While we can learn new vocabulary by reading, and M is a voracious reader, I still feel that we need to work on it diligently, year after year. But an aspect that I feel isn’t covered enough by just reading literary works is academic vocabulary.
If you’re like me, you’re avoiding vocabulary curricula that have too much busywork and aren’t straight to the point.
Unfortunately, we are not big fans of the acclaimed ones and couldn’t make them work for us. There are just too many word lists at once, or M already knows most of the words. The work seems too tedious, and he resents the writing aspect. That’s how I end up on the lookout for new and better-suited vocabulary programs every year.
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This is a post in the series The Dailies from Evan Moor. To read more reviews from this series:
Evan Moor Publishers
We love ❤️ Evan Moor because their materials are so easy to use and implement and we’ve been using them successfully for the past 6 years in our homeschool.
Evan Moor is an international publisher of supplemental materials that has been creating quality books and workbooks for over 40 years!
Their offer includes all subjects for grades pre-k to 6th, and all their materials are created to fit the highest quality standards and to ensure ease of use.
I love that we can choose the book formats from either printed or PDF books, which makes them accessible worldwide.
Evan Moor generally creates supplemental materials, but if you pair them up (like they’ve done with their homeschool bundles), you can create full curricula for multiple grades.
What is Academic Vocabulary?
Many people think of academic vocabulary as specialized terms used in academic settings, but it’s more than that.
“Academic vocabulary is that critical vocabulary that students meet again and again in their reading and classroom work across all content areas. […]”Daily Academic Vocabulary 6+, Evan Moor
As you can see, academic vocabulary here refers to terms used in various areas that aren’t usually learned from regular sources (by speaking or even reading).
In my opinion, academic vocabulary is the capacity to express thoughts in an elegant manner, by using precise terms. It takes the speaker (or writer) one step up, every time they use a word like subsequently or conceptual for example, in a correct phrase. It gives your ideas elevation and importance, making them stand out.
It’s hard to define exactly what academic vocabulary is, but you can read more about it here. And there is a notable difference between academic words and technical vocabulary because academic vocabulary is more subtle and used widely across all subjects. So academic vocabulary is more than specialized terms.
Many words in academic vocabulary come from Greek, Latin, French and have broad uses. For example, words like: impose, emerge, sequence, emphasis, etc. We all know what a huge difference in expression (be it written or spoken) such terms can bring.
Daily Academic Vocabulary Structure
The Dailies are a great, flexible series from Evan Moor that is easy to implement for daily exercise and review purposes.
We are using all of them in different ways from the main curriculum (for geography) to supplementary materials (for science). I love their flexibility and you can easily adapt them to any homeschooling need.
Daily Academic Vocabulary 6 is set up as a series of 36 weeks, meant to cover one year of school. It covers 129 academic words which you can easily consult in the contents section.
There are 4 spiral unit reviews for the full year, making it 2 review tests per semester.
The book begins with a teacher’s instruction on how you should implement the vocabulary to maximize learning. It also contains a special section for ELLs (English language Learners) that can come in handy.
There’s an answer key at the end of the book followed by a set of “transparencies”. Keep reading to see how we adapted these for home use.
Every week follows the same structure, making it easy to fall into a routine with this book. Children learn 4 or 5 words per week and they focus on one or two per day. At the end of the week, they have the option of reviewing them all.
Teacher page– with daily instruction for teachers and suggestions on presenting each word.
Days 1-4 – half a page of word-focused activities like fill in the blanks, choose the correct answer, and short answers.
Day 5- review of the week’s words through fill the bubble answers and a short answer section.
There are 4 cumulative reviews in the book and these reviews are different because they are split up into 5 days- continuing the lesson model. The reviews will happen in weeks 9, 18, 27, and 36.
On the first page, the instructor gets ideas on how to conduct and enrich the testing period.
After that, there are 4 days of testing where kids demonstrate their knowledge of vocabulary by completing short paragraphs.
On the 5th day, there’s a challenging activity like a crossword puzzle or cracking the code.
How We Use Daily Academic Vocabulary 6+
There are plenty of ideas at the beginning of Daily Academic Vocabulary on how to use it effectively, but I found that most of them cater to a school setting, or at least a larger family. Since I homeschool an only child, I had to make some adjustments.
We do one week’s worth of lessons in a single sitting and I use some simple games to make sure he grasped the meaning of each vocabulary word.
I took the transparencies and printed them on colored cardstock, then I cut them into strips which we use like playing cards.
Here’s our process:
- I read the word aloud and ask him what it means. Sometimes he already knows the meaning, so we just read the definition and examples to him. If he doesn’t know the meaning, I will use Evan Moor‘s suggested way of introducing the word.
- We continue doing this for all words for the week, taking out our word cards for this. Then M fills in the activities for the 5 days.
- The second day we play a game to review the words.
- When we get to a Cumulative Review, we play another game that reviews all words before the test.
I used materials we have around to put together these simple games. I noticed that M does well with these sorts of games, so I try to incorporate them into our school whenever I can, especially for review purposes.
There’s simply something about M and sticky stuff or stickers.
- square sticky notes
- strips of sticky notes (like page markers made of paper)
- washi tape sticky dots
- an envelope
- set of word cards printed on colored cardstock
Sticky Note Match:
- on square sticky notes, I write the definition of the words
- each word goes on thin strips of sticky notes
- I stick these, mixing them up, on his desk
- he needs to pair them up
- for every matched pair, M will say a sentence using the vocabulary word
- he will get a sticky dot for every correct sentence.
Win a Word Card:
- I am using the transparencies as cards, as I mentioned.
- I will either give him the word and he needs to explain it to me, or give him the definition and he needs to tell me the word.
- Every correct answer will win him the respective card which he can keep in his trunk (an envelope).
- to review multiple past words, we use the sticky notes as a game.
- I stick the notes on the floor, in a circle (with enough room to jump on them) while the M stands in the middle
- I read a definition and have him jump on the word that matches it.
Why We Love It
We have a history of not liking most vocabulary programs out there, so it was a surprise to see how well Daily Academic Vocabulary 6+ fitted into our schedule.
What I appreciate the most about it (like every other Evan Moor book from the Dailies series) is that it’s short and to the point. But there are other points that pushed this book into our curriculum for next year:
💚 It’s flexible – I can easily adapt this to finish a week’s worth of dailies into one sitting. Or you could just follow along for 36 weeks of vocabulary. It’s easy to condense and change to suit your needs.
💚 It makes it easier to use the new words in context, daily. Unlike the books that put too much accent on text reading, Daily Academic Vocabulary moves that focus on understanding how to use the words in daily contexts.
💚 I love that it offers my son opportunities to practice writing without overwhelming him. M is not doing great with writing, but I found the writing required in Daily Academic Vocabulary to be just right for him. It helps him with sentence structure and expression without making him dread the assignment because it’s short. We really like the questions as well.
💚 Related words– I love that most of the weeks have words from the same family, making it easier to compare and sort out the subtle differences in meaning. For example propose, proposal, proposition are all presented in week 2, making it easy to differentiate between them regarding their parts of speech. I love this approach to introducing vocabulary!
💔While I love this book, I don’t like the fact that it’s focused on classroom use and this thing reflects both in the instruction and in the tasks that kids need to do. But we can adapt most of them to home use and for the rest, we just pretended to be in school.
Our rating is 5 out of 5 stars because this book has become an invaluable asset to our homeschool vocabulary approach.
See my YouTube video below for a complete leaf-through and for a glimpse into how we use this book and the games to reinforce academic vocabulary:
Over to You
What do you use for vocabulary in your homeschool? Let me know in the comments, I would love to chat.
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