Sometime during the summer of 2021, I saw a tweet from Mike Ochs, a staff developer for the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project, about a new vocabulary curriculum he was developing. I was intrigued and signed up to receive updates when the curriculum was ready to go.
A few weeks later, I received an email with a link to the first installment of the Word Love curriculum. I clicked and was immediately impressed by the level of detail each vocabulary unit had. Everything — from charts to vocabulary games to assessments — was provided so that Word Love could be integrated seamlessly into one’s literacy block. Plus, each Word Love lesson is aligned with TCRWP’s Units of Study in Reading so if one is using the Units of Study, then the book you’re reading aloud in service of your minilessons is the same book the vocabulary words are drawn from.
As some readers already know, this school year looks different for me. In addition to working as a literacy consultant, I’m homeschooling my daughter, who is in the fifth grade. (I never imagined homeschooling my children, but this was the right choice for our family for the 2021-22 school year.) Since our school year began with the Up the Ladder Fiction Reading Unit, I decided to try out the Word Love vocabulary curriculum during the first month of school rather than digging up my vocabulary resources from my classroom teacher days.
Within a week of starting Word Love, vocabulary became one of Isabelle’s favorite times of our school day. She enjoyed the games and began to use some of the words in conversation. I enjoyed the simplicity of having a ready-to-go resource that was created with best practices for teaching vocabulary instruction and was aligned to the reading units.
Once Isabelle successfully completed the first Word Love unit, I reached out to Mike to schedule a time to talk about vocabulary instruction so that you could get a better sense of what the curriculum offers.
Children need to develop deep understandings when they learn new word meanings so they will comprehend texts and become competent oral and written communicators. Word Love is an engaging way to engage kids with vocabulary development. Because each lesson can be taught in less than 10 minutes, it can seamlessly integrate into an already packed school day! Click here to sign up so you can get access to the free Word Love curriculum.
When You’re Ready
You can create your own vocabulary lessons for any interactive read aloud book. Here are some resources you’ll want to check out as you prepare to engage in this work on your own or with your grade level team:
- Read Bringing Words to Life, 2nd Edition by Isabel L. Beck, Margaret G. McKeown, and Linda Kucan.
- Check out Mike’s podcasts on Anchor or Spotify to learn more about topics such as introducing a word bank, creating vocabulary games, and assessment.
- Create kid-friendly definitions of the words you plan to teach. Collins and Kids Wordsmyth are online dictionaries that can help you create definitions and related synonyms.
- Check out a 21-day plan I wrote for my daughter, based off of Word Love, for The Year of the Rat, which she wanted to read after we finished The Year of the Dog by Grace Lin, which is the novel that’s used in the Up the Ladder Fiction unit. I don’t have Kimberly Fox’s art skills, but I did create charts for each of the vocabulary words, drawing on images from Pixabay.
- Peruse TWT’s previous posts on vocabulary and word study for more ideas to infuse robust vocabulary instruction into your classroom.
I am a literacy consultant who has spent over a decade working with teachers to improve the teaching of writing in their classrooms. While I work with teachers and students in grade K-6, I'm a former fourth and fifth-grade teacher so I have a passion for working with upper elementary students.
I'm the author of Craft Moves (Stenhouse Publishers, 2016) and the co-author of Jump Into Writing (Zaner-Bloser, 2021), Welcome to Writing Workshop (Stenhouse Publishers, 2019), and Day By Day (Stenhouse, 2010).