/Tag: reading
28 05, 2019

Deepening Reading Comprehension with Vocabulary Strategies

By |2019-06-28T11:04:34-04:00May 28th, 2019|Reading Strategies, Strategy Share, Vocabulary|0 Comments

Understanding the meaning behind words is an important part of reading comprehension. Vocabulary strategies are the tools to help students crack open unknown words. When teaching vocabulary strategies, it is important to break things down into simple steps that students can apply. While it is important to also teach vocabulary words, vocabulary strategies are more like a decoding skill that help students open up new words in the text as they read. These vocabulary skills that are developed through strategies will help students deepen their understanding of various texts, improve their writing skills, and hopefully encourage them to be lifelong learners. Today, I want to go over five different vocabulary strategies that will help deepen reading comprehension. I will go over some tips to get students applying these strategies. I will also be sharing a free vocabulary strategy resource too!

These reading strategies can be taught in a mini-lesson or during guided reading. Then students can apply them as they read, just like they would use a decoding strategy.

Vocabulary Strategy #1: The Case of the U.W.T. (Unknown Word in the Text)

First, it is important to teach students not to ignore unknown words. Some students may have already formed a habit of jumping over words, so it’s important to train them to stop and pay attention to those words. This strategy is simple. It’s about getting them to look closer at that unknown word. The other strategies will help them crack open the meaning more easily.

Steps for Students to Apply the Strategy:
1. Stop when you see an unknown word.
2. Take a closer look at the word and sentence to see if you see any clues.


Vocabulary Strategy #2: The Case of the Told-You-So Owl

Sometimes the meaning is hooted out in the same sentence. Students can look to see if the sentence explains the word. Linking verbs are the clues to solving these types of vocabulary mysteries.

Steps for Students to Apply the Strategy:
1. Look at the words closely for clues. Do you see the words is, are, or means?
2. If you see a linking verb, the meaning is being hooted out for you right there in the sentence.


Vocabulary Strategy #3: The Case of the Flipped Pancake

Sometimes, students stumble on a new word that relates to other words they know, and the supporting text helps them to understand that word. With this strategy, you can teach students to flip the word to a synonym that would make sense with the rest of the text.

Steps for Students to Apply the Strategy:
1. Think of a word that would make sense there.
2. Change the word to the synonym. Keep reading to see if it still makes sense.


Vocabulary Strategy #4: The Case of the Repeating Parrot

Sometimes, the meaning of words is repeated in another way in the very next sentence that is more understandable. Sometimes, students need to read the next sentence to gain comprehension of the unknown word.

Steps for Students to Apply the Strategy:
1. Read on to see if it is repeated in another way.
2. If it is repeated in another way, think about the meaning of the new vocabulary word. Then keep reading. If it is not repeated in another way, try another strategy.

Vocabulary Strategy #5: The Case of the Runaways

Don’t let any newly learned vocabulary words runaway. Teach students to be on the lookout for words they cracked open with vocabulary strategies and encourage them to point them out when they find the words in other texts. A vocabulary journal comes in handy for this purpose too.

Steps for Students to Apply the Strategy:
1. See if you can spot the new vocabulary words in other books you read.

These are just five of twenty-four vocabulary strategies. In addition to these five strategies, the others also teach students to use picture clues when applicable, ask questions about the unknown words, use various types of context clues, utilize visualization and inferences, pay attention to the text features, and use resources like a dictionary, glossary, and online resources. It includes a strategy for when to ask for help when all else fails and a strategy to recycle the use of the word too.


Tips for Getting Students to Apply the Strategies and Retain Vocabulary Words:

  1. Model and practice the strategy with a mini-lesson. Seeing the strategies in action with a sentence or short paragraph will help students grasp how to use the strategy so they can apply it to unknown words as they read.
  2. Give them a visual reference. Miniature strategy posters help students see the strategy. That way, they can apply it as they read. These also can be used as a bookmark if your students are reading chapter books.

