Using effective word choice when writing and speaking is the ultimate goal of vocabulary instruction. I often use the term "sparkle words" when teaching students about word choice. Good writers use descriptive, precise, and creative word choices to make their writing "shine". One such method that I have used with students is to record these "sparkle" words when I hear them using interesting words in conversation or when I spot them in their writing. I would record them on chart paper and after the kids caught on, they would then add the words to the chart paper as well. I kept the chart paper on my focus wall as a reference for students as they were writing or speaking.
There are many ways that you could adapt this idea such as writing the words on word cards to place on a bulletin board or word wall, or having students record the words on a portable word wall that is kept in their writer's notebook. Once students understand, they enjoy "catching" each other using sparkle words and they can take over recording the words.
This summer, I am using this same idea with my six and seven year old sons. The older child has an amazing vocabulary and soaks up new words like a sponge. He is blessed to be like an elephant because once he hears a word, he rarely forgets! Just last week, he used the word liberty correctly in a sentence. I asked him what it meant and he told me "freedom". I asked him where he learned that word and he said from his reading teacher this past school year. YAY for his teacher!!
So, I decided to capitalize on his strengths, praise him for taking a risk using sparkle words (sometimes he uses them correctly, other times he doesn't, but it is his attempt that counts!), and to use a recording sheet so he and his younger brother can see just how many "big kid" words they are using.
I made recording sheets like this one and placed it on the fridge:
Every time I hear one of my boys using a sparkly word, I record it on the sheet. The examples above are actual words that I have "caught" my seven year old using this week.
The next step will be to use this list as a resource for when he is writing. We'll keep the words on the fridge for now and then when school starts, I will have him keep this in his writer's notebook.
You can grab the above recording sheet and a few others for FREE that I made by clicking on the picture below (packet is on Google Drive).
Let me know how you encourage kids to use wonderful words in their speech and writing!