Piquant ways to learn new vocabulary words

Looking up words in a dictionary is one way to learn new vocabulary words, but children, parents and teachers have so many other options.

girl with ipad in bed

  • Do a google image search. Type in Google.com/search and when the website comes up, click on Google images.  Then type in the word you want to see illustrated.
  • Create visual flashcards. Copy and paste the image from your google search, print it, and tape it to one side of an index card.  Or draw an image yourself.  Write the word on that side and on the reverse.  Study the image side; test yourself using the side with just the word.
  • Use those flashcards while walking or exercising. While fresh oxygen is pumping into your brains, you are better able to learn.
  • Replace words in a song with words you want to learn. “Oh, say, can you discern, by the dawn’s early glimmer. . .”
  • Replace words in a famous quote with words you want to learn. “Clamor not for what your country can attain for you. . .”
  • Create word graphics such as mind webs. Children could start with a word they know and find synonyms, shades of meaning or antonyms.  Or they could start with the word they are trying to learn.
  • Still using mind webs, write a root word in the center, and then develop family lines using that root.
  • Use color-coded flashcards from your paint store. Find several shades of blue, for example, each one more intense than the previous one.  Write on each card a word which becomes more intense in meaning compared to the previous one.  For example, you could learn “disdainful,” “contemptuous,” and “insolent” this way.
  • Create BINGO cards with words you want to know. They could be three-by-three or five-by-five cards.  Write one word in each box.  Then draw an emoji next to each word to help remember it.  Write a list of definitions for the words words on the card (minus the word), read the definitions, and find the word.
  • Read the front page of The New York Times, Washington Post or Wall Street Journal every day. Or read an article from the National Geographic or Sports Illustrated daily.  Those newspapers and magazines use a wide variety of vocabulary words.  Reading is one of the best ways to acquire vocabulary.
  • Sign up for a vocabulary learning blog, such as vocabulary.com to learn a word a day. “Search vocabulary learning blogs” to find several such blogs.
  • Sign up for a dictionary’s website. For example, Merriam Webster (merriamwebster.com) has a word of the day and a list of words which are timely based on the news of the day.

By the way, “piquant” means charming, interesting or attractive.

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