Despite the challenges and changes that have come from distance learning, educators still need to work to help open students’ eyes to the plethora of words surrounding them. We need to get students recognizing how much of the vocabulary they study or see in curriculum appears in their everyday lives.
From the reporter on the nightly news to the math worksheet they are given, from the advertisement on the back of the cereal box to the avatar’s name on their video game, these words are EVERYWHERE!
Here are some examples of vocabulary words I discovered by simply looking and listening as I go about my everyday life...
I was re-watching the The Big Bang Theory season 4, episode 4, and the word “brobdingnagian” was used several times by Sheldon in a conversation about Raj’s oversized desk. Due to copyright issues, I can’t show you the clip, but you can easily find this clip on YouTube. Although "brobdingnangian" isn't part of my students vocabulary curriculum, it is one of my favorite words!
While reading a magazine in a waiting room I discovered the word "infallible" in a L'Oréal makeup advertisement. Online ads and print ads are one of the easiest ways to find vocabulary words in the world around you. Whether a company is naming a product, describing a product, or enticing people to buy a product, advertisements are riddled with vocabulary words!
Spotting vocabulary words in my everyday life is what inspired me to create the Vocabulary Scavenger Hunt Activity for my students. Creating vocabulary activities that will get students excited to participate and will also help them realize vocabulary words do exist outside the English Language Arts classroom is key.
Send your students off on a scavenger hunt to discover vocabulary words at home! Below educators will find everything they need to implement this fun activity in the classroom.
Students will go on a mission to collect a total of 15 vocabulary words in their everyday surroundings. As students discover words, they will record them on a Vocabulary Scavenger Hunt chart. When they spot a vocabulary word, students will either collect evidence or an adult's signature to verify they found the word.
How to Get Started
The first step is to download the Vocabulary Scavenger Hunt Activity worksheets. My free download includes an instruction sheet for students, examples, and a Vocabulary Scavenger Hunt chart.
Share the Vocabulary Scavenger Hunt instruction sheet and chart PDF files with students. The chart outlines what information needs to be recorded when a word is found. The instruction sheets are available in various grade ranges and include directions, suggested sources, examples, and a space for assigning due dates.
Once students have their worksheets, assign students a deadline to collect their 15 words. As indicated on the instruction sheet, students will collect their words in intervals. Teachers will assign students a date to collect the first 5 words, a due date for collecting the next 5 vocabulary words, and a date to collect the remaining 5 words. By having deadlines in 5 word increments, students are less likely to procrastinate and then not be able to find all the words they needed.
Remind students that searching words on the internet is acceptable for some harder to find vocabulary, but at least five of the words must be found organically in their lives.
Review what evidence should be collected when a vocabulary word is discovered. This will vary by grade level and can be as detailed as teachers want to make it. In addition to filling out the Vocabulary Scavenger Hunt chart, teachers can require students to take a picture, screenshot, get an adult signature, or share socially.
For example, I require my high school students to take a picture or screenshot of their findings and then either insert it into a PowerPoint (that they will submit at the very end) or share it on Twitter/Instagram with a classroom hashtag. If you don't have a class hashtag feel free to use mine, #VocabGalWordHunt.
Finally, make it clear that all evidence collected needs to be school appropriate!
Providing incentives including stickers, certificates and buttons gets students to pay attention and share their newfound recognition of words. This in turn allows your classroom to become a positive space for learning vocabulary.
Although a point system is not outlined in detail on my free worksheets, words found organically should be "awarded" more than those searched for on the internet. I suggest making words searched for on the internet worth 1 point and words found from everyday sources/connections worth 2 points.
Furthermore, give students added points for going to virtual museums and finding vocabulary on the descriptive placards-I always walk away with at least 2–3 examples every time I'm at a museum.
Encourage students to take the time during this time of distance learning to discover words by looking and listening for them at home! The Vocabulary Scavenger Hunt Activity will give students the opportunity to observe the world around them for interesting vocabulary words and reflect on why a robust vocabulary is an important.
Download the Vocabulary Scavenger Hunt Activity now!