Thursday, May 3, 2012

Review: A Word A Day

Our homeschool year is coming to a close.  After this week, we only have 3 more weeks to go.  I think we are all ready for a break.  So, I just can't seem to bring myself to look at anything new right now.  Therefore, I thought I'd take the next few weeks and review what has worked for us this year.

As every homeschool is unique, I hardly expect that what works for me would work for all 3 of my readers (hi, mom :)  But, perhaps it will help someone, for better or for worse.

Vocabulary is one of those subjects that I feel like we need to work into our schedule but have had trouble in how exactly to do that.  At one point I used a dedicated vocabulary curriculum.  One day after my son had written for something like 2 hours straight between his vocabulary, handwriting, grammar, and literature study, I saw that I needed to tweak what we used.  No wonder he hated writing!  I liked the vocabulary curriculum, but for the sanity of our homeschool and my son, it had to go.

 I next tried to incorporate vocabulary into our literature studies.  I dropped that, also.  As my kids have gotten older they have increased their reading speed.  They get frustrated when slowed down in chapter 2 with vocabulary exercises when they'd rather be reading chapter 5 (more on that another time).  I also tried to incorporate vocabulary into other subjects with varying levels of success.  Pretty much, though, it was just getting left behind.

Then I found Evan Moor's A Word A Day workbook.  This works great for us.  The kids are introduced to a new word each day for 4 days.  On day 5 they take a simple quiz.  That's it.  Simple, yet effective.  I purchase the reproducible teacher's edition in e-book format.  Then, I print off the pages with the words for the day, the review sheet and the quizzes and organize them for my students (making sure to black out the answers to the quiz located on the review sheet). This method takes very little time yet they learn their words.  Nowadays vocabulary for both my kids is done independently with a little review from me to make sure they did their work.

Using this resource, of course, doesn't leave us without looking up words we don't understand in our other studies.  We still take advantage of those on-the-spot learning opportunities.  But, as sometimes those opportunities come and go in spurts, this is a more consistent practice of vocabulary for us.

Pros:  The Evan Moor A Word A Day workbooks works for us - simple as that.  My kids are learning their vocabulary without being bogged down with writing sentences and definitions - things they practice with other subjects.  Its a quick and effective way for my kids to learn new vocabulary.  And, the e-book version sees that when my other students move up, I have their pages to print off for them also without having to shell out more $ for another workbook.  The e-book version is pretty simple to download and I don't have to pay or wait for shipping - a plus.

Cons:  Sometimes the words presented have more than one meaning, but only one meaning is presented.  That's not a huge concern of mine, but it can occasionally be a little confusing.  I can also see the potential of this type of work to become rote and thus my kids eventually will do it without really even paying attention.  I haven't really heard any complaints, though, as they are aware of the other methods of learning vocabulary that they aren't that fond of.

There are many different ways of teaching vocabulary.  Even just opening the dictionary and learning a new word per day would work, and be free!  But, with 2 going on 3 students, all at different levels of learning, a house to take care of, and various other commitments, I'm finding that I really appreciate having something already made up for me to use.  We really like A Word A Day and plan to stick with it for next year.


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