Activities for Teaching Vocabulary: Posters

Brighten up you room and increase vocabulary with this creative vocabulary activity. Bonus, free wall decorations!

This is the space where you’d usually find a handout or rubric to download, but this activity requires only what’s listed here. It’s good for works or subjects with lengthy vocabulary lists. There’s kind of a rubric at the bottom.

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Updated: This was originally published in 2014, long before all my students had laptop access. I would recommend making this a Google Slides Presentation instead of old school, pencil and paper.

Supplies and Preparation

This creative vocabulary activity calls for a few supplies.

  • 2 slices of plain white paper for each student
  • colored pencils or markers
  • dictionary or text book with glossary or laptop or digital device for each student

The activity will go much better with a bit of preparation.

  1. Write vocabulary words on the board, if possible, two words for each student. Or you can have multiple students teach the same word.
  2. Give each student 2 slices of plain white paper.
  3. Space colored pencils throughout the room, accessible to each student.
  4. As students copy all words from the board, assign two words to each student.

Vocabulary Activity Procedures and Evaluation

Students will make a small poster for each of their two assigned words. The poster must include

  • the word (preferably in the center)
  • the definition
  • a picture or symbol clearly showing what the word means
  • a sentence clearly showing an understanding of the word’s meaning. I recommend having students clear their sentence with you before putting it on the poster.

An ‘A’ poster possesses the following characteristics:

  • It’s colorful, neat, attractive, and uses space wisely.
  • The word is used correctly in a sentence.
  • The picture shows meaning clearly.
  • The definition is correct.
  • All words are spelled correctly and punctuation is correct.

Additional Activity

If you choose this activity, go with the paper and pencil version and the pass along vocabulary.

You’re probably wondering how in the world you’re going to grade all this work. Here are some suggestions for grading the work without having to cancel your weekend plans for the next several months.

  1. Give each student one finished poster (not their own).
  2. Instruct students to study each word for 45 seconds, writing down the definition if they choose. Students may also choose to write a positive comment on the back, or they can correct spelling and grammatical errors, if necessary.
  3. Every 45 seconds, yell, “pass” and students will pass their word to the next student. WARNING: be sure to provide a detailed explanation of how the passing process works; otherwise, you’ll have chaos. In addition, no matter how clear your explanation, at least one person will screw it up the first time. Be patient.
  4. When all words have been passed or a predetermined number of words have been passed, collect the posters and hang them on the wall.
  5. Give a multiple choice quiz. Hang the posters up and let them scan the room. That way you trick them into reviewing vocabulary.
  6. Hang up words with correct grammar and spelling only. If someone’s feelings are hurt, let them redo it.
  7. Show off how great you are when parents and administrators come to your room.

ELA Common Core Standards Covered

Here are some common core standards that apply.

  • L.9-10.3 Apply knowledge of language to understand how language functions in different contexts, to make effective choices for meaning or style, and to comprehend more fully when reading or listening.
  • L.9-10.2c  Spell correctly. Knowledge of Language.
  • L.9-10.4b Identify and correctly use patterns of word changes that indicate different meanings or parts of speech (e.g., analyze, analysis, analytical; advocate, advocacy).
  • L.9-10.4c Consult general and specialized reference materials (e.g., dictionaries, glossaries, thesauruses), both print and digital, to find the pronunciation of a word or determine or clarify its precise meaning, its part of speech, or its etymology.

Teaching Vocabulary

There are many ways of teaching vocabulary that don’t involve a dictionary.

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