Expanding Vocabulary

When students use the same tired words over and over, their writing becomes dull. The Internet is full of lists you can provide students; however, students learn by creating their own “Wow Word” lists. 

First, decide what you wish to call overused words:

  • Dead Words
  • Other Ways to Say …
  • Worn Out Words
  • Use Wow Words
  • Use Muscle Words
  • Tired Words

Once you decide, stick to it, so students won’t be confused. Here are three activities that will help students expand vocabulary. 

Activity #1 – Word Wheels

Word Wheel

Have students create word wheels. Write an overused word in the center of the wheel. Have students think of words that can be substituted for the overused word and write them in the outer spaces. In this free printable, you will find a full page and half page size sized word wheel.

The half page size makes great books. Print multiple copies of the page. Cut them in half using a paper cutter. Stack the pages together and staple them across the top or side (your preference). You may wish to add construction paper front and back covers to the books to make them more durable.

Throughout the school year, when you come across a word students overuse, have students complete the next page in their books. The books can be used as a reference any time students are writing.

Activity #2

Wow Word ActivitiesThis free printable, published by Educational Insights, has a cute tombstone printable for teachers who like to use the idea of “Dead Words.” This printable also includes some teaching ideas and a word list.

Activity #3

Ideas to Present Students from Using Overused Words

Wow Word Thesaurus is a mini book listing nine commonly used words:

  • very
  • nice
  • good
  • bad
  • mean
  • scared
  • happy
  • funny
  • cool

The printable book contains a partial list of synonyms for each word plus blanks for students to write additional synonyms. This booklet can easily be glued into an interactive notebook for students to use as a reference.

Download Wow Word Thesaurus
at Teachers Pay Teachers.

Gay Miller


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