flips
*Week at a Glance Planning Guide
*Weekly Assessments and Record Keeping Sheet
*5 Big Brain Hunt Pages (1 for each week)
*5 Big Brain Spin Pages
*5 Big Brain Game Pages
*5 Definition Dice Pages
*5 Big Brain Booklets
*5 Big Brain Fill-In Pages (Level 1)
*5 Big Brain Fill-In Pages (Level 2)
*5 Big Brain Fill-In Pages (Level 3)
*5 Rainbow Royalty Pages
*5 Big Brain Foldables
*5 Big Brain Shape Puzzle and Draw and Write Pages
*5 Big Brain Dice
*Answer Keys

We've also added a Growing Bundle which will include our entire Big Brain Words program by January 2017 ~ 6 Big Brain Words sets that will provide you with a comprehensive classroom vocabulary program for the whole year! Grab it on the ground floor for a huge discount now!
We begin Big Brain Words after our Beginning Sounds Boot Camp, about the third week of school. We continue our Big Brain Words program all school year long. It quickly becomes a favorite weekly activity for our class and their vocabulary flourishes all year and beyond! 
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