3. Use a graphic organizer. Graphic organizers help students make their thinking more concrete. They will retain more. This gives some accountability to where they have to show they actually applied the strategy. Also, this extends more critical thinking. You can incorporate a graphic organizer by having students record at least one unknown word after they are finished reading. To make this fun, have students store their graphic organizers in a case file.

4. Use a vocabulary journal. Another option is to use a vocabulary journal. Graphic organizers can also be added to the vocabulary journals

5. Extend the vocabulary work. Newly discovered words should not be forgotten. By having students revisit their vocabulary journals or graphic organizers to use with a new activity, students will build their vocabulary and ultimately, their reading and writing skills.

Click on image or here to link to the Vocabulary Strategies Detective Academy Resource

If you are interested in having a resource with all these vocabulary strategies and resources, you can find it here. This resource includes an engaging introduction where they are on a mission to become vocabulary detectives. It includes mini-lessons with sentences that connect to the fun theme of each strategy, strategy posters, student size strategy cards, no prep graphic organizers and journal size ones, vocabulary extensions, rubrics, and rewards for becoming a vocabulary detective. It is easy to differentiate instruction with this resource. You can pair it with any book you like. Also, you can set the strategy goals to whatever fits your class best. That way, all students are encouraged to be vocabulary detectives! Find the resource here.

Would you like to test out a vocabulary strategy? Here is a free vocabulary strategy resource to test out with your classroom. It is for the Case of the Repeating Parrot.

Also, make sure to check out some of my other vocabulary posts here and here.

Now before I close out, I want to let you know about my free tech course. This free course shows you a simple three-step system for setting up the use of technology in your classroom. With the abundance of tech options out there, it can get overwhelming in the primary grades. The key is to wisely pick just a small amount of tools and add on from there. This course will help you get a system in place, includes some free tech resources to utilize with the system, and even includes short student tutorials to get your class on board. Find more information about it here  or click the image below.

Use Tech to Reach More Students in K-2

I hope you find these strategies and tips useful. What ways do you teach vocabulary strategies in your classroom? Feel free to continue the discussion in the comments.

Thanks for stopping by the Candy Class!

Jolene Mathew 🙂

9 08, 2018

Activities for Teaching Long Vowel Teams in the Primary Classroom

By |2019-03-12T21:05:58-04:00August 9th, 2018|phonics, Vowel Teams|0 Comments

When it comes to teaching long vowel teams in the primary classroom, incorporating many different engaging activities is a must! If you are looking for some ideas and teaching strategies for teaching long vowel pairs, you have come to the right place!

Ideas for teaching vowel teams in the K-2 classroom


First, let’s talk about introducing the vowel teams to students. First, it is important to put the main focus on the five long vowel sounds. This will lead them to tap into prior knowledge, so that they can grasp the concept that ai and ay make a long A sound.  Besides introducing the graphemes to students that make each long vowel sound, it is also important to introduce new vocabulary too. There probably will be many familiar words when it comes to working with vowel teams, but there will probably be some new words too. Using pictures help a bunch with that!

long vowel team vocabulary cards

Modeling is an effective way to introduce these long vowel teams. Interactive anchor charts are a good tool for the job.  Incorporating sorting can make this interactive and will be more engaging for students than just telling them. That way, you can involve students by having them come up and put a word on the chart.

long vowel team anchor chart

Once students are familiar with many words containing vowel teams, one activity idea is to have them sort with some vocabulary cards. It is important to have visual representation at this point when working with young readers who are just learning their vowel teams. The focus at this time is really getting them to discern between the long vowel sounds and to become familiar with the different graphemes. Later as students master this aspect, they can go on to sort between ai and ay words to challenge them more and build up their spelling skills too.

