Word Choice Activities

Teaching word choice in writing can be tricky. It requires a student to already have a solid vocabulary he feels confident with and then asks the student to apply that vocabulary in an interesting, clever way.

So what do you do when you have a classroom of kiddos struggling to use anything other than good, bad, very, and a lot? Here is an activity I picked up at a 6 Trait of Writing workshop hosted by my district’s literary specialist.

Word Garden/ Graveyard

Post on a wall a decorated “graveyard” with tombstones. On these tombstones, write boring or worn out words you want your students to bury. Then require the students to create an “epitaph” of at least 3 suitable replacement words.

Another option is to create a garden of flowers with colorful word choices. A basic word can be in the middle with colorful synonyms on each petal, or one colorful word on each flower. These can be updated throughout the year.

7th Grade Word Graveyard

I did this activity around Halloween, so we used pumpkins and tombstones. I hung up a large sheet of butcher block paper on a wall and then the students were given blank sheets of colored paper to cut, write on, and paste on the butcher block paper. Depending on the level of your students you can judge how much control to have over what they do. For instance, I approved their work before they hung it on the wall. You also might what to select the boring words each student is to replace.

The beauty of this activity is that it is a knowledge gift that keeps on giving. Leave it up on your wall for your students to walk by daily and notice the better word options. Hang it in clear sight of desks for  students to glance up at as they write.


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