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English Language Arts Blog

The home of Vocab Gal and other educational experts K–12 resources

December 8, 2011 VG Vocabulary Games 6-12, VG Vocabulary Games K-5, Vocab Gal, ELA K-5, ELA 6-8, ELA Resources - Activities, ELA 9-12, ELA Focus - Writing with Vocabulary, ELA Focus - Vocabulary

Name a Car! Vocabulary Activity, Grades 4–12

What is a sure fire way to get students excited about vocabulary? Ask them to come up with a fun name for a brand new car.

Car names can be vocabulary words!  I will never forget the student who had a Mitzubishi Mirage –and every time the vocabulary word mirage would come up, she would get so excited that we were talking about her car (that wasn’t even real, I would tease her). 

More recently, my husband and I rented an SUV to transport additional family members, and it turned out to be a Buick Enclave.  Enclave is one of my favorite vocabulary words (yes, I have many favorites), and I thought that Buick’s use of the word as a car model was perfect-an SUV really is a secure, enclosed space where one can escape from everyone else!

This led me to start googling for other car model names, but I couldn’t find any other good vocabulary words as car names (feel free to list your favorites under comments, because I kept finding “Gremlins” and “Jettas” –not very scholarly)!


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After a while, I thought that instead of bringing the car names to the students, they should create their own to bring to me.  Students can create a car model name (and perhaps even a car brand, if they get ambitious). Then they create the car visually and write a paragraph detailing the features of the car that highlight the vocabulary word’s meaning. You can give the students my example for more clarification, if you want. 

In terms of the visual aspect, I created a template of cars that you can download and print off, or you can have the students draw their own (perhaps even coordinate with the art teacher). 

As a variation, if you don’t have much time, you could simply ask for a car name and a slogan that explains the relationship between the car name and it’s attributes.  In my example, my title is, “Toyota Indomitable: Making YOU Master of the Road” –which explains that my SUV is large and undefeatable!


The Toyota Indomitable: Making YOU Master of the Road!

The road has many hazards these days. Chaotic roadwork, careless drivers, and hazardous weather conditions all make for a war zone kind of commute.  What better way to assert yourself as undefeatable on the battleground of the highway than in a Toyota Indomitable. In an Indomitable, you can feel superior with 8 airbags, 2 extra-large metal bumpers, bulletproof tinted windows, a stainless steel “Caterwaul” airhorn mounted on the roof and colossal rotating tire rims. 

People will know that you are number one as you ride in style with leather interior, 10 extra-large cup holders, a Bose surround sound speaker system, two mounted TV/DVD players in the rear, and a mini fridge in the driver’s side compartment-all standard features in your Indomitable.

Additionally, thieves will know that your family’s fortress on wheels is impregnable as your Indomitable comes with a patented Brinks anti-theft security system installed with its logo emblazoned across both sides of your enormous SUV.

To let your fellow travelers know that you are indefatigable, your family’s crest can detailed across your Indomitable’s back windshield in neon-making all those more stick figure families and monogram decals look callow in comparison.

Ultimately, everyone will know that you are the king of the road as you maneuver your Indomitable throughout life’s journeys.


  • Underlined words are other vocabulary words used in your ad

  • Italicized words are synonyms for your vocabulary word, letting other readers truly understand how your car amenities match the definition of your car’s name.

  • Bold your car name/vocabulary word each time you use it



Common Core State Standards:

Language Standard 4: Determine or clarify the meaning of unknown and multiple-meaning words or phrases
Language Standard 5: Demonstrate understanding of figurative language, word relationships, and nuances in word meanings & distinguish among the connotations of words.
Reading Text Standard 4: Craft and Structure: Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative and connotative meanings; analyze the impact of specific word choices on meaning and tone, including analogies or allusions to other texts.