Sorting long vowel teams

Another activity involves students identifying where the long vowel sound is in the word. Is it in the beginning, middle, or end? Students can use those vocabulary cards again, a fun party food tray, and some erasers to show the location of the sound. Students can use this activity in a center with a partner or on their own, or you can also have them work with you or an assistant in a small group with this also.

long vowel teams phonemic awareness activity

For whole instruction, you can also do an activity where students identify where the long vowel sound are located in the word. Simply say a word. Then ask if it is in the beginning. Students stay quiet if the answer is no or clap if the answer is yes. You repeat the question for both middle and end too. If you want to add an element of fun, you can let students use some clappers or even some cymbals instead.

clap for long vowel teams

Another activity is to use a phonics interactive notebook. This is a way for them to journal about the vowel teams, and it offers a way for them to revisit the concepts later. Students can sort between long o and not long o.

long o vowel team interactive notebook sorting activity

They can also avoid a shark “ai”tack by sorting long ai and not long ai.

long a vowel team activity with shark sorting

Students can also do some sorting on paper too.

sorting long u

Additionally, they can also play fun dice games to distinguish between long and short vowel sounds.

long vowel team games

Incorporating part or all of these activities should have students firmly familiar with the long vowel teams and the long vowel sound that each one makes.

Moving on to More Depth with Vowel Teams:

Once students show mastery of distinguishing between different long vowel sounds, they are ready to start word building. This is when you switch focus to the different vowel teams such as ai and ay. It is important that they know that ai makes a long a sound and ey makes a long e sound. That helps them with their decoding skills during reading tremendously! Also, at this point, they will also start to discern more between whether beach is spelled b-ea-ch or b-ee-ch.

There are many different activities they can do to help them learn the vowel teams. While no prep printables can be helpful, make sure to incorporate lots of fun games, hands-on activities, and even some technology.

Here are some ideas for hands-on activities for teaching vowel teams:

Students can do word building. It is a good idea when first getting started that they have some visual cues to help them out. Laminated word work cards are very helpful, and you can always mix them up. One day, they can use magnetic letters, another day they can use tiles, and another day they can use dry erase markers. They can also use the vocabulary cards to check their work with these.

ways to use vowel team word work cards

Puzzles are another activity they can do. Not only does that offer a way to have a visual cue, but it is also self-correcting.

long vowel team puzzles

Students can also use that interactive anchor chart as a center activity.

long vowel teams anchor chart

Games are another fun way for students to practice vowel teams.  They can spin and graph.

spin and graph vowel team activity

You can also involve some printables that include hands-on activities too. Worksheets do not have to be boring! Students can pull out some bingo daubers to select the vowel team.

long vowel teams bingo dauber activity

They can also practice reading words with spinning and sorting activities that have them pairing words next to pictures to show that they are reading those words!

long vowel teams spinning activity

matching words and pictures for vowel teams

Once they are showing some mastery, they can build full words. This involves a little bit more critical thinking, but it also involves some hands-on action!

building words with vowel teams

If you take some ice cream wooden sticks and index cards and write the vowel teams and alphabet letters on them, students can use these for building words and reading them.

vowel team ice cream stick activity

vowel pair matching game

For those with some computers, tablets, or iPads, you can also have them do some digital word building. If you want some accountability, simply use some recording sheets.

long vowel digital word work

Click here for the digital word building activity for vowel teams.


You can always create things with these ideas for your personal classroom use if you are into DIY. However, I do have many of these activities in a bundle and sold in individual sets in my store if you would like to save a huge amount of time.

long vowel team bundle

You can find the bundle by clicking here or on the picture. If you are interested in one of the individual sets, you can either click on one of the images above or link to it from the bundle. Please note that the vowel teams bundle does not include the digital word building resource. You can find that separately by clicking here.

I hope these teaching suggestions and activity ideas help you out in your classroom! If you would like more teaching ideas sent to your email, make sure to sign up. You will also receive a free set of long vowel and short vowel task cards for signing up! Click here to sign-up for those free task cards! 

activities for teaching long vowel teams


Thanks for stopping by the Candy Class!

Candy Class for Teaching Resources and Ideas

Jolene 🙂