Why is it so important to directly teach vocabulary to children? Children have an amazing ability to soak up new words every day from their environment without being explicitly taught. Many words in our English vocabulary, however, are relative and abstract in their meaning. With informational texts, you can teach your students about the meaning of relative words!
Directional words, such as “up” and “down,” are dependent upon the position of the speaker and the listener. The meanings of directional words are difficult to grasp without concrete visual aids. Going Up and Down, a new level B reader from the Kaleidoscope Collection, offers images of common activities such as sliding down a playground slide and climbing up a rock-climbing wall. The familiar images help the reader become situated and understand the spatial meanings of “up” and “down.”
If you want to add a science twist to teaching the vocabulary, read Up and Down from the My World Series. Leveled at Guided Reading level E, the book features plants that grow up from the ground (like a sunflower) and plants that grow down underground (like a carrot).
Big and Little (Level D) from the Kaleidoscope Collection also uses adjectives with relative meanings. The meaning of the words “big” and “little” only make sense if the reader knows what the object is being compared to. The boy’s shirt is big compared to Baby’s shirt. Baby’s pants are little compared to her brother’s pants. Ask your students: Would the boy’s shirt be big compared to his dad’s? Would Baby’s pants be little compared to a doll’s pants?
Using photographs for reference will help your students distinguish between these relative words that are understood through context. Their vocabulary skills will go up, up, and up!