In working with my elementary school students in regular education and Learning Support, I noticed that the adjectives they always used first in any describing activity were big, little, pretty, ugly, happy, and sad. BOR-RING! One day, we posted a list of commonly used adjectives and verbs (eat, run, walk, laugh, for example), and declared these words BORING and BANNED! No longer could they be used in the therapy room. From now on, we’d have to come up with some synonyms to add sparkle to our verbal and written communication.
While I am checking speech folders for homework and marking attendance, I often give the students a “word challenge.” I will give them one of the banned adjectives or nouns, and they will see how many synonyms they can come up with in 2-3 minutes. While I am using Artic-U-Checks for quarterly progress monitoring with one student in a group, the others will work on grade-appropriate Daily Word Ladders to build vocabulary.
We also started using the Adjective Remix app from Smarty Ears. By going into the settings, I can turn off the words the students don’t need (colors, for instance), then we use the app to learn new adjectives. Taking it one more step, we brainstorm additional descriptors before moving on to the next stimulus item. For instance, when the app asks, “which one looks comfortable?” and the students correctly pick the recliner, we brainstorm additional words that can be used to describe the chair. Combining the brainstorming task with 400 clear photos and appeal of using the iPad really keeps the students engaged. Adjective Remix is just $9.99 from the App Store. It makes for an exciting, invigorating, and lively lesson — definitely not boring!
Update 11/18/12: Good grief! How could I have forgotten one of my most favorite ways to spice up vocabulary??? The “Fancy Nancy” books are fabulous for learning “fancy” new words! Read my blog post from Feb. 13, 2012 under “Therapy Ideas” for info about this wonderful series of books. The lessons that I developed for some of the books can be downloaded – free – from http://www.speakingofspeech.com; go to the Materials Exchange, select Language, then Vocabulary Semantics.