How to Teach Vocabulary - Word Wheels

› Word Wheels

Word wheels are so much fun.  You can do them whole class, in small groups, or assign them individually.  

What I like about this activity (beyond how much it improves the kids vocabulary!) is that it's quick and easy.  They also make great reference tools all year long - just hang them from the ceiling for instant coolness.

This is also really great for ESL vocabulary learners as it helps them learn parts of words in a more concrete way.

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How To Make A Word Wheel

  1. Cut out some large circles. Draw a smaller circle in the middle, then draw spokes out to the edge from it to make 6-8 sections. 
  2. Inside the circle put a Greek or Latin root word or affix, along with the meaning of it. The students then brainstorm words with the same root or affix, write them in the sections and illustrate them. 
  3. These word wheels should be hung in the classroom as anchor charts for reference the rest of the year. It becomes a word wall that is highly focused on academic vocabulary.

I like to coordinate these with special holidays because those hold great importance in a primary classroom.

My Valentine's Word Wheel uses the base word gram which means "write or draw", and the sections have words like: candygram, telegram, cryptogram, gramophone, monogram, and tangram.

Each word is illustrated for Valentine's Day, with the cryptogram being a secret "I Love You" message, and the tangram being the shape of a heart.

The younger the students the more direct instruction and guidance is needed, but this is a really neat way to address improving vocabulary in a powerful and robust manner. Plus, it's a lot of fun!


Ready for more ideas?  Click on Zeus' lightening bolt to get more vocabulary ideas and free reading comprehension activities.

(or go back to the previous lessons)